How to Delete Undeletable Files or Folders

Do you ever have an issue with deleting a file or folder? Do you get an error message when you attempt to delete a file or folder?

Many times in the family of Windows operating systems users encounter an issue when they try to delete a file or folder. It can be a few different reasons why you cannot delete a file or folder in Windows.

Do you ever get the following error messages when you try to delete a file or folder?

Cannot delete (file name): Access is denied.

Cannot delete (file name): It is being used by another person or program.
Close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.

How do I get a file or folder to delete if I am getting one of the messages above?

There are many reasons that contribute to a file being undeletable. Usually a file is in a locked state due to another program accessing or using the given file. When a file or folder is in use by another program the file cannot be moved, renamed or deleted. The process or program using the file or folder must be ended.

Follow the steps below to end a process that is locking a file or folder.

Steps to end a process that is locking a file or folder you can use the windows task manager.

  1. You must identify which program is using the file or folder that you are attempting to delete. In some cases you can do this by checking any running programs and the file that is open in the running program. (ie: Photoshop has a .jpeg file that is open that you wish to delete)
  2. Open the task manager by pressing Alt-Ctrl-Delete simultaneously.
  3. In the task manager you can view the running applications and close or end the application that may be using the file you wish to delete.
  4. Select the desired application in the Application tab.
  5. Click End Task.
  6. Delete the desired file after the application has closed.

If this process does not work you can try ending a running process in the task manager than may be attempting to use the file that you wish to delete.

  1. Open the task manager by pressing Alt-Ctrl-Delete simultaneously.
  2. Select the Processes tab within the task manager.
  3. Find the process that you wish to end.
  4. Click End Process.

You may choose to boot your computer into safe mode and then attempt to delete your desired file or folder if none of the other steps work. How to Start Windows in Safe Mode.

Once your computer starts in safe mode you can then attempt to delete the desired file or folder.

If none of the previous steps work in deleting a file or folder then the file may be used by spyware or an unknown system process. A spyware removal guide must be followed to rid your computer from any spyware parasites.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes. By using this information you agree to be bound by the disclaimer. There's no guarantee that you will be able to delete an undeletable file or folder from your computer. Deleting files or folders is at your own risk. is not responsible for any damages that you may cause to your computer. Seek professional help if your computer continues to experience problems.

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  • Jopat

    what if I am not able to kill the process
    and what if the virus infection has infected critical windows files?
    firstly I will not be able to delete critical system files, and if at all I delete them then windows will not boot properly..
    What should be done in this case

  • jb faller

    i cant open my task manager i dont what to do could you help me? pls

  • Nikolai

    Good day! This article helped me with this delima.