Sometimes, Windows won’t let you delete a file, claiming that another program is using it… even if you don’t know which program it is. Luckily, Microsoft will soon save the day with a PowerToy that identifies which program is locking your file.
A New Powertoy: File Locksmith
As spotted by Neowin, Microsoft is currently working on a PowerToy called “File Locksmith”. When you encounter a file locked by a process, this powertoy can tell you exactly what’s holding the file you want to edit.
You can see how it works on the FileLocksmith GitHub page. Whenever a file is causing problems, you can right-click on it and select “What is using this file?” You can select a new context menu called . This brings up a window that lists all the processes it’s locking, and gives you a button to close them if necessary.
It’s still working; For example, right now, Windows doesn’t respect your dark mode setting for Windows. However, in terms of functionality, it is already shaping up to be a great looking device.
A new tool for an old problem
It’s great to see Microsoft finally publish File Locksmith PowerToy. For a long time, Windows users have been plagued with files getting locked by unknown processes.
Usually, this is a good thing; Locking a file prevents the user from editing or deleting a file that is currently in use. However, sometimes Windows won’t let you delete a file even if no program is open.
Previously, you needed to use one of the methods to delete a file being used by a program on Windows. However, with this handy tool, you’ll have a quick and easy way to free any file, no matter what’s locking it.
Some new toys to play with
This new File Locksmith PowerToy is a great solution to a problem that has plagued Windows users for years. And while it works great now, here’s looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it’s finally done.
When you delete a file on your Windows PC, Windows usually does all the heavy lifting. However, in rare cases, users sometimes cannot remove stubborn files with normal methods.
Are there any files on your PC that you can’t delete with File Explorer’s standard deletion options? If yes, you may be able to forcefully delete that file with the methods outlined in this guide.
Why can’t I delete a stubborn file?
Windows locks files when they are in use by a program. A file in the locked state cannot be deleted. File locking is the most common reason users cannot delete files.
Even when you don’t have any software open on the taskbar, there may be a background program running that is still using the file. Or maybe Windows hasn’t fully completed the unlock operation for the file. In such a scenario, you may see a file in use message pop up when you try to delete it.
There may be other possible reasons why you cannot delete a file. The file you are trying to delete may be infected with a virus or corrupted in some way. There could also be a problem with your hard drive or Recycle Bin. However, such reasons for ‘non-removable’ files are rare.
How to delete stubborn files from command prompt
This method involves forcefully deleting a file from the command prompt. When standard deletion methods fail, entering a special command to delete a read-only file may do the trick. This is how you can delete a file from the command prompt.
Replace file in the force delete command with the actual title of the file you are trying to delete. If the file title contains spaces, you must also add inverted commas around the name.
How to Delete Stubborn Files with Hotkeys
Windows 11’s Shift + Del hotkey can force delete a stubborn file if there’s a problem with your Recycle Bin. Pressing the Shift + Del key combination usually deletes the file without going to the Recycle Bin. So, that keyboard shortcut might be worth a try when other removal methods don’t work.
As a nice addition, try closing background programs and apps before selecting to delete a file with that hotkey. Close all software windows (except File Explorer) on your taskbar.