How to Force Delete a File or Fold­er in Win­dows 10

Pankil Shah

For the most part, deleting files or folders on Windows is a pretty straightforward affair. But at times, Windows can prevent you from deleting files or folders either because it's currently being used or due to a lack of ownership rights of that file or folder. In such cases, despite your best efforts, you'll not be allowed to delete these files or folders as they'll be in a locked state.

How to Force Delete a Folder in Windows 10

Well, if you can’t seem to pinpoint a particular reason behind it and you’re dead set on removing that file/folder from your system, here are the best ways to force delete a file or folder on Windows 10.

1. Use Admin Account

On Windows, if you want to access, modify or delete a file and folder, you'll need the administrator's permission. Therefore, you’ll need to log in with an admin account on your Windows to force delete that file or folder from your PC.

2. Close File in Use

If some program is currently using the file or folder that you're trying to delete on Windows 10, then you'll get a 'File in Use' error. To remove that error, close the said program using the Task Manager. Also, if it's a background process that prevents removing the file or folder, you can use the built-in Windows Task Manager to stop that process. Here's how.

Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc key. In there, find the process or program that is using the file. Right-click on it and choose End task from the to close the program.

End task in Task Manager

Once closed, go ahead and see if you’re able to delete the file or folder.

3. Use Command Prompt

If you’re comfortable, you can also use the command prompt to force delete files or folders on your PC. Here’s how.

Step 1: Open File Explorer and fetch the file or folder which is not deleting. Select it and click on the Copy path option at the top to copy the location of the file/folder.

Copy Path in File Explorer

Step 2: Now open the Start menu, type in cmd, and click on Run as administrator on your right to open it with admin rights.

Open Command Prompt

Step 3: In the Command Prompt window enter the following command and press Enter to delete a file or folder.

del <FilePath>

Replace the <FilePath> in the above command with the path of the file or folder copied in Step 1.

Force Delete with Command Prompt

Remember, using del command will completely remove that file or folder. So, you won't find a recoverable copy of the same in the Recycle Bin.

4. Change File Ownership

If you’re trying to delete a file or folder created and owned by another user, you may have a hard time deleting that file or folder. Therefore, you need to get ownership of that file/folder first to delete or modify it. Read on to learn how to transfer the ownership of a file.

Step 1: Right-click on the file or folder and select Properties.

File Properties

Step 2: In the Properties windows, switch to the Security tab and click on Advanced.

File Security Settings

Step 3: In the following window, you’ll find the name of the owner at the top. Click on the Change button next to it.

Advanced Security of File

Step 4: In the Select User or Group window, enter your user name in the white box and click on OK.

Transfer Ownership of File

Close all the windows and try to see if you’re able to delete the file or folder now.

5. Use Safe Mode

If the methods mentioned above fails, your last option is to switch to the Safe Mode in Windows 10. Using the Safe Mode will restrict all third-party programs from hindering the deletion process and help delete the file easily. Here’s how to enter Safe Mode on Windows 10.

Step 1: Press Windows key + I to open Settings. Then select Update & Security.

Update Security in Settings

Step 2: Go to the Recovery section on your left and then click on the ‘Restart now’ button under ‘Advanced startup’ on your right.

Recovery Section

Step 3: Next, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings. Then click the Restart button.

Startup Settings

Step 4: After your computer restarts and the Startup Settings menu shows up, select any version of the Safe Mode by pressing the relevant key (4, 5, or 6) to enter Safe Mode.

Enter Safe Mode

Once you’re in the Safe Mode, go ahead and see if you can delete that file or folder.

Find the Force

Using the above methods will surely help you force delete any stubborn file or folder on Windows 10. Similarly, you can also force delete temporary files on Windows to free up valuable storage space on your PC.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Pankil Shah

Written By

Pankil Shah

Pankil is a Civil Engineer by profession who started his journey as a writer at EOTO.tech. He recently joined Guiding Tech as a freelance writer to cover how-tos, explainers, buying guides, tips and tricks for Android, iOS, Windows, and Web.