Why does Windows 7 say I cannot rename files because they are open when they are not?

Damon OSBORNE June 10, 2011

In Windows 7, I often try to rename a file and AFTER going through typing the longest track name or such it says I can’t rename because it is open when it is not. No other apps running.

  1. Danielfoutz
    March 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Well it worked for me!  It's always a word file it seems.  I went to task manager, hit processes and sure enough WINWORD was in there with no word file open.  Removed process and now file could be deleted (and I assume renamed as well).  Thanks everyone!

  2. Tina
    June 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm


    were you able to solve the problem with the tips provided above? Please keep us updated! Thank you.

  3. Derek A. Blackburn
    June 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

    If it's a bit torrent or peer to peer file, then it is more than likely open in the program you were downloading it from.

  4. Qaweem123
    June 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

    try opening task manager by alt+ctrl+delete go to processes tab and close any thing that might be causing the problem by clicking end task

  5. paradox
    June 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    This kind of problem happened to me but with firefox(it didn't let me open ff after i closed it because it said it was still running) if you still have the same problem you can try to open the task manager, under processes try to find the type of file that it's still running and end the process from there.

    • Alex House
      June 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

      That only works with programs, not files, and only really happens with programs like Firefox which check to see if they are running (most programs can run over and over again). Files won't show up in Task Manager, only processes, which files aren't.

  6. ToyBiz
    June 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I ran into the same problem yesterday. I had to restart and then for some reason, I was able to rename the folder. Who really knows?

  7. Anonymous
    June 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Check if the same issue persists in Safe Mode.

    Try Unlocker 
    1. Simply right click the folder or file and select Unlocker

    2. If the folder or file is locked, a window listing of lockers will appear

    3. Simply click Unlock All and you are done! do not delete the file is just to see whats hangs it. then you can securely close that application and rename your files.


    a. Click Start, type msconfig.exe in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type your password, or click Continue.
    b. On the General tab, click the Normal Startup option, and then click OK.
    c. When you are prompted to restart the computer, click Restart.

    the limitation of 255 characters in a file path is a Windows limitation
    This explains that Unicode versions of Windows APIs have higher limits, and how to enable that


    June 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Hello, sometimes this can be caused by the security software installed on your system.  What kind of antivirus do you have installed?  Just to check if that is the reason for your problem, try disabling any real time file protection.  Just make sure that you turn it back on after your trial.  Hope it helps,

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