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I installed a barcode font for a project. The font was installed thru the Fonts control panel. Now I would like to remove the font from my system but when I try to delete it it gives me a warning about the font being in use.

I've shut down all running applications but I still get the error message. Does anyone know of a way to determine what program is using the font? Is there a way to force deletion of the font?

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Safe Mode and Unlocker didn't work for me, I did find a solution that did though, open font folder via UNC path:… – matt wilkie Mar 29 '11 at 18:53
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The best way to ensure that the font is not in use anymore is to try to remove it in Safe Mode.

You can get there by rebooting, pressing F8 before Windows boots and selecting it with the arrow keys...

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Even in Safe Mode, Windows claims my font is in use :/ What to do? – powerbuoy Aug 19 '14 at 18:19
@powerbuoy: Use Sysinternals Process Monitor and do a boot log, then look for your font name in that log; this should indicate which process opens the file, after which you can do attempts at avoiding that process from loading in Safe Mode with Sysinternals AutoRuns or so. – Tom Wijsman Sep 7 '14 at 14:41
@powerbuoy try Safe Mode Command Prompt mode, which is different from straight Safe Mode, courtesy of – matt wilkie Jan 4 at 19:15

Unlocker is a brilliant free little application that can help you determine which application has a lock on a file. It also allows you to release the lock, or if it's the Windows itself, delete it on next reboot.

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Unlocker is an awesome tool, but unfortunately does not work in the Fonts folder. – fitojb Oct 3 '12 at 5:14
@user2552310 says (in suggested edit) that this installs 3x bloatware, even after declining the installs. – Olli Feb 24 '14 at 16:39
Chrome won't even allow me to download this claiming it's "malicious" :/ – powerbuoy Aug 19 '14 at 18:18
Unlocker has a portable version that doesn't install anything at all. – krispy Jan 29 '15 at 5:04
While this solution works, I'd like to once again advise against it in favor of the accepted answer (Safe mode) or ending processes that hold a lock to the file. Forcefully removing file locks is extremely dangerous as you risk corrupting other locked files when the pointer is reset. – Paul Lammertsma Jan 29 '15 at 10:23

If you want to use Unlocker as suggested by another answer, you may find it doesn't work in the Fonts folder. However, there is still a way to do this, through the command line.

Just run the following command:

C:\Program Files\Unlocker>Unlocker.exe C:\Windows\Fonts\Oswald-Regular.otf

Obviously use the Unlocker.exe from the installed location, and replace the specific fonts name with the one you want to delete.

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10 second fix via elvated command prompt: Start > CMD > Run As Administrator:

del /f /s /q /a "C:\Windows\fonts\my-font.ttf"

That will force delete the file and that's it.

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Previously, I recommended Unlocker. A less invasive and more advanced technique involves using Process Explorer. In Process Explorer:

  1. Under the Find menu, select Find Handle or DLL... (or press Ctrl+F)
  2. Type the filename of the font you wish to delete (not the font name; if you're unsure about the name of the file, locate the font in your fonts directory and view the file properties).
  3. Kill any processes using the file.
    • If you killed explorer.exe, restart it by selecting Run... from the File menu (or press Ctrl+R) and entering explorer.exe.
  4. Delete the file from an Exlorer window or through the command prompt.

Incidentally, this goes for deleting any non-system file that is in use and cannot be deleted on Windows—not just fonts.

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I found another way to do this ... and it's actually Microsoft's Font utility which we are using to delete the font, it turns out, that is using the font we are trying to delete!

In the Fonts folder ... click Organize ... Layout ... uncheck Details pane

Now try and delete the font again, it should work.

That's Windows for you! :)

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I just deleted it from an elevated command prompt (i.e. run as administrator). then went back to the fonts folder and deleted one more time and it was gone.

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This worked for me, and it is very easy :

1- Use Unlocker just like Paul suggested

2- To delete the font, you can't use Unlocker in the fonts folder directly, the trick is to go a folder back (Windows Folder) and make a search for (*.ttf) the result will all the fonts of your system, but this time it is not in the "fonts folder", so you can use Unlocker, and delete what ever font you want, good luck

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