On a networked computer, I have a file which is coming up as read-only because someone else has it open. This is not true. This is a file stored locally on the computer and it is not being used by anyone else.

I can login to the same computer using a different user, and the file opens up fine. I just get the issue with a particular user account.

Other than deleting that account/profile and creating it again, how can I unlock this file?

Double clicking on this file gives me a message saying

The file is locked for editing by another user, or the file (or the folder in which it is located,) is marked as read-only, or you specified that you wanted to open this file read-only.

I don't think the folder is locked, because I can use other files in that folder fine, it's just 1 particular file which is causing this issue. I know that only 1 user is using this file as the file is on his c: and the same file works fine if he logs off to allow another user to log in.

  • What is the actual process where you're observing this behavior and what is the actual error message you're receiving? – Der Hochstapler Jul 2 '12 at 11:17
  • @OliverSalzburg , I've added further details above. – oshirowanen Jul 2 '12 at 11:36

You need to run a utility that tells you what is locking the file. Try running the utility here:


It should tell you what has locked the file. Kill that application (if it is possible) to get the file back. There are plenty of alternatives if that application isn't quite right for some reason.

If this fails to say, generally rebooting the PC and trying to access the file straight away will normally work.

If even this fails, it is likely that the disk itself has a problem. In that case, I recommend the use of Spinrite though I'm afraid it isn't free - it is, however, undoubtedly the best disk utility around, it will find and correct errors on disks that are otherwise unusable. You can also run it occasionally to help prevent disk issues.


This doesn't sound like file locking to me. Many applications do not use shared-mode when opening a file, so if the file is open elsewhere (whether or not it is locked), the application will open it as read-only. If the application supports shared-mode, then it can be open in read-write at both locations.

  • I agree. MS Office products (-Outlook), for one, are the only program I know of that reports of a file being "locked for editing" (with other programs/Windows reporting of "access denied"), but am not sure the mechanism used to keep track of who has the file open for editing. A corruption in this system could presumably cause this message. – user66001 Aug 11 '13 at 22:47

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