How to Solve “File Is Open in Another Program” Error in Windows 10

File Open In Another Program Windows Hero

While using Windows 10, you may have tried to delete a file or move it to another location and encountered an error which states “Action Cannot Be Completed Because The File is Open in Another Program,” even though you have not opened the file in any program. There are a number of reasons why this error may arise. Here are several fixes that may help address this problem.

Is the File Open on Another Computer?

If your computer is connected to a local network – either at home or in the office – then it’s possible that the file you’re looking to close is open elsewhere on the network (possibly even by accident!).

If you suspect that the file may be open on another computer on the network, you don’t have to go through the awkwardness of asking around the office or messing around on other computers.

Instead, click Start, search for “computer management” and open it.

File Open In Another Program Windows Disconnect Open Files

In the new window, click the drop-down arrow next to System Tools, the drop-down arrow next to Shared Folders, then Open Files.

This will show any shared files that are open on your network. You can right-click the file then close it or click an empty space and “Disconnect All Open Files.”

Locate the File in Task Manager

Use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.

File Error Task Manager End Task

Look for the file in the Processes tab which shows you all the applications that are currently being used, whether with or without your knowledge.

Select the file and tap on the “End Task” option near the bottom of the Manager window to stop the file from being used by a program.

Go back to the file and try to delete it again. If it still doesn’t work, move on to the next step.

Restart File Explorer through Task Manager

Once again, open Task Manager and go to the Processes tab.

Scroll all the way down until you find the Windows Explorer process. Right-click it, then click “End Task.”

File Open In Another Program Windows End Task

Go to File at the top of the Manager window and select “Run New Task.”

In the new window that opens, type “explorer.exe” and hit Enter.

File Error Start New Task

This process will restart Windows Explorer to clear up any problems with its memory or cached files that might have been causing the issue.

Once again, go to the file and try to delete it. If it still doesn’t work, move on to the next step.

Turn Off the Caching of Thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db Files

Microsoft has admitted in the past that the thumbnails cache relating to files and folders can cause the “File is Open In Another Program” error, so tackling the thumbnails cache can help resolve the error.

1. Press Win + R.

2. Type gpedit.msc, then hit Enter.

File Error Run Gpedit Task

3. In the new window that pops up, go to “User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> File Explorer.”

File Error Local Policy Group Editor

4. Go to the right pane and double-click on the “Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files.”

File Error Turn Off Caching Thumbs

5. Select the button next to Enabled and then Apply, followed by OK.

All the thumbnails in File Explorer will now be disabled, allowing you to carry out the desired action on the file. You can then re-enable the thumbnails by following the above steps and changing the policy back to “Not Configured.”

Delete Temporary Files

Temporary files are stored on your computer every time you modify a file in any manner. These temporary files many be preventing you from moving or deleting the related files. Here is how you can get rid of the temporary files from your computer storage.

1. Press Win + R.

2. Type %temp% into the input bar and press Enter.

File Error Run Temp Files Task

3. In the new folder that opens containing all the temporary files stored in your File Explorer, press Ctrl + A to select all the files and delete them together.

File Error Delete Temp Files

4. There may still be temporary files stored in another location. Again, press Win + R, type temp and press Enter.

File Error Other Temp Files Task

5. Once again, select all the temporary files in the folder that opens and delete them all.

Check the Folder for Viruses

Finally, if none of the above methods work, the problem might be more serious. There might be a virus associated with the file that is preventing you from making changes to the file. Run the file through your antivirus software to locate any virus or malware it might contain.

If this does turn out to be the case, isolate the file using your antivirus software and delete it before it can infect other files.

The “File Is Open in Another Program” error can be a frustrating problem to encounter. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to tackle it! If you want to keep your Windows PC in good health, then see our guide on monitoring your hard drive health. We can also help you customize your Windows 10 desktop with Rainmeter.

Robert Zak
Robert Zak

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

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