[Solved] Cannot delete files, folders or icons in Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • Unable to delete files and folders from Windows is a common problem but you can fix this problem with a few easy steps in our guide below.
  • You can use specialized software to delete undeletable files from Windows. Here's a top with the best 5 of them.
  • We wrote extensively about error encountered in Windows 10 so check out our Windows 10 errors hub.
Cant delete files, folders or icons in windows 10

One of the problems users are noticing in Windows 10 is that they’re unable to delete some files or folders. And if you’re facing the same issue, we’ll show you a few solutions to this problem.

How can I delete files, folders or icons on Windows 10?

We frequently remove files from our PCs, but sometimes you won’t be able to remove certain files, folders or icons.

Delete files like an expert with these file deleting tools!

1. Reboot your system

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.

2. Use CCleaner

  1. 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
  2. To include files and folders in the cleaning process, you must select the Custom Files and Folders check the box on the CCleaner screen.
  3. 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



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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.

You can also try an antivirus from our great list!

3. Delete the file/folder using 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:usersJohnDoeDesktoptext.txt).

4. Change the Ownership of the file/folder

  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
  5. Enter the username you want to become the owner of the 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 the 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 a restart).
  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 hit OK.
    Can't delete folder open in another program
  12. Try to delete file/folder again.

Learn how to take ownership of a file or a folder from our comprehensive guide!

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.

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 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 and you can see a selection with the best of them in our guide.

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

7. Use Microsoft’s Troubleshooter

  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.

8. Use Safe Mode

  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. A 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 of files or folders from a specific directory.

Can’t boot into Safe Mode? Here are the best tips to solve this issue!

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.

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
    • 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.
  • Force delete folder windows 10
    • These solutions act by overwriting any protocols so that the data is forcefully deleted.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been since revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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  • I have faced this problem once upon a time but when knowing about the LongPathTool program, at that time I am using this tools and all problem solve. so my personal suggestion you can use the LongPathTool program

  • This routinely happens on my computer but fortunately I dual-boot Linux and Windows so deleting the offending files or folders in Linux is a piece of cake. Some Linux distros will live boot and allow working with the computers main drives and may be a solution for those that do not actually want to have a Linux distro installed.

  • The solution that I found has to do with options in Windows Media Player. I had the destination folder for ripping set to C:UsersLenDesktopfolder name. This is the folder that kept reappearing even after deletion. All I did was change the ripping destination folder to C:UsersLenDesktop (deleting the name), deleting the folder on the desktop, then empty the recycle bin.

  • All of this unfortunately didn’t work for me 🙁 I’m trying to delete all traces of Spotify even from my appdata directory so that I’ll be able to reinstall it since there has been a problem on my Windows 10 laptop in letting Spotify run. Nothing is working. Does anyone know how I’ll be able to completely delete Spotify off my laptop? I tried deleting it from Command Prompt, but my access was denied and it says “The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.” BUT IT ISN’T BEING USED ANYWHERE! I don’t understand. I’ve tried all of the tips on this website and all the other websites I can find. Nothing is working.

    • Figured I’d reply directly. This all wouldn’t work for me either but I found an application that finally did it. Posted above. gl.