How to Fix “File is Open in Another Program” Error in Windows


Last updated on August 8th, 2023 at 1:30 pm


We often encounter error messages that can be perplexing and frustrating. One such error that Windows users frequently encounter is the “File is Open in Another Program” message. This annoying pop-up appears when you attempt to modify, move, or delete a file, only to be informed that it is currently being used by another application, that can disrupt your workflow. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will equip you with practical methods to overcome it. Whether you’re a seasoned computer whiz or a casual user, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of troubleshooting and fixing this error in Windows, enabling you to regain control of your files and restore your productivity.

File Is Open in Another Program

How to Fix the “File Is Open in Another Program” Error in Windows

Solution 1: Reboot your PC

When you encounter the frustrating error in Windows, you might be surprised by the effectiveness of a straightforward solution. It’s time to give your computer a refreshing restart and see if it can resolve the underlying hiccup responsible for this error message.

Solution 2: Terminate the App Using Task Manager

If a simple reboot didn’t do the trick, it’s time to use another workaround – Task Manager. This handy tool allows you to identify and forcefully terminate the application that’s holding your file hostage, causing the “File is Open in Another Program” error. Here’s what you need to do:

Terminate the App Using Task Manager

Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, locate the troublesome application in the list and click “End Task” to forcefully terminate it. 

Solution 3: Customize File Explorer Settings

To tackle the persistent “File is Open in Another Program” error, let’s delve into the settings of File Explorer. By customizing a specific option, we can eliminate potential conflicts and regain control over your files. Here’s how you can do it:

Open File Explorer by pressing the Windows key + E or by clicking on the folder icon in the taskbar.

Once File Explorer is open, tap on the three-dot icon located at the top of the window. Select “Options”. 

Customize File Explorer Settings

Now, switch to the “View” tab, and look for an option called “Launch folder windows in a separate process.” Take a moment to ensure that this option is not checked. If it is, click on the checkbox to uncheck it.

After unchecking the option, click on the “Apply” button to save the changes you’ve made.

By disabling the “Launch folder windows in a separate process” option, you are modifying how File Explorer handles multiple instances.

Solution 4: Delete the File Using Command Prompt

When faced with the persistent “File is Open in Another Program” error, another powerful technique involves utilizing Command Prompt to delete the file using its address. By following these steps, you can override any conflicts and bid farewell to the troublesome file:

Begin by opening File Explorer and locating the file you wish to delete. Make note of its complete address or path.

Next, open Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key + R to launch the Run dialog box. Type “cmd” and press Enter.

Delete the File Using Command Prompt

The Command Prompt window will appear. Now, input the command “del /f file_address” (without the quotes), where “file_address” is the complete address or path of the file you want to delete. To paste the file address, right-click inside the Command Prompt window and choose “Paste.” Press Enter to execute the command.

Command Prompt will initiate the file deletion process, bypassing any program locks or restrictions. If the file is successfully deleted, you will see a confirmation message in the Command Prompt window.

Finally, close the Command Prompt window. By copying the file address from File Explorer and using Command Prompt to forcefully delete it, you’re taking direct control over the file deletion process. 

Solution 5: Check Network Sharing

If the file is located on a network shared folder, verify that there are no active connections or users accessing the file. Disconnect any unnecessary network connections and try accessing the file again.

Solution 6: Perform a Thorough Malware Scan to Safeguard Your System

One of the significant culprits behind the “File is Open in Another Program” error can be sneaky malware infections. These malicious entities can wreak havoc on your system, causing file conflicts and disrupting access. To combat this threat, it’s crucial to undertake a comprehensive malware scan using trusted software. By doing so, you can root out any hidden malware and pave the way for a smoother file management experience.

Ensure that you have reliable antivirus software installed on your computer. If not, choose a reputable antivirus program and install it. Ensure it is up to date with the latest virus definitions.

Solution 7: Use Third-Party Unlocker Tools

Tried the above-listed solutions and still unable to resolve the error? There’s a secret weapon at your disposal: specialized third-party unlocker tools. These tools are designed to help you release stubborn file locks imposed by other programs, granting you the freedom to modify or delete the file without hassle. By utilizing these tools, you can override the error and regain control over your files.

file unlocker to fix the file is open in another program

Research and identify reputable third-party unlocker tools available for your operating system. There are several options available online, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Some of the most reliable options include Unlocker, Microsoft Process Explorer, LockHunter, and others. 


The “File is Open in Another Program” error in Windows can be a frustrating roadblock, but it’s not insurmountable. By employing techniques such as rebooting, using Task Manager, customizing File Explorer settings, and leveraging command prompt or third-party tools, you can triumph over this error and regain control of your files. With these solutions at your disposal, you will have the knowledge and tools to overcome any file-related hurdles.

Author Bio:

Dinesh Lakhwani

Dinesh Lakhwani, the entrepreneurial brain behind “TechCommuters,” achieved big things in the tech world. He started the company to make smart and user-friendly tech solutions. Thanks to his sharp thinking, focus on quality and the motto of never giving up, TechCommuters became a top player in the industry. His commitment to excellence has propelled the company to a leading position in the industry.

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