How to fix The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program?

by Olivia Morelli - -
12

Question

Issue: How to fix The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program?

Hello, I have an issue with a PDF file that cannot be opened nor deleted. I try to delete them from the particular folder, and the window named File In Use appears with “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” message. But all the possible programs are closed. I even tried to restart the PC and delete them before opening anything. It repeats all the time. I can rename them, and do other things, but not delete or move the file or the whole folder. Help?!

Solved Answer

“The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” is the message that appears as an error in Windows Explorer, and in most cases, it means that people have the particular file opened and in use with a specific program. However, users complain about the error window that occurs out of nowhere and when any application does not open the file.[1]

The whole issue with this “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” error is not posing any danger, it is rather annoying and frustrating for the user. The message gives no particular information what causes the disturbance, and even when you close the programs, the error still frustrates. 

In general, the error should appear when the program or Windows system uses the file you want to rename, delete, or move.[2] But “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” when the error occurs even though the folder or file is not locked it may be the symptom of another PC issue regarding more severe problems with your device."The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program" error fixComputer errors as “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” can occur sooner or later after some particular damage on the machine. It mainly happens with Microsoft Office files and PDF files and, there is no particular version of Windows that is not getting the pop-up. There are a few reasons why you can get the error: the error is caused by Windows Explorer or the file is actively used by the background running program that possibly can be malicious.[3]

How to fix “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program”

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If you struggle with finding how to fix “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” error, you should learn about possible reasons and causes. If the PDF or image file is the one that cannot be moved, the issue might be with a feature of Windows Explorer. Any glitch in the program can create issues with handling the folder or file. There is a solution for that – disabling file previews, for example. Also, we can recommend running a check on the system before doing anything else. Some files and program may be related to malware, so scan the machine with Reimage first to make sure that malware is not involved.

Turn off File previews in Windows Explorer to fix “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program”

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  • Open the Run dialog box and type Control folders. Press Enter.
  • File Explorer Options appears on the screen.
  • Go to View tab and then find Advanced settings to make sure that the box Always show icons, never thumbnails is enabled is checked.
    Control folders
  • Select Apply to save these changes and check if the file can be handled without the error.

Finding and closing the program tat leaves the particular file open and causes the error

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“The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” error that causes the struggle can be caused by a particular process. With Resource Monitor, you can locate what triggers the error and close it down completely.

  • Open the same Run dialog box and type resmon.exe. Press Enter to open the Resource Monitor tool.
  • Navigate to the CPU tab once it opens and then scroll down to Associated Handles.
  • Type the name of a particular file and investigate processes that use the file.
  • Right-click on the process and choose End process.
    Ending the process
  • Repeat if needed and check if the error “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” appears again.

Restart the File Explorer

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage Reimage.
  • Find the File Explorer, previously known as Windows Explorer and restart the program entirely to fix the issue with “The action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program” error.
    End the process directly

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About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - PC & Mac repair expert

Olivia Morelli is a young, but a perspicacious IT expert who is currently just a year away from a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Systems. Her primary passion is cyber security, however, thanks to her detailed understanding of computer networks, operating systems and hardware, she can find a fix for any PC or Mac issue...

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