When you delete a file, the deletion operation fails with the error message File in use – The operation cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.
The reason for this problem is that the program or Windows itself uses or executes the file when you try to delete it, so it cannot be deleted. This quick guide will show you some methods to forcefully delete a file used in Windows 10.
3 things to try before using software to forcefully delete a file in Windows 10
Let’s start with the obvious. If the file you want to delete is an executable file (exe) or a corresponding file in a folder of a known program, close the program first and then try to delete the file again. If you z. B. trying to delete a game file while the game is running, which will obviously result in an error message Cannot delete file in use. You must close the game completely before you can delete a relevant file.
Also check if the program is running in the background. Some programs leave tasks running in the background even after they are closed. You can check the associated processes by going to Task Manager (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC) > Details tab. Check the process list to see if there is a process with the same name or related to the executable you want to delete. Stop affecting the affected processes and try to delete the file again.
Restarting the PC
The goal is to kill any program or associated process that holds a file hostage so it cannot be deleted. When the PC is rebooted, all open processes and programs are theoretically suspended and restarted the next time the PC is booted, except for programs configured to run automatically at startup.
If you don’t know what program is currently using the file, you can try restarting the computer and see if you can delete the file on restart.
Exit the corresponding application that may be using thefile.
Close all relevant applications that might use this file. For example, if you have a text file or document that you want to delete, close Microsoft Word or another appropriate editor. If it is a video you want to delete, close the video player first, even if the video is not playing. Then try deleting the file again.
Forced removal of file used by Unlocker
If you have a file that you don’t know what program is using or running, making it impossible to delete, you can use a program called Unlocker to free the file from whatever is currently holding it hostage so you can delete it.
Unlocker is a free mini tool for Windows developed by IObit, a very popular software developer known for its various useful tools, such as… B. the famous IObit uninstaller.
Follow these steps to unlock and force a file with Unlocker.
- Download and install Unblocker – https://www.iobit.com/en/iobit-unlocker.php
- Right-click the file you want to delete, and then select IObit Unblocker from the context menu.Forcing the deletion of a file that is used with Unlocker
- If the UAC asks for permission, click Yes to continue. Unlocker requires administrator rights to make changes, such as. B. Delete or move files. The UAC prompt should confirm that you grant these permissions to the application.
- In the IObit Unlocker window, select the file you want to delete. There are several ways to do this.
- Click Unlock to unlock the file, and then delete the file manually, usually in File Explorer.
- You can also click on the drop-down menu and select Unlock and Delete if you want the unlock to also perform the delete. The other available options are Rename, Move and Copy.
- If unlocking fails or the file still cannot be deleted, enable the Forced Mode option before unlocking the file. Forced mode attempts to stop the entire associated process before unblocking and deleting the file.
Note that deleting a file with Unlocker permanently deletes the file. The file is not placed in the Recycle Bin, which means you cannot undo the deletion later.
Description to share: Can you not delete a file because it is used by another program or process? Here’s how to force the deletion of a file in Windows 10.
frequently asked questions
How can I force the deletion of a file opened in another program?
To do this, open the Start menu (Windows key), type Start and press Enter. In the dialog box that appears, type cmd and press Enter again. When you open the command line, type del /f, where filename is the name of the file or files (you can specify multiple files with commas) you want to delete.
How do I delete a folder used by another program?
Try Ctrl + Shift + Esc > Programs, then right-click on the desired program and select Disable. Then delete it!
How do I force the deletion of a folder in Windows 10?
Context menu option To unlock and delete a locked file, right-click it, select Force Delete, and Wise Force Deleter will launch. You can then immediately unlock the file and remove it from your Windows system, which is very convenient.
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