Can’t rename folders in Windows 10 [Fix]

By: Ivan Jenic
7 minute read

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There are some Windows problems that don’t look so serious at first, but can turn into a nightmare if there’s no solution. One of these problems is a bug in Windows 10 that prevents users from renaming folders.

According to various reports, this is an ongoing problem, that has been present in the previous versions of Windows, and remains an issue in Windows 10, as well. In case you’ve recently encountered this issue, and can’t rename a single folder in your computer, we’ve gathered a few possible solutions, that might be of some help.

What to do if you can’t rename folders in Windows 10

Not being able to rename folders can be a big issue for many users, and speaking of folder issues, here are some problems that users reported:

  • Can’t rename folder Windows 10 in use – Many users reported this error message on their PC. If that’s the case be sure to disable all background applications that might be using the folder you’re trying to rename.
  • Windows 10 rename folder can’t find the specified file – This problem can occur due to your antivirus or its settings. To fix it, check your antivirus settings or consider switching to a different antivirus solution.
  • 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 rename folder Windows 8.1, 7 – This problem can appear on older versions of Windows, such as Windows 8.1 and 7. Even if you don’t use Windows 10, you should know that most of our solutions can be applied to older versions of Windows.

Solution 1 – Make sure you have ownership of the folder

In order to do anything (rename, delete, move, etc.) with a folder in Windows 10, you need to have ownership of it. If you have just one User Account, ownership of the majority of folders is granted to you automatically. However, if there are more User Accounts on a single computer, users without administrator privileges may have problems managing folders.

In case you don’t know how to take ownership of a folder in Windows 10, check out these instructions:

  1. Right-click the folder you want to gain access to and choose Properties.
  2. When the Properties window opens, navigate to the Security tab. In the group or user name section you can see the list of users and groups on your computer that can access this folder.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
    Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file
  4. When Advanced Security Settings window opens check the Owner section at the top. Click Change in order to change the owner of the folder.
    Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10
  5. Enter the desired username or group into the Enter the object name to select field. Now click Check Names and OK.
    Can't rename folder Windows 8.1
  6. Check Replace owner on subcontainers and objects to change the owner for all subfolders in this folder.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  7. Click OK to save changes.

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


Solution 2 – Use registry tweak

This is a bit complicated solution, therefore it requires a certain amount of knowledge. So, if you’re not sure in what you’re doing, it’s best to ask someone more experienced for help.

For this solution, you’re going to need either one of these:

  • Your own registry backup (SOFTWARE hive) which is known to be before this issue started
  • The SOFTWARE hive from C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack
  • The SOFTWARE hive from Windows\System32\config from the installation dvd/usb install.wim

So, if you don’t have your registry backup, it’s best to use the SOFTWARE hive from the RegBack folder. Here’s exactly what you need to do:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit to open Registry Editor.
    Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10
  2. Click (don’t double-click) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  3. Now, go to File>Load Hive.
    Can't rename folder Windows 8.1
  4. Find your SOFTWARE hive, name it differently, and load it.
  5. Wen the hive is loaded, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\your hive name\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderTypes
  6. Highlight FolderTypes, right-click it, choose Export. Choose a name, and save.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  7. Go back to your hive name, and close it.
  8. Open the File Menu and click Unload Hive > Yes.
  9. Close the Registry Editor.
  10. Now, find the registry file you’ve just exported, double-click it to import it back to the registry.
  11. Restart your computer.

After you’ve performed this, try renaming your folder again. If you fail, check out this Reddit thread, where you have a more detailed explanation of the whole process.


Solution 3 – Remove certain values from the registry

According to users, sometimes certain registry entries can affect your system and make you unable to rename folders. This can be a big problem, and in order to fix the issue, you need to modify your registry and delete these entries. To do that, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. In the left pane, navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions key and expand it.
  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 rename folders without any issues. If you can’t find the keys mentioned in this solution, then this solution can’t be applied to your PC, so be sure to skip it.


Solution 4 – Change your view

As you know, Windows allows you to change the way you view your files. You can view your files as thumbnails, icons or in a list. However, it seems that there’s a glitch that prevents you from renaming folders while using Small icons.

This is a strange bug, and if you want to fix the issue, it’s advised to switch to a different view and check if that helps. To do that, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Open File Explorer and find the directory you’re trying to rename.
  2. Select View tab and now pick any view except for Small icons.
    Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file

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


Solution 5 – Change Windows Defender settings

Windows Defender is a built-in antivirus software in Windows 10, but sometimes certain features of this tool can interfere with your system, therefore you might have to disable them in order to fix this problem. To do that, just follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. When Settings app opens, go to Update & Security section.
    Can't rename folder Windows 7
  3. Select Windows Security from the left pane. In the right pane, click Open Windows Defender Security Center.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  4. Go to Virus & threat protection.
    Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file
  5. Now click Virus & threat protection settings.
    Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10
  6. Scroll down and select Manage Controlled folder access.
    Can't rename folder Windows 8.1
  7. Now set Controlled folder access to Off.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use

After doing that, the issue should be resolved and you’ll be able to rename directories as you wish. Keep in mind that disabling this feature might make your system more vulnerable.

If you don’t want to disable this feature, you might want to consider switching a third-party antivirus. There are many great antivirus tools on the market, but if you’re looking for a security solution that won’t interfere with your system, you might want to consider using Bullguard (free download).


Solution 6 – Delete autorun.inf files

According to users, sometimes you won’t be able to rename folders due to autorun.inf files. These files can interfere with your system and cause issues such as this one to appear. To fix the problem, it’s advised to find and remove autorun.inf files and check if that helps.

Removing these files is relatively simple, and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer and locate the directory you want to rename.
  2. Go to the View tab and check Hidden files.
    Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10
  3. After revealing the hidden files, look for autorun.inf and remove it.

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


Solution 7 – Make sure that your system is up to date

As we already mentioned, not being able to rename folders can be a Windows 10 glitch, and in order to fix it, it’s required that you update your system. Windows 10 usually installs the latest updates automatically, but due to certain issues you might miss an update or two.

However, you can always check for updates manually by doing the following:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Update & Security section.
  2. Now click Check for updates button and wait while Windows checks for available updates.

If any updates are available, they will be automatically downloaded and installed once you restart your PC. After installing the latest updates, check if the issue is still there.


Solution 8 – Set your background to a static picture

Many users use the slideshow as their background, but this can lead to issues such as this one. If you can’t rename folders on your PC, try disabling slideshow backgrounds. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click your desktop and choose Personalize from the menu.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  2. Change your background from Slideshow to Picture.
    Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file

After doing that, the issue should be resolved. Keep in mind that this is just a workaround, but it works according to users, so be sure to try it out.

That’s about it. In case you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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