Why does Windows Explorer say a video file is open when I try to delete it?

Anonymous March 5, 2014

I have a video file I want to delete, but whenever I try, Windows Explorer says its in use. It’s not! What gives?

  1. Philip Andersson
    March 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Malwarebytes Fileassassin

  2. Adrian H
    March 6, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Use Unlocker


    You can use it to release any handle on the file or schedule the file for deletion on reboot

  3. Simranjeet S
    March 6, 2014 at 4:52 am

    There could be several reasons for this
    1. Virus: There is some program running in background that doesn't not let the file/folder to be deleted.
    2. File/Folder Currently in use: As you said above the the file/folder is not in use, but may not be it is in use as shown on your screen, but that program is still running in background, simply open task manager and see the processes running.
    3. Sometimes you can not delete a file that gets corrupt, that happens when you remove storage device while copying from external source, sometimes power goes off while copying,.
    Solutions :
    ---- Install a good antivirus and scan that file for virus.
    ---- Install process killer to kill that process that stops the file to be deleted, though can be done with task manager.
    ---- If any of the above does not works, boot your pc to some other OS, i.e Linux delete file from it.

    And nothing helps you take backup of rest of your data and format that particular drive..

  4. Lye F
    March 6, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Use Process Explorer (from Microsoft or previously SysInternals) to find out the program that has the file handle opened (using Find Handle/DLL feature). You will be able to figure the process that have the file handle opened, which you can kill the process, and you will be able to delete the file after that.

    Process Explorer can be downloaded from:

  5. Jim
    March 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Try the task manager to find the running process. Otherwise, open the command prompt, go to the files directory and delete it.

  6. Adam B
    March 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Use Task Manager to kill the process that's holding it open. But if you don't know what process it is, Task Manager won't help.
    Instead install this free Microsoft tool:

  7. Honyin K
    March 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Use unlocker to unlock the open files handles. If it cannot delete due to system processes, you can set the file to delete on next reboot.


  8. Rob Arnott
    March 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    1) Open command prompt

    2) Go to the folder where the file is located (use command cd foldername to enter in to a folder and cd// to come out of a folder) and type del yourfile.whatever don’t press ENTER .

    3) Open windows task manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete) and go to processes tab and locate explorer.exe , right click on it od select end process (not end process tree). don’t close the task manager .

    4) Go back to command prompt and press enter. Now the file is deleted.

    5) Go to task manager again and select file>New Task and type explorer.exe and press ok .

  9. Renny Delgado
    March 5, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I've always found that the file IS actually open but the host program Ui is not showing. Happens a lot with VLC. Use Task Manager and close the host application and try again.

  10. Reg Hacquer
    March 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I've had s similar thing happen in Mac OS X. Any theories about the cause/solution?

  11. Faisal K
    March 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    use process explorer (google for proceexp.exe) or unlocker

  12. Hasle
    March 5, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I can only support Oron J: I had some empty folders that were impossible to delete; Windows told me they were no longer there, but they kept showing up in Explorer. I tried to «unlock» them with Unlocker, but it told me there was no lock handle. The program asked me what I wanted to do. One choice was «delete», and at last I got rid of them!

  13. Col-Hectroz
    March 5, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    You can use a software like Unlocker by Cedrick 'Nitch' Collomb.
    A free software I use for years now.
    http://www.emptyloop.com/unlocker/ - <for more info.
    Be careful during installation noting is really free, it come with 3rd party software you might not need.
    Don,t do the recommended installation choose what you want to install ;)

    • Steve W
      March 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      I have been using Unlocker for years and it works GREAT!

  14. brian
    March 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    i usually reboot the computer and then delete the file. something in the process that is marking its territory on the file.

  15. Wim
    March 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Just restart your pc and then delete the file

  16. Pampam L
    March 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Try checking it in the task manager. Maybe, it automatically runs when you try to delete it.

  17. Oron J
    March 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Sometimes the "lock" bit of a file remains on for no obvious reason, and as Hovsep suggests, a reboot might clear that. If not, install Unlocker (http://www.emptyloop.com/unlocker/) on your PC and use that to unlock the file before deleting it.

    • Bruce E
      March 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      I've seen this most frequently when using Windows Media Player to view video files. For whatever reason, it does not release the file handle when the program has been closed after viewing a file. Rebooting the machine will clear the file handle and allow the file to be deleted. You could also restart the WMPNetworkSvc (the sharing service for media files) to achieve the same effect. After restarting the computer or the service you should be able to delete the file.

  18. Liza B
    March 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Sometimes your explore maybe running in back-end. You can open task manager by right-clicking your mouse when hangover the indicator in Taskbar (the bottom of your pc desk). Check the ongoing application, find the explore, choose "End Task", then reopen your explore, done! (My windows is windows 8, i wish it's helpful for you.)

  19. Ferdinan S
    March 5, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Did you play the video before you delete it? if yes, there is a possibility that the video application is running in a background. All you need to do is press CTRL+ALT+DEL, choose task manager and find the application you use to open it. Right click and choose "End Process TREE". After that you can delete the file

    • Howard B
      March 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      An easier way (of several) to get to Task Manager is CTRL+SHIFT+ESC; you can also select Task Manager from the right-click menu of an empty spot on the Task Bar. CTRL+ALT+DEL to get to Task Manager is a holdover from Windows 9x.

  20. Hovsep A
    March 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

    can you reboot to safe mode and delete it?

Ads by Google