Personal Computer Fixes

How to Delete Locked Files in Windows

delete locked files

We’ve all been there – you’re trying to delete a file in Windows, but for some reason your operating system tells you that the file can’t be deleted because it’s still in use. So you go and check that everything is closed, yet you still can’t delete that file. Luckily, there are things you can do to unlock a locked file and delete it really quickly. Here is how.

Close all running programs

The first thing you should do is check whether you really closed the program that was using the file. Some programs get minimized to the system tray when you click on the Close button instead of actually closing. Check your system tray and see if the program is still running. If it is, close the program and try deleting the file again.

End the Application in the Task Manager

If clicking on the Close button didn’t close the program, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager on your computer. There you will see which applications are running. Select the program you want to close and choose the option to close it. You may see a message “Not responding” next to the program name, which means that the program got frozen and you need to force-close it to delete the file you want to delete.

Reboot your computer

If closing all running programs and closing the application via the Task Manager didn’t work, try rebooting your PC. Rebooting can solve many issues and it will for sure help you close any programs that were running and for some reason failed to close. Rebooting will also clear your PC’s memory, which will help your computer to run faster and fix other minor issues.

Use Third Party Tools

If nothing else helps, you’ll need to use a third party tool to unlock and delete the file. First of all, you’ll need to clean the registry because an error in the registry may be preventing the program from closing properly. Use our recommended tool to fix registry errors and then try deleting the file again. And if that doesn’t work, use a free tool called Unlocker.


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