I have about 190 Adobe PDF files that contain Cisco CCNA Labs. I have the files in a folder on my desktop called "CCNA Labs". For some reason, I can rename the files without any issues, but as soon as I try to delete any of the files in this directory I get the following error in Windows Explorer

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The thing is, I do not have any of these files open in Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat is closed, and the executable is not running when I look at my process viewer. I have checked the permissions on the folder containing the PDF Documents

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Anyone have any idea why I keep getting this error in Windows 10 when I try to delete these PDF documents that I can rename but not delete due to the "file is open in another program" error?

3 Answers 3


To find and close the process that has the file open, do this:

  1. Open resource monitor (Windows +R to open Run then type Resmon.exe)
  2. Open the CPU tab in the monitor
  3. Select all processes (not sure if this is needed, you can probably just search for the handle)
  4. Expand "associated handles"
  5. Search for the file you need
  6. Close the process that has the handle

Answer stolen from here https://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/comments/2dvbva/the_action_cant_be_completed_because_the_folder/cjtmywc

  • I didn't know this could be done using Windows alone. However, doing this always requires administrative privileges. It is possible to search for handles using Process Explorer or Prcoess Hacker instead. (CTRL+F button combination.)
    – user477799
    Feb 19, 2017 at 10:32
  • 1
    Just checked and no, you don't need to select all processes in the CPU tab (step 3)
    – doubleDown
    Dec 22, 2018 at 4:50
  • At least in Windows 10 there are other ways to open the Resource Monitor (Step 1). One can simply press the Windows key and search "Resource Monitor". If Admin privileges is required, one can press "Run as Administrator" Nov 2, 2020 at 15:08

It turns out that I could not delete the PDFs because they were open - in the file preview window in Windows Explorer! Turn off file previews in Windows Explorer if you run into this issue with PDFs that you cannot delete.

  • This happens not only when trying to delete a file but also when trying to rename a file. Feb 3, 2020 at 12:06

I'm no expert, but I have found that the message occurs when I have a mapped folder where the file or folder that I wanted to rename was within the mapped one. I disconnected the mapped folder and was able to rename, delete or move the files normally, then I remapped the same folder. It worked!


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