How Do I Delete a File That Won't Delete?

by Stephen Lilley ; Updated September 28, 2017

If a particular file that you're trying to delete won't remove itself from your computer's hard drive, this means the file is in use by some program on your machine. You can't delete a file if it is currently being accessed. Instead of going to the trouble of finding which open program or background process is using a particular file (it can be quite difficult to do so if it isn't immediately apparent to you), a simple alternative will work just as well.

Restart your computer. This will close down all of the programs and background processes that are currently running, which will free up the file for deletion.

Right-click on the file that you're trying to delete.

Click "Delete."

Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on your Windows desktop.

Click "Empty Recycle Bin" to delete the file from your computer forever.

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About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.

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