One of the most commonly faced errors in Windows 10 occurs, when you try to move or delete a file, i.e. “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in another program”. A file cannot be moved or deleted if it is actually open on your computer. However, if you have closed the file or never opened the file in the current session of your computer, then this error message is not legit and can be resolved by the following steps:
Methods to Resolve “The File Is Open In Another Program Error” Error in Windows 10.
When you open a file on a computer, it loads up in your RAM. That’s why when the file is open, you can neither change the actual location of the file nor can delete it. All you can do is make changes to that file or create a copy of the same file. However, if you are facing this error even though the file has been closed or was not opened in the first place, then you can follow these steps:
Method 1. Restart the computer.
One of the quick resolutions to almost 50% of the computer issues is to shut down the computer and restart it after a few minutes. In this case, a simple restart would work, and you do not have to wait to turn your computer on again. One of the possible reasons for ‘the file is open in another program’ error is the fact that the file might have been left open in the memory. A restart will wipe out the memory and close all the internal processes and thus resolve the error.
Method 2. Use Task Manager to end the process.
If you have something else running in your computer and cannot restart the computer, then follow these steps to resolve the action can’t be completed error:
Step 1. Open the task manager by making a right-click on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager from the menu.
Step 2. In the Processes tab, scan through the list of the current processes that are running in your computer, and locate the process which seems to have opened the file.
Step 3. Select that process, and click on the End Task button located near the bottom right corner of the Task Manager window.
Step 4. Try to delete or move the file, and the required action will be carried out.
Method 3. Use Task Manager to restart the Windows Explorer.
If the above step doesn’t work, then there is another method that can be tried in the Task Manager itself. This method will clear up all the memory or any files that might have been cached for further use.
Step 1. Locate the Windows Explorer process, and select the process.
Step 2. While the process is selected, press the End Task Button on the bottom right corner of the Task Manager window. This will shut down the Windows Explorer Process.
Note: When this process is stopped from running, you will now be able to access any folders, or your desktop and the icons shortcuts on your taskbar along with the search bar will disappear. The Windows key will also not work leaving you stuck at the current application that is open and the task manager window only.
Step 3. On the Task Manager window, click on File and then Run New Task.
Step 4. A new window will open. Type Explorer.exe in the box, and click on OK.
Step 5. Your Windows 10 will resort back to normal you can try to move or delete the file, which was earlier giving the error ‘the file is open in another program’.
Method 4. Turn off thumbnails caching.
Many users face the error ‘the file is open in another program’ due to the cache of thumbnails created by Windows 10, which is related to the files and folders located on your system. A simple change in the Windows 10 system policies will help to resolve this error.
Step 1. Press the Windows key and the letter R on your keyboard.
Step 2. A new window will open. Type gpedit.msc in the Run box and click on OK.
Step 3. The Local Group Policy Editor will open. On the left side list, locate User Configuration and then Administrative Template and Windows Components under the same tree and finally File Explorer. Click on File Explorer.
Step 4. Once you make a single click on the File Explorer, you will find a list of settings on the right side. From the long list, locate “ Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files” and double-click on it.
Step 5. Another window will open, click the radio button next to Enabled. Then click on the Apply Button and OK.
The above steps will disable all the thumbnails in the File Explorer, and this will resolve “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in another program” error. You can try your desired actions on the same file.
Note: Once you have completed your task then you can set this policy back to its previous state which was Not Configured.
Method 5. Delete temporary files.
Microsoft has designed the Windows 10 operating system such that it creates temporary files whenever a file is modified. The accumulation of these temporary files not only occupies unnecessary space but also can prevent you from deleting or moving a particular file. To resolve “the file is open in another program” error, you can delete the temporary files and here are quick steps to do just that:
Step 1. Open the Run window by pressing the Windows key and R on the keyboard.
Step 2. In the input box next to Open, type %temp% and press OK.
Step 3. A new window displaying the contents of the temp folder will open.
Step 4. Select all the files in this folder by Pressing CTRL and A together and delete all of them.
Step 5. Once all the files all deleted, reopen the RUN windows and type just temp in the input box. This is the second temporary files folder.
Step 6. Select all the files in this folder too and delete them.
This step will ensure that no copy of the file you are having issues with, is saved or open in the computer elsewhere without your knowledge. And this step will also free up some space on your hard drive.
Method 6. Empty Recycle bin.
When you delete a file, it primarily goes into the recycle bin from where it can be restored. The action of the file moving from its present location to the recycle bin is recorded in the temporary memory of your computer and can result in the action can’t be completed error. Open Recycle bin and check all the files to identify if you have accidentally deleted an important file. If not, then you can select all the files and delete them.
Note: Any file deleted from the Recycle bin is deleted permanently and the chances of recovering it back are less than 80%.
For more information on How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files, click here.
Method 7. Run a Malware Scan.
“The action can’t be completed because the file is open in another program” error is a Windows system error that is generally not considered a serious issue and can be resolved by the above-mentioned methods. However, if you are still facing the same issue after trying out all these steps, then I suggest you run a malware scan on your computer to check for any malicious entities present on your computer.
I have been using Advanced System Protector for the past 4 years and am quite content using it. One of the most important qualities of any Anti-Malware is, that its virus definition database stays updated and Advanced System Protector is one of the few Anti-Malware Software that receives updates regularly.
The Final Word on “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in another program”.
This error occurs rarely, but when it does, it can be frustrating because there is a specific file you want to work with and just can’t. It leaves you helpless for no apparent reason at all. I am sure that these methods described above will help you to resolve this error, should it occur on your PC. Do subscribe to our Systweak Blogs and YouTube Channel for more articles like this, and if there is any issue related to your computer, drop in a note in the comments section.