How to delete those pesky "locked" files in Windows

by Ross McKillop on October 13, 2006

Windows

This could also be called “How to use Unlocker”

Unlocker is a free Windows utility that lets you know what programs are getting in the way of deleting a file. For more info, read on..

The “file in use” error comes in many forms -

error deleting file or folder

And (or):
There has been a sharing violation.
The source or destination file may be in use.
The file is in use by another program or user.

Save yourself the time of trying to figure out what program is using the file you’re trying to delete by downloading and installing Unlocker (freeware!)

Using Unlocker:

  1. If you installed Unlocker with the default settings, the next time you try to delete a file that’s in use, you’ll get a pop-up message similar to the one below
  2. unlocker to the rescue

  3. If only one item is returned, select it and click Unlock (if multiple items are returned, click Unlock All)
  4. If unlock doesn’t work, right-click on the problem file/folder and choose Unlocker
  5. right click the file or folder and choose unlocker

  6. Depending on the file or folder, you’ll be presented with different options. It’s always a good idea to exercise caution when using a program like this – so go easy on Killing Processes and make sure that the file you’re deleting is one that should  be deleted. Windows can be very unforgiving.

    unlocker to the rescue again

  7. When all else fails, Unlocker will offer to delete the file as soon as your PC reboots.

    delete the file after next reboot

For more info, see the Unlocker FAQ section.

  • http://qureyoon.blogspot.com/ qureyoon

    hmm… based on your screenshots, i think this one deserves a try ;)

    if it’s good i’ll post it to my blog ^^

    thx for the info ^^ always love your articles ;)

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

    qureyoon – thanks for the kind words :)

    Ross

  • Dreux

    In case you’re paranoid like me here is “safest” way to delete those pesky files. I say safest because you are trusting a total stranger by using sofware you’ve never heard of. That being said, I tried Unlocker and it didn’t work, forcing me to find out how to do it another way.

    Step 1: Turn off Simple File Sharing
    Open “My Computer”
    Tools -> Folder Options…
    Goto “View” tab
    Goto the last checkbox in the “Advanced settings”
    Uncheck “Use simple file sharing (Recommended)”

    Step 2: Find the file you can’t delete in Windows Explorer
    Right-click on that file or folder
    Select “Properties”
    Goto the “Security” tab
    Click the “Advanced” button at the bottom of the window
    Select the “Owner” tab
    Change the “Current owner of this item: ” to your username and
    select the checkbox “Replace owner on subcontainers and object”

    Step 3: “OK” out of the properties and you should now be able to delete the file!

  • http://www.zoned.dk Henrik

    I’ve used for some time now, and i think it’s great.
    Used it several times to delete that annoying “index.dat” in “Temporary Internet Files”

  • flix

    is there and equivalent program for mac??

  • Dri-Anna

    A big Thank You for Unblocker.
    Do you have a locked Folder which you would like to delete? Unblocker will do it.
    When performing a scan to delete files do you get a dialog that it can’t do it? Unblocker does it every time.
    No I do not have any connection with Unblocker or the folks that it belongs too.
    I am just a very satisfied User of this Free Application.

  • http://yahoo loreta

    como elimino un programa de seguridad