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

File Error Graphic

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 might arise, so here are ways to tackle each of those reasons and solve the error:

Restart your computer

Turn off your computer and then start it up again. This method will end all pending tasks that may be causing the error and allow your File Explorer to restart its internal processes from scratch, which might help solve the issue you’re having. If not, move on to the next step.

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.

Here you will find the Windows Explorer program currently in use. Select the process and tap on the “End Task” option.

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 reboot 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 and 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.

Empty Recycle bin

Sometimes, sending a file to the Recycle bin can be viewed as an action by your computer, which results in the error we have been trying to solve. Another way to solve the issue is to go to your Recycle bin and empty the entire folder by selecting the files and deleting them. Be warned that this will delete all the files in the recycle bin permanently, so make sure to only select the files you are absolutely sure you will no longer need.

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.

Conclusion

The “File Is Open in Another Program” error can be a frustrating problem to encounter. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to tackle the issue as mentioned in the previous sections. If the cause of the issue turns out to be a virus, it is better to be aware of the fact that there is a virus inside your computer so you can take steps to remove the malware from your device.

Neeraj Chand Neeraj Chand

Content writer with a keen interest in global technology and pop culture trends.

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