Have you ever tried to delete a file only to have Windows respond that the file cannot be deleted because it is in use by one of your programs, but there are no programs running? This is one of Microsoft Windows’ most irritating annoyances, and it happens all too often.
There are several ways to go about deleting these ‘locked’ files. Try the following in the order in which they are listed until you find a method that works for you:
1 – Log out of the current Windows user session and then log back in. Logging out and back in resets your Windows workspace, usually freeing up the locked file so you can delete it.
2 – Restart Windows. This resets the entire Windows operating environment which usually frees up the file and allows you to delete it.
3 – And here is the “nuclear option”: Shut down the PC and boot it into Safe Mode. in addition to resetting the entire Windows operating environment, Safe Mode also prevents most drivers and all Startup programs from loading, ensuring that there is nothing whatsoever running that could possibly lock a file and prevent it from being deleted.
4 – If you’d rather skip all the above and unlock your locked files the quick and easy way, download a great free utility called Unlocker. This little gem will immediately unlock any locked file, allowing you to delete it right away – no logging out or rebooting required! Click here to download Unlocker from FileHippo.