Can’t rename folders in Windows 10 [Full Fix]

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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Affiliate Disclosure

  • Many users reported that they can’t rename folders in Windows 10.
  • This is an ongoing issue, that has been present in the previous versions of Windows, and remains an issue in Windows 10, as well.
  • Check out our Windows 10 Hub for more helpful guides created and recommended by our experts.
  • Take a look at our Fix section for tech tutorials, as well as various tips and tricks. 
How to fix Cannot rename folders in Windows 10

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.

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.

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 – 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 – Even if you don’t use Windows 10, you should know that most of our solutions can be applied to older versions of Windows.

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

1. Change the Windows Defender settings

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

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.

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 Vipre Antivirus Plus.

This antivirus software is a next generation security solution that is designed to be fast, stay out of the way, and keep your digital life safe.

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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.
    Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file
  3. Check the Owner section at the top, and click Change.
    Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10
  4. Enter the desired username or group into the Enter the object name to select field.
  5. Click Check Names and OK.
    Can't rename folder Windows 8.1
  6. Check Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.
    Can't rename folder Windows 10 in use
  7. Click OK to save changes.

In order to do anything (rename, delete, move, etc.) with a folder in Windows 10, you need to have the 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 PC, users without administrator privileges may have problems managing folders.

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.

3. Use registry tweak

  1. Press Windows Key + R, and enter regedit to open Registry Editor.
  2. Click (don’t double-click) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  3. Go to File, and select 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\Folder\Types
  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, double-click it to import it back to the registry.
  12. Restart your PC.

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 installationdvd/usb install.wim

After you’ve performed this, try renaming your folder again. If you’re not sure in what you’re doing, it’s best to ask someone more experienced for help.

Can’t access the Registry Editor? Check out this guide.

4. Remove certain values from the registry

  1. Press Windows Key + R, and enter regedit to open Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions
  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.

5. Change your view

Windows 10 rename folder can't find the specified file

  1. Open File Explorer and find the directory you’re trying to rename.
  2. Select the View tab and pick any view except for Small icons.

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.

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.

6. Delete autorun.inf files

Can't rename folder because it's open in another program Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer and locate the directory you want to rename.
  2. Go to the the View tab, and check Hidden files.
  3. Look for autorun.inf and remove it.

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.

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

7. Make sure that your system is up to date

  1. Open the Settings app and go to the Update & Security section.
  2. Click on the Check for updates button.
  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 the issue is still there.

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.

If you are having trouble updating your Windows, you can take a look at our guide that will help you solve them in no time.

8. Set your background to a static picture

  1. Right-click your desktop and choose Personalize from the menu.
  2. Change your background from Slideshow to 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 the slideshow backgrounds. After doing that, the issue should be resolved.

After these steps in order, you should be able to rename your files without any problems.

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

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 June 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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  • Thank you sir!
    Solution number 4 worked for me.
    By changing my view i am now able to change the name of the folder.
    When my folder view was “small icon” i was not able to change any folder name in the specific drives only.
    I changed view to “list” view from “small icon” view and it worked for me.