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How to handle Windows 'file in use' errors

It happens more often than we'd like: we try to move or delete a file in Windows, and get a "file in use" error. Our options had been limited to serious detective work, rebooting or just shrugging our shoulders and trying again the next time we remembered. The free app Opened Files View gives us a new, better option: tracking down and zapping applications using our files.

If you've ever faced down a "file in use" error in Windows, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with routine computer maintenance.

All you want to do is delete or move or edit a file, and you just can't unless you're willing to ferret out the offending application or reboot and hope for the best. Opened Files View is a free app that targets this problem and solves it quite well. Here's how to use it: 

  1. Head over to this page, scroll way down, and download the installer. Make sure you get the x64 version if you use a 64-bit processor (check your system information if you don't know). 
  2. If you're using the x64 version, you'll need to turn on driver signing test mode (which the program will do automatically) and then reboot. 
  3. Scan the list for the file or files you're concerned with. 
    Step 3: Scan file list.
    Step 3: Scan file list.
  4. Once you find the file, just right-click it and select "Kill Processes of Selected Files." Warning: If you're not sure what process you're about to kill, you may want to do a little research or just reboot, as killing some processes can have adverse effects on your computer. At the very least, you may want to set up a restore point.
    Step 4: Kill process.
    Step 4: Kill process.
     

That's it. Your files should now be available for whatever you need to do.

Thanks to How-To Geek for the tip!