The action cannot be completed because the file is open

Very often a dialog box appears on the screen and says “the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.” If you are getting this message on your Windows 10 and you are unable to access the file then don’t worry it is not a harmful problem and can be solved by referring to this step by step troubleshooting guide.

Why can’t I access my files?

This error message usually occurs when a program is using the same file that it wants to access at the same time. The program or the internal services of the computer restrict the user from accessing the same file because an internal process is already working on it. Therefore, to avoid any interference, the system restricts the user from temporarily using this file and changing its parameters. This interference can sometimes become permanent, and in that case, it must be resolved.

Fix “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program”

There are many solutions that can be tried to solve the problem in Windows 10. These are relatively simple solutions to this problem and any user will be able to solve it.

Method 1: check if the problem is temporary or permanent

Check whether the file is actually used by a genuine program or not. For ex. Anti-virus scanning of a particular file restricts the transfer of that file from one location to another until the completion of its scan. This is more of a temporary necessity. I would not suggest any workaround for this and I recommend that you wait until the operation on that file is finished.

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Method 2: end Windows Explorer and other processes

This is the best and 99% working solution for this problem. When Windows services are terminated, operations performed by internal programs are withdrawn. If the service is stopped in any way, a user can regain access to the file and use it in any way they want.

File Explorer processes cannot be terminated. These can only be restarted because Windows File Explorer is an organizing process that ensures moving, copying, deleting, and even opening a file as basic tasks can be accomplished. Therefore, restarting File Explorer frees the required file and allows the user to access it again. To end / stop processes:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc To start the Task Manager.
  2. I searched services / processes who may be using your program. Select them and click Finish homework .
  3. In the Processes tab of the Task Manager window, select Windows Explorer and click restart .

This will fix your problem temporarily or permanently. Once it’s fixed right away, try accessing your file or the process might start over automatically.

Method 3: use disk cleaning to clean thumbnails

Sometimes the problem “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” it is due to garbage present on the disk which is nothing more than cached data. These cached files, like thumbnails, are useless from an end-user perspective and are created on time. Thumbnails are a particular type of data that is found to create problems when accessing files. Therefore, thumbnail cleaning could fix this problem. To delete the thumbnails, follow these simple instructions below:

  1. Press the windows key and write disk cleaning and select Disk cleanup on the menu.
  2. In the drive selection window, select the system drive or C drive from the drop-down menu and tap To accept .
  3. Your computer now will scan the discs. This may take a while.
  4. After the scan is complete, from the list of options. Please select Miniatures and do click on To accept .
  5. Finally, Disk Cleanup will delete the selected files.
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After deleting the unnecessary thumbnail files, you will not face this problem again.

Method 4: turn off sharing for the particular folder

Sharing a folder with other users is one of the main suspects of this error. When the other user accesses the same folder, to avoid overlapping two different changes in a folder, the subsequent user cannot access that folder. To mitigate this problem, the key is to disable sharing for that particular file / folder. To perform this solution, follow the steps below:

  1. Find that file / folder generating this error message.
  2. Click with the right click on the tax file / directory and choose Share with> Stop sharing on the menu.

Stopping sharing of this file / folder will allow you to access next time without “Action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.”

Method 5: Empty the recycle bin and delete all temporary files

As discussed above, cache or junk or useless files is the main reason why this issue keeps flashing on the screen.
Therefore, deleting all these useless files will fix the problem. To empty the recycle bin:

  1. Right click on the Recycle Bin on the desk.
  2. Please select Empty the recycle bin of the list.
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To delete temporary files:

  1. Open Run looking for it and write “% Temp%” in the text field of the Run dialog box.
  2. Consequently, a folder will open that says «Temp» . Select all files in this folder with Shift + A and press Shift + Delete .

This will erase almost all the useless files on your PC and resolve the error message for good.

Last words

There are also other solutions to this problem, but these 5 are the most logical or successful. There is also a list of other solutions that are easy to do on our own. Finally, if this problem is resolved and you do not receive an “action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” error message, you’re welcome!

If you can’t resolve this issue and can’t / can’t follow the steps, keep me posted by writing in the comment section below.

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