How to Fix Files or Folders that Cannot be Deleted

How to Fix Files or Folders that Cannot be Deleted

/ Shayne Sherman

(The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program)

In some cases, you might come across a file or folder that refuses to be deleted. This can be a problem especially if you want to clean up your computer from files that you don’t need anymore.

Well, you’re in luck today, this problem can be fixed by performing simple troubleshooting.

Method 1: Perform a Reboot

The main cause for files that are not deleting is that it is still being used by a specific program that is running in the background even if you close all your applications.

A simple restart of Windows can fix this issue.

  1. Shutdown your computer
  2. Unplug your computer
  3. Press on the power button for about 10 seconds while your computer is unplugged
  4. Plugin your computer and Start it normally

Go to the file or folder that you are trying to delete and give it a try. If you are still having problems deleting the file, proceed to the next method below.

Method 2: Restart Windows Explorer

Windows explorer is the program responsible for file management on Windows 10. It is possible that Windows Explorer has encountered a bug or error which results in files being unable to delete.

Restarting Windows Explorer on the task manager might be able to fix the problem of deleting files.

Step 1: Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to Open Task Manager

Step 2: Click on the Processes tab

process tab

Step 3: Scroll down and find Windows Explorer

Step 4: Select Windows Explorer and Click on Restart

end windows explorer task

Step 5: After restarting Windows Explorer, try deleting the file you are having problems with and see if the issue is fixed.

Method 3: Use Resource Monitor

Step 1: Press on Windows key + R to open the Run command

Step 2: Type resmon.exe and click ok

resmon exe command

Step 3: On Resource Monitor, Click on the CPU tab

Step 4: Expand Associated Handles

resource monitor

Step 5: Copy the name of the folder or file you are trying to delete

copy filename

Step 6: Paste the file name on the search bar on Associated Handles

Step 7: Press Enter

associated handles

Step 8: A program name will appear on the menu; this is the program that is preventing the file from being deleted.

Step 9: Right-click on the program and click on the end process

After ending the process, try to delete the file or folder.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert at all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. He also enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie as well as entertaining at his home theater.