Unable to Rename a Folder in Windows 10: 9 Confirmed Fixes

Check our curated list of solutions that work for all

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Key notes

  • If you can't rename a folder on Windows 10, it might be because a background process is using it.
  • Antivirus software on your PC might also be stopping you from changing the name of a folder.
  • A quick and effective way to fix the issue is to change the ownership of the folder.
What to do if I can't rename folder in Windows 10

It is no secret that there is no perfect machine, and you will encounter problems on your Windows PC once in a while. While some can be ignorable, others, like your device ran into a problem and need to restart, can be frustrating.

One such frustrating problem that users are complaining about is the bug in Windows 10 that prevents them from renaming folders.

Why can’t I rename a file folder in Windows 10?

Here are a few reasons you might not be able to change a folder name on your PC.

  • Lack of permissions: Users need certain permissions to make changes to files, and for some, even administrator access.
  • Third-party app conflicts: Many third-party security applications and antiviruses have been found to conflict with the process and, in turn, lead to an error.
  • File open in another app: Another common reason for the problem is that the concerned file is open in another app.

Below are some of the variations of the error, as reported by users, and the possible causes:

  • Can’t rename folder Windows in use: This usually happens when some background processes are using the folder you are trying to rename.
  • Rename folder can’t find the specified file in Windows 10: This problem can occur due to your antivirus or its settings. Check your antivirus settings or consider switching to a different antivirus solution to fix it.
  • Can’t rename folder because it’s open in another program (Windows 10): This is another common problem with folders that can occur on Windows 10. However, you should be able to fix this issue with one of our solutions.
  • Can’t change folder name (OneDrive): Many users reported being unable to change the folder name in OneDrive, and the solutions here should work in this case as well.
  • Can’t change folder name sync pending: Encountered with OneDrive files, and modifying sync settings or moving the folder to somewhere else and then again transferring it to the same location might work.
  • Can’t change folder name in Outlook: Many reported being unable to change the name of the folder they created on Outlook. Though in most cases, the names were changed, the same was not reflected.
  • Can’t change folder name because file is open: This usually happens when you try to rename a file while it’s open in another software. Try closing it or go with the solutions in the next section.

What can I do if I can’t rename folders in Windows 10?

Before heading to the slightly complex solutions, try these quick tips:

  • If you recently shared the folder or a file in it using Outlook, first terminate the Outlook process and then try renaming the relevant folder/file.
  • Restarting the computer also worked for some users.

If these don’t work, head to the solutions listed next.

1. Change the Windows Defender settings

  1. Press Windows + I to open Settings and go to the Update & Security section.
  2. Select Windows Security from the left panel and in the right panel, click on Open Windows Security.
  3. Select the Virus & threat protection, and click on the Virus & threat protection settings.
  4. Scroll down and select Manage Controlled folder access.
  5. Set the Controlled folder access to Off.

Windows Defender is built-in antivirus software in Windows 10/11. However, sometimes, certain features of this tool can interfere with your system and cause problems like can’t change the folder name. Therefore, you might have to disable them to fix this problem.

Keep in mind that disabling this feature might make your system more vulnerable. If you don’t want to disable this feature, you might consider switching to one of the best third-party antivirus software in ESET NOD32.

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2. Make sure you have ownership of the folder

  1. Right-click the folder you want to gain access to and choose Properties.
  2. Navigate to the Security tab and click on the Advanced button.
    advanced can't change folder name
  3. Check the Owner section at the top and click Change.
    option can't change folder name
  4. Enter the desired username or group into the Enter the object name to select field.
  5. Click Check Names and OK.
    enter name can't change folder name
  6. Check Replace owner on subcontainers and objects and click OK to save the changes.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use

To do anything (rename, delete, move, etc.) with a folder in Windows, you need to have ownership of it. Else, you will always encounter the can’t change folder name error.

If you have just one User Account, ownership of most folders is automatically granted to you.

However, if there are more User Accounts on a single PC, users without administrator privileges may have problems managing folders.

Once you’ve got full ownership of the folder you want to rename, try to change its name once again. If it fails, move on to the solution below.

3. Disable Preview Pane in File Explorer

  1. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer.
  2. Now, head to the View tab, and click on Preview pane to disable it in case the feature is currently turned on.preview pane

A user pointed out that if a file is being viewed under the Preview pane, Windows might have trouble renaming it. So might want to disable the feature, just to be sure.

4. Use a registry tweak

  1. Press Windows + R, type regedit, and hit Enter.regedit
  2. Click on (don’t double-click) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  3. Go to Fileand select Load Hive.
    Can't rename folder Windows 8.1
  4. Find your SOFTWARE hive, name it differently, and load it.
  5. When the hive is loaded, open: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\your hive name\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderTypes
  6. Highlight Folder Types, right-click it, and choose Export.
  7. Choose a name and save.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  8. Go back to your hive name, and close it.
  9. Open the File Menu, click on Unload Hive, and select Yes.
  10. Close the Registry Editor.
  11. Find the registry file you’ve just exported and double-click it to import it back into the registry.
  12. Restart your PC.

After you’ve performed this, check whether you still can’t change the folder name. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, it’s best to ask someone more experienced for help.

5. Remove certain values from the registry

  1. Press Windows + R, enter regedit, and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
    regedit cant change folder name
  2. Navigate to the path below: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Folder\Descriptions
  3. Now, you need to delete the following keys: {2112AB0A-C86A-4ffe-A368-0DE96E47012E} {491E922F-5643-4af4-A7EB-4E7A138D8174} {7b0db17d-9cd2-4a93-9733-46cc89022e7c} {A302545D-DEFF-464b-ABE8-61C8648D939B} {A990AE9F-A03B-4e80-94BC-9912D7504104}

After removing these entries, the issue should be resolved, and you’ll be able to change the folder’s name without any problems. If you can’t find the keys mentioned in this solution, this solution can’t be applied to your PC.

6. Change your view settings

  1. Press the Windows key + E to open File Explorer and go to the directory containing the folder you’re trying to rename.
  2. Select the View tab.
    view cant change folder name
  3. Pick any view except for Small icons.

As you know, Windows allows you to change how you view your files. You can view your files as thumbnails, icons, or in a list. However, a glitch prevents you from renaming folders while using Small icons.

After changing your view, you should be able to rename the folders without too many issues. Remember that this is a workaround, so you’ll need to repeat it for every directory you want to remove.

7. Delete autorun.inf files

  1. Press the Windows + E key combination to open File Explorer and locate the directory you want to rename.
  2. Click the View tab. and check Hidden items.
    hidde cant change folder name
  3. Look for autorun.inf and remove it.

According to users, you can’t change a folder name because of the autorun.inf files. These files can interfere with your system and cause issues such as this one to appear.

Once you find and remove that file, the issue should be resolved, and you’ll be able to rename directories without any problems.

8. Make sure that your system is up to date

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings app and select Update & Security.
    update cant change folder name
  2. Click on the Check for updates button.
    check cant change folder name
  3. If any updates are available, they will be automatically downloaded and installed once you restart your PC.

After installing the latest updates, check if you still can’t rename the folder. As we already mentioned, not being able to rename folders can be a Windows 10 glitch and to fix it, it’s required that you update your system.

Windows 10 usually installs the latest updates automatically, but you might miss an update or two due to specific issues. If you are having trouble updating your Windows, you can look at our guide, which will help you solve them in no time.

9. Set your background to a static picture

  1. Right-click your desktop and choose Personalize from the menu.
    personalize cant change folder name
  2. Change your background from Slideshow to Picture.

Many users use the slideshow as their background, which can lead to issues like this.

If you can’t rename folders on your PC, try disabling the slideshow backgrounds. After doing that, the issue should be resolved.

How do I force a folder to rename?

If you can’t change the name of a folder because the file is in use by another program, you need to close the program and try to rename it again.

This is because Windows does not allow you to change the name of such a folder. However, if a bug causes the problem, you should be able to solve it with one of our solutions.

If you can’t change the name of a folder on Windows 10, it might be caused by a bug or some wrong settings on your PC. With the fixes in this guide, you should be able to fix the issue easily.

Alternatively, if you want a software tool that will get the job done for you, look at our list of the best file renaming software available.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below.

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