Many Windows 10 users get stuck with the ‘folder in use the action can’t be completed’ error which prevents them from accessing, moving or deleting a folder. The issue could be due to a problem with the File Explorer or a background application using the file. If you find yourself in such a situation, this article will take you through several ways to give you full control over your folders.
Fix Folder in Use Error
This error generally appears when you try to eject an external hard disk or USB from your computer by having a file opened from the disk. In certain other cases, you may also see this message when trying to access a folder on your computer. Depending on the situation, follow one of the below methods to fix the error.
Method 1. Restart Windows File Explorer
File explorer allows you to manage and organize files, folders and drives in your computer system. It enables you to copy, search, move, delete or rename files and folders in your Windows PC. Restarting the file explorer may help to resolve the ‘folder in use the action can’t be completed error’.
- Right click the task manager and select “Task Manager” from the context menu.
- Alternatively press the “Ctrl + Alt + Del” keys and open “Task Manager.”
- Find and right-click “File Explorer” under the “Processes” column.
- Select “Restart” from the menu options.
Method 2. Fixing Thumbnail Problems
Windows normally keeps a copy of folder thumbnails to allow quick access the next time you open the folder. Thumbnails could be blocking folder actions hence removing them might resolve the problem.
2.1. Run Disk Cleanup to Remove Thumbnails
Disk cleanup helps remove junk files that could be affecting the system performance.
- To run the utility, type ‘disk cleanup’ in Windows search and select “Disk Cleanup” from the results.
- Select the disk with the Windows installation and wait for the cleanup utility to scan for junk files.
- Once it returns the list of files to be removed, ensure that the “Thumbnails” box is checked and click “Ok”.
- Click “Delete” when prompted to confirm the action.
- This will remove the thumbnails and other specified junk files.
2.2. Disable Thumbnails in File Explorer Options
- Open the Windows file explorer and navigate to “View > Options > Change folder and search options”.
- Under the “View” tab, check the box against “Always show icons, never thumbnails” and click “Ok” to save the changes.
2.3. Turn off Thumbnails in System Settings
- Open the Windows file explorer, right-click “This PC” and select “Properties.”
- On the left pane of the system information window, click the “Advanced system settings” link.
- Go to the “Advanced tab and click the “Settings” button in the “Performance” section.
- This will open the “Performance Options” settings. Under “Visual Effects”, uncheck the box for “Show thumbnails instead of icons” and click “Ok” to apply the settings.
2.4. Turn off the Caching of Thumbnail in Group Policy
- Press the “Win + R” keys to open the Run dialog. Type ‘go edit.max’ and click the “Ok” button.
- On the Local Group Policy Editor, navigate to “User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer” folder.
- Double click the “Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files” on the list.
- By default, the policy is not configured. Click the “Enable” radio button and the “Ok” to apply the changes.
Method 3. Launch Folder Windows in a Separate Process
The file explorer is set to open Windows in a single process and allowing the file browser to open in a separate process may fix the ‘action cannot be complete as the folder is in use by another program’ issue.
- Go to the “File Explorer > View > Options > Change folder and search options.”
- Open the “View” tab and scroll down the “Advanced settings” list.
- Click to check the box for “Launch folder Windows in separate process” and then click “Ok” to save the changes.
Method 4. Empty Recycle Bin and Temporary File Folder
- To clear the recycle bin, right-click the “Recycle bin” icon on your desktop and select “Empty Recycle Bin” on the resulting menu.
- To empty remove the temporary files, press the “Win + R” keys, type ‘%temp%’ on the Run dialog box and click “Ok”.
- Select all the content of the temporary files folder and press “Shift + Del” keys to delete.
Method 5. Close Applications and Restart Your PC
Restarting the computer closes all running applications in the background and also clears all the cache as well as temporary files.
- Close all the applications that are currently not in use and check whether the error will disappear.
- If you still see the same error, click the Windows start button, expand the power options and select “Restart” option.
- Wait for the computer to power off and reboot.
Method 6. Managing the Folder Sharing Option
Folder sharing allows users to access the content from their own device over a network. However, sharing folders could be the reason behind the ‘File in use…’ error and managing the folder sharing options might resolve the problem.
6.1. Turn off Folder Sharing
If the folder giving you this error is shared with other users, you can resolve the problem by restricting sharing.
- Right-click the folder and on the context menu, hover the mouse over the “Give access to” option.
- From the expanded menu, click “Remove access” to stop sharing the file.
- Now you should be able to move, delete or rename the folder without the error.
6.2. Adjust the Shared Folder Simultaneous Access Settings
It is possible that you are trying to perform an action on a folder that is being accessed by another user at the same time. In this case you need to change the sharing settings to allow simultaneous access.
- Right-click the folder and select “Properties” at the bottom of the menu list.
- Go to the “Sharing” tab and click the “Advanced Sharing” button.
- Check the number indicated next to the “Limit the number of simultaneous users to” label.
- Click the up-facing arrow to increase the number of users allowed to use the folder simultaneously.
- Click “Ok” to save the settings and try to perform the action on the folder.
One of the common issues that you may encounter when using a Windows 10 PC is the ‘Folder In Use The action can’t be completed’ error. Generally the error occurs when you try to copy, rename or delete a folder. This can be frustrating since you cannot organize your folders freely. Fortunately, this is not a major system problem and you can apply the above solutions to fix the error.