It is not always possible to delete a file. For example, because the file is in use or because you have insufficient rights. Get rid of that bullshit. Read here how to always get rid of annoying files in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

There are several reasons why a file cannot be deleted. The most common reason is that the file is being used by a program. For example, you are trying to move a Word document from the desktop to the trash while it is open in a word processor. Then the option is simple: close the open file and try again.

It gets even more annoying if you don’t know in which program the document was opened, or when Windows gives another message because it can’t delete a file. Fortunately, there are several solutions. These of course apply not only to annoying files, but also to entire folders.

task management

Task Manager is a valuable piece when trying to delete a file. Lists all installed programs. You open the task manager with Ctrl+Shift+Esc. on the tab processes you will find a summary of all open programs. If you don’t see a comprehensive overview, first on Windows 10 more details or top right in Windows 11 To show and then expand all.

Does Windows report that a particular file cannot be closed because it is open in a program? Then find the relevant program and right-click it. To choose To finish. All windows of the program are now closed. Try deleting the file again.

Sometimes it’s not a program but a process holding the file hostage. You will notice this if you have closed the program and the file is still in use. Use the task manager to close the process. on the tab processes Search partition in Windows 10 Background Processes as long as it is associated with the program. In Windows 11, you will see the option in the left sidebar of the window below. Detail.

For example: you cannot close a Word document. First, close Word. If the program is still in use after that, you can close it. Background Processes or Detail also associated Word processes (Winword.exe).

Customize Explorer

Windows Explorer provides the option to open each window as a separate process. In the past, this option was checked frequently to make Windows more stable. For example, if one open window crashes, other windows will not be affected if you let them open in a separate process. If the windows are opened in the same process, they will all be closed.

Setting a separate action for each window can cause problems when deleting a file. Therefore, disable the option. Open Windows Explorer (Windows key + E) and select tab in Windows 10 picture or in Windows 11 for the three vertical dots. In both versions of Windows Options and click the tab view. uncheck Open folder windows in a separate process. click OK. Then try to delete the file.

Preview off

Preview can also throw a key at things when you try to delete a file. Preview is enabled in Windows Explorer and shows a preview of a selected file so you don’t have to open the file to view it.

In Explorer, open tab in Windows 10 picture or tab in Windows 11 To show (2x) and click the button preview window. Verify that the preview on the right of the window has disappeared. The Alt+P key combination also makes the preview disappear.

Disk Cleanup

Some files for the operating system cannot be deleted. Then a disk cleanup offers a solution. Open the start menu and type Disk Cleanup. click Disk Cleanup and select a disc. In the main window, click Clean up system files. The scan will be performed again – but this time more thoroughly. In the results window, put the checkmarks next to it. Temporary files. click OK.

Command Line

For slightly more advanced users, the command line is a useful alternative to deleting annoying files. It is necessary to use the full path of the file in question. You can do this with explorer. In the explorer, browse for the file you want to delete. The full path is shown in the address bar. Double click on it to select the path, right click on it and select copy.

command prompt

Open the command line from the start menu. Type Command Prompt and right click on the search result command prompt. To choose Run as administrator. Type the following on the command line: CD . With To use it, right-click the location where you want the path to go. It attaches immediately. Confirm by pressing Enter.

Now close the explorer process to increase the chances of success. Open the task manager mentioned above and right click Windows Explorer. To choose To finish. In the command line window, type: drill <“bestandsnaam”>. For example: Del “administration.docx”. Press Enter. There is a good chance the file will be deleted now. Then restart the closed file process. Select in task manager File, Run New Task. medicine explorer.exe and click OK.

safe mode

You increase your chances of deleting the file by starting Windows in safe mode. Safe mode starts Windows in the cleanest possible environment, thus preventing programs from automatically installing (and then taking your file or folder hostage).

Open the Settings window: Click Start and click the left gear or use the Windows key + I key combination. go Update & Security, System Restore. Bee Advanced Boot Options push the button reboot now. On startup, choose to let Windows start in safe mode. Delete the file immediately after starting it.

Try Process Explorer or LockHunter

Still can’t delete the file? There are many external helpers that help solve the problem. With Process Explorer – from Microsoft itself – you determine which program or which process has opened a file or folder. Download the latest version of Process Explorer from here. You can use the program for free.

Extract all compressed files before starting with Process Explorer. After installation, double click to open Procexp64.exe. In the main window you will find all currently running processes. Use Process Explorer’s built-in search function to find which program or process is using a file.

To choose Find File, Handle or DLL. You can also click the binoculars icon. in the box Handle or DLL substring type the filename. then click Call. The search may take some time: Windows loads a lot of processes in the background. In the results window, look at: Process which programs or processes are holding your file or folder hostage. Then open task manager and end these programs.

Process researcher

LockHunter also helps identify which program is using a file and integrates closely with the Windows user environment. Right click on the file and select What is locking this file?. A list of programs and processes requesting the file appears. Then you have a few options like unlocking the file and deleting the file.

click Other for additional features. of the Delete on Next System Restart Delete the problematic file after Windows restarts. of the Unlock and Rename you can rename the file immediately. of the Unlock and Copy You can copy the file. click more Details to check additional information about the transaction. You can use LockHunter for free. During installation, make sure that the program does not install other programs without prompting you.

key catcher

Caution is recommended when using LockHunter. Before deleting a file, make sure it is not an essential (system) file. Accidental deletion of an incorrect file may result in system damage.


After all, problems with ownership (or better known ‘ownership’) of files also occur regularly in Windows. For example, you cannot move or copy a file or folder because Windows thinks you do not have the correct permissions to do so. This happens, for example, when working with a file created by another user, but after that user has been removed from the system. You solve the problem by ‘applying’ the file yourself.

Open explorer and browse to the folder or file you want to claim ownership of. Right click on the item and select Properties. on the tab Security click Developed. The Advanced Security Settings window appears. Click now change. You will find this option in the line Owner, at the top of the window. click Developed and select the user account you want to access the file or folder. click OK and close these windows.

Now right click on the file or folder again and select propertiesn. select tab Security and click Developed. click To add. click Choose a manager and select the account you want to access the file. click OK and Add Basic permissions a check mark full management. click OK. Place a check mark next to to ensure that this setting applies to all subfolders. Replace all permission entries in child objects with inheritable permission entries from this object. confirm with OK.

Dive deep into Windows 10 and take control of the operating system with the help of our Technology Academy. See the Windows 10 Administration online course or go to the Windows 10 Management pack, which includes the technical and practice book.

Source: Computer Totaal

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