Unable to Delete a Folder in Use by Another Program? Here is the Fix

Are you getting the “Folder In Use – The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program” error while deleting a folder in Windows? It means you are unable to delete the folder because it is in use by another program. So, how to find the program that is using the file or folder, and how to fix this issue? Well, keep reading to find the answer.

There can be several programs or background tasks preventing you from deleting or renaming a folder. When you try to rename or delete such a folder, you get the “Folder In Use” error. Sometimes, insufficient NTFS permissions can also prevent you from deleting or renaming a folder. There are several third-party tools that can help you with finding the culprit process. However, in this tutorial, we will share a native method to fix this issue.

Folder in Use by Another Program – Here is How to Delete it

First of all, make sure that you have sufficient permissions to delete the folder. You can try taking ownership of the folder. However, you may still be unable to delete a folder that is in use by another program.

Unable To Delete Or Rename The Folder In Use
Unable to Delete or Rename the Folder in Use

Now, the next step would be to find the application or process that is using the folder in question. You can use the Process Explorer from Sysinternals to do it. However, the Windows native Resource Monitor utility can also help you find the process occupying your folder or file.

Let’s check the process in detail. We have used Windows 11 in this tutorial, however, you can use the same steps for Windows 7, 8, 10, Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022 as well.

Step 1: Open Resource Monitor on your Windows PC

So, when you are unable to delete a folder that is in use, you must first kill the process that is using the folder. To find that process, we will use the Resource Monitor utility in Windows.

To open Resource Monitor, search for “resource monitor” on the Start menu and run it as administrator from the search results.

Launch the Resource Monitor from Start
Launch the Resource Monitor from the Start

You may see a UAC Prompt, click Yes to open the Resource Monitor on Windows.

Resource Monitor Windows 11
Resource Monitor – Windows 11

Step 2: Search for the Process using the Folder

Now, it’s time to find the culprit process due to which we are unable to delete the folder in use. To do that, go to the CPU tab in Resource Monitor.

Here, go to the “Associated Handles” section and type the name of the folder (that you are unable to delete) in the search box. It will automatically filter out the process handles that contain the folder name you typed.

Search the folder name in Associated Handles on CPU tab
Search the folder name in Associated Handles on the CPU tab

This is the actual culprit process preventing you from deleting the folder. It’s time to kill this process to release the folder in use.

Step 3: End the Culprit Process to Release the Folder in Use

So, right-click on the process that is keeping your folder in use, and select End Process to kill the process.

End the Process that is using the Folder making it unable to delete
End the Process using the folder

You may see a confirmation dialog box, click End Process to continue.

Confirm End Process
Confirm End Process

After killing the process, try to refresh it again to make sure no associated handles are remaining.

Click Refresh to view if the Folder is still in use
Refresh the View

Step 4: Successfully Delete the Folder That was in Use

Now that there are no associated handles, it’s time to delete the folder that you were unable to delete because it was in use by another program.

Simply, right-click on the folder and select delete to delete the folder. Or use the Shift + Delete keyboard shortcut to permanently delete the folder and bypass the Recycle Bin.

Delete the Folder without any errors
Delete the Folder

This time, you will not get the “Folder In Use” error. The issue has been fixed.

Delete the Files and Folders that are in Use by Another Program

The above tutorial explained how you can easily delete the folders or a file that is in use by another program. We have used the native Resource Monitor utility in Windows, but you can also try third-party tools to do the same.

Hope you liked this tutorial. In case, you are still having issues deleting a folder in use by another program, comment below. You may also like to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates via email.

Editorial Staff

Hi there, we are the editorial staff at WINDOSPC (former HELLPC). We are a team of funny and technical people. Feel free to get in touch with us via Contact-Us page.

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