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When trying to delete a word ~*.tmp file I get the message it is locked, although the document it belongs to is already closed. I look it up in Process Explorer and close the handle. There are no references found anymore. Still I get the message it is locked and can't delete it. When exiting Word the file is deleted automatically.

How can I delete Word temporary files without closing Word?

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There's a free utility for that™ I've used for several years called Unlocker. It will also tell you what has a lock on the file and optionally delete it for you.

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Looking at the screenshot and the comparison table I doubt if this utility will do a better job then Process Explorer or handle.exe both from sysinternals (MS nowadays). The problem is that a handle is visible at first and can be closed but the file is kept open in some intricate way. – Victor Onrust Feb 27 '11 at 19:23
@Victor Onrust: Besides unlocking files, Unlocker will optionally delete the file for you. If nothing else has worked, you might as well give it a try. – martineau Mar 6 '11 at 6:52

Most probably that's bug in Word 2010. It should close that temporary file after closing original file. However, there might be for example undo history in that tmp file, in case you open original file again without closing Word. In that case, it's useful feature (if you save regularly and accidentally close file, you can reopen and have history preserved).

Why you have to delete that file before Word exits?

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Why you have to delete that file before Word exits? If you are editing numerous files in one directory at a time and one in another and you want to move that directory after closing that instance of Word, you don't want to close all the other instances. – Victor Onrust Feb 27 '11 at 19:26

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