One of the most frustrating experiences when using a computer is when you want to delete or rename a file or folder in Windows but get an error saying that the file is in use, opened, shared, or locked by a chapter submission is currently using it.

file in use

You start shutting down all programs running on your computer in the hope that you will be lucky and be able to delete the file, but it still won’t delete. What is your occupation? This guide is designed to answer these questions and provide methods that allow you to delete or delete any actual files in Windows.

4 Steps to Delete or Rename Files and Folders

When trying to delete or rename files or folders, you should follow these steps in the following order:

  1. The first and simplest method is to disable any programs that may be using that file. When a program uses a file, it exclusively locks that file not to be modified or renamed while it is in use. By disabling the program using it, you unlock the file or folder so you can work with it.
  2. Restart your computer. When you restart your computer, this will shut down any open programs, and hopefully, the restart allows you to work with the files mentioned.
  3. Reboot into safe mode and try to rename or delete the directory. When you are safe, a limited number of programs will start automatically. This provides a more significant or possible opportunity to rename or delete a stubborn file or directory.
  4. Last but not least, get a file to unlock utility. File unlocking programs determine which processes are using files and try to close them or disconnect them from files or folders so they can be deleted, renamed, or manipulated manually. These programs tend to do the job for you, so you don’t have to deal with the headaches of finding programs keeping a file open. In the next section, we will explain how to use such a program called IObit Unlocker.

Use IObit Unlocker to Delete or Rename Files and Folders

If you are still reading this, then you should be in step 4 above. To help solve this problem, we introduce a program called IObit Unlocker. Unlocker is a program that starts when Windows is unable to delete or rename a file and offers a variety of options that allow you to do so.

The first step is to download the Unlocker program. This program can be downloaded from the following link:

IObit Unlocker Download Link

Once the program is downloaded, please save it to your desktop and double-click on the file named unlocker-setup.exe to start the installation program. Once the installation program starts, keep pressing the Next button until you get the Finish button.

Now that the program is installed, IObit Unlocker will add an autorun command to your registry to start Unlocker Assistant when Windows starts. This background program persists and detects when you try to delete, copy, rename, or move a file that is in use. It will automatically open a window to help you work with the file when detecting one of these actions. An example has been shown below.

In our example, we are trying to delete a file named C: Test Readme.doc. When we try to delete files, Windows tells us that the file is being used by someone else or the program and cannot delete it. It also shows we close any programs that might be using the file and try again. Well, since we tried the steps before, we know this won’t work and hit OK.

file in use

Error Deleting files or folders

We navigate the C: Test folder to unlock the file, where the file we want to delete is located. Once we are in that folder, we right-click on it and select the IObit Unlocker option, as shown in the image below.

Mở khóa file

Unlock File

When you click on the IObit Unlocker option, the program will start and show the locked files you selected. When it opens, if you get a prompt asking if you want to allow the program to run, you can enable it to do so.

Đã khóa tệp trong IObit Unlocker

Locked file in IObit Unlocker

To unlock the file, click the Unlock button. If not, you should try these steps again, but this time select the Force button before pressing the Unlock button. When you choose the Force option, IObit Unlocker terminates using the file to unlock it. Make sure you save any documents that this program is currently using before using this feature.

If IObit Unlocker can unlock the file, it will change its state to open, as shown in the image below.

Mở khoa file

Unlocked file

You can also use IObit Unlocker to perform and Unlock and instantly delete, rename, copy or move. To do this, click on the small drop-down arrow next to the Unlock button, shown in the image below.

Mở khóa menu thả xuống

Depending on which option you choose, Unlocker will ask where you want to copy or move the file or what filename you want to rename.


With this information, you now know that living with stubborn files is not your only answer. Previously, working with a determined file was the province of a more experienced computer user, but no more. Now with programs like Unlocker, even an ordinary user or a computer starter can take control of their computer and its files.