Full Fix: Cannot Delete Files, Folders or Icons in Windows 10, 8.1 and 7

Ivan Jenic By: Ivan Jenic
8 minute read

Home » Full Fix: Cannot Delete Files, Folders or Icons in Windows 10, 8.1 and 7

Windows 10 Technical Preview is still unstable operating system, actually, it’s not even real operating system. And it could feature some errors and bugs.

One of the problems users are noticing is that they’re unable to delete some file or folder. And if you’re facing the same issue, we’ll show you a few solutions for this problem.

Can’t delete files, folders or icons on Windows 10? Here’s how to fix it

We remove files frequently from our PCs, but sometimes you won’t be able to remove certain file, folder or icon. This can be an annoying problem, and speaking of file removal, many Windows 10 users reported the following issues:

  • How to delete a folder that won’t delete – Sometimes you might encounter a folder that you’re unable to delete. This can be a big problem, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
  • Can’t delete folder in use – In some cases, you might get a message that the folder you’re trying to delete is in use. To fix the problem, you need to close all applications that might be using this directory. We covered a similar problem in our File in use error article, so be sure to check it out for more information.
  • Cannot delete file access denied – This error message can appear if you don’t have the necessary privileges to delete a certain file or folder. Simply change your security permissions and you’ll be able to delete the file.
  • Can’t delete folder open in another program – By default, Windows prevents you from deleting files that are currently used by other applications. To fix this error, make sure that other applications aren’t using that file.
  • Can’t delete files with long names – Windows can’t work well with files that exceed a certain character limit. If that’s the problem, the best solution is to rename the problematic file, and we explained how to do that in our The filename or extension is too long article, so be sure to check it out for more information.
  • Can’t delete files need permission – This is just a variation of this error, but in most cases, you can fix it simply by changing your security permissions.

Solution 1 – Reboot your system

As I said Windows 10 Technical Preview is still very unstable. And sometimes, all you need to do is to restart your machine and the problem will be gone.

Unresponsiveness doesn’t just happen in this case, for example, a lot of people reported that they’re unable to open the start menu sometimes, but when they restart their computer, everything works fine.

But if restarting your PC didn’t solve the problem, you can try one of the following solutions.


Solution 2 – Check your antivirus

Antivirus software is a necessity, and many antivirus tools have a useful feature that can protect your files. Thanks to this feature, malicious applications and users won’t be able to delete your files. Even though this feature is useful, it can also prevent you from removing certain files.

To fix this problem, you need to check your antivirus settings and see if this feature is enabled. If so, disable it for the files that you want to delete and check if that solves the issue. If you can’t find this feature, you can remove your antivirus and check if that helps.

If removing the antivirus solves the problem, you should consider switching to a different antivirus solution. There are many great tools available, but the best are the following:

All these tools offer great features, so be sure to try them out.


Solution 3 – Delete the file/folder with Command Prompt

You can also try to delete the file or folder with Command Prompt. Using Command Prompt for deletion is sometimes more efficient, and you definitely should give it a try. Here’s what you need to do to delete a certain file or folder with Command Prompt:

  1. Go to Search and type cmd. Open Command Prompt.
    Can't delete files need permission
  2. In the Command Prompt, enter del and location of folder or file you want to delete, and press Enter (for example del c:\users\JohnDoe\Desktop\text.txt).

Solution 4 – Change the ‘Ownership’ of the file/folder

Sometimes you can’t delete a certain file or folder because you don’t have appropriate permissions for it. In order to gain full permission of the file or folder, you need to change the ownership of the file and gain full control of it. Here’s what you should do to get the full control of a certain folder or file:

  1. Right click on the file you want to delete and choose Properties.
    Can't delete folder in use
  2. Under Security tab, click the Advanced button.
    Cannot delete file access denied
  3. The Advanced Security Settings window will appear, and you’ll spot Owner.
  4. In some cases, SYSTEM is listed as the owner, and in some it is TrustedInstaller, click on Change option, next to the name of Owner.
    How to delete a folder that won't delete

    • Note: Trustedinstaller is a Windows built-in account which removes and modifies updates and other Windows components. But you should be warned that if TrustedInstaller is listed as an owner of a certain file, you shouldn’t change it. Because if you rename or delete the file your system may become unstable even more, so change the ownership from TrustedInstaller only if you know what you’re doing.
  5. Enter the username you want to become the owner file, press Check Names to make sure if it’s okay, and press OK.
    Can't delete folder in use
  6. You’ll get back to the Advanced Security Settings window, but you’ll notice that name of the Owner has changed, and you’ll also notice a checkbox called Replace owner on subcontainers and objects, check that checkbox and click Apply.
  7. Close Windows Security Properties (Windows will require you to restart it).
  8. Open the Properties again, by right clicking on the file, Security and then Advanced.
  9. Under Permission tab, check Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object.
  10. After that, click Edit.
    Cannot delete file access denied
  11. In Permission Entry window check Full Control and click OK.
    Can't delete folder open in another program
  12. Try to delete file/folder again.

Solution 5 – Enable the hidden administrator account

If you can’t delete certain files, the problem might be the lack of security privileges. However, you can always try removing those files by using a hidden administrator account. Windows 10 comes with a hidden administrator account, and you can use it to fix various problems.

We already wrote about this account in the past, and if you need more information, be sure to check our article on how to enable hidden administrator account for more information.


Solution 6 – Remove AMD Uninstall Utility

Sometimes third-party applications can cause this problem to appear. If you can’t delete files or folders on your PC, the issue might be caused by AMD Uninstall Utility. To fix this problem, find this application on your PC and remove it.

There are several ways to do that, but the best way is to use an uninstaller software. These tools are specially designed for removing applications, and they will remove all files and registry entries associated with the desired application.

There are many great uninstaller tools, but the best ones are listed below and you can feel free to try any of them.

After completely removing the problematic application, the issue should be resolved and you’ll be able to delete files once again.


Solution 7 – Use Microsoft’s troubleshooter

Sometimes certain glitches with your system can appear and prevent you from removing files. If you can’t delete files on your PC, you might want to run this tool. This tool is created by Microsoft, so it’s completely safe to use. To use the troubleshooter, follow these steps:

  1. Download the troubleshooter.
  2. Start the troubleshooter and click Next.
    Can't delete files with long names
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the troubleshooting process.

After the troubleshooter is finished, check if the problem still persists.


Solution 8 – Use Safe Mode

If you can’t delete files or folders in Windows, you might want to try deleting them from Safe Mode. If you’re unfamiliar, Safe Mode is a special segment of Windows that runs with default drivers and settings, so it’s perfect for troubleshooting. To access Safe Mode, do the following:

  1. Open the Start Menu. Click the Power button, press and hold the Shift key and choose Restart from the menu.
    How to delete a folder that won't delete
  2. List of options will now appear. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings and click the Restart button.
  3. You should now see the list of options. Select any version of Safe Mode by pressing the appropriate keyboard key.

Once you enter Safe Mode, try to delete the problematic file or directory again. Keep in mind that this is just a workaround, but it can be useful if you need to remove just a couple files or folders from a specific directory.


Solution 9 – Use a dedicated tool we recommend

Sometimes you can’t delete files or folders because they are locked. There are many third-party applications that can help you with this problem and delete locked files. One tool that might help you with this problem is CCleaner.

CCleaner Professional can unlock and remove locked files from your PC. You can choose specific files, file types, and folders to be included in Cleaner operations.Delete files and folders with CCleaner

To include files and folders in the cleaning process, you must select the Custom Files and Folders check the box on the CCleaner screen.

You can then add separate Include statements (as many as necessary) by following these steps each time:

  • Click the Options icon from the left sidebar.
  • Hit the Include button.
  • Add a new include statement by clicking Add.
  • Complete details in the Include dialog box:

How to delet files and folders with CCleaner

If you have some alternate solution for this problem, and you’d like to share it with us, please write it down in the comments below, our readers would love to read it.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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