How to Delete Files That Can Not Be Deleted? [3 Solutions]

We frequently get message that the files/folders cannot be deleted on Windows 11 and Windows 10. 3 easy ways will be introduced to help us force delete the files/folders that cannot be deleted step-by-step.

How to Delete Files That Can Not Be Deleted on Windows 11

First of all, we should understand why the files or folders couldn’t be deleted and then we can figure out the solutions.

  • The files / folders may be using by some other programs or system;
  • The files / folders may be under protection by third-party program;
  • Your account is not allowed to edited the files / folders, with the error message of “Access denied”.

Solutions to Force Delete Files That Can Not Be Deleted on Windows 11

Solution 1: Close the programs running in background which are occupying the files.

  • Click Start Menu icon and search Task Manager and click on it;
  • Find the programs which are running under Processes;
  • Right click on the program and select End task;
  • Close Task Manager and locate the files you need to delete again and try to delete it.

Solution 2: Force delete files by running CMD

  • Search CMD in the Search box and Run as Administrator;
  • Enter del + file path such as del C:\Users\Frances\Desktop\invoice.pdf
Command Prompt
  • Press Enter to delete the specific files or folders

If you don’t know the file path, you can right click on it and click Copy as Path on Windows 11 to get it and then open the notepad to paste into it in order to delete the “”. Then you can copy and paste it to the cmd prompt.

Solution 3: Force delete the files / folders in Safe Mode

  • Click Settings by launching Start Menu;
  • Select Recovery under System;
  • Under Advanced startup, select Restart now; your computer will enter the recovery environment for security;
  • The computer will restart and you just need to click Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.

There are three options to enter the safe mode, and choose one according to your demands.

Press Number key 4 to Enable Safe Mode
Press Number key 5 to Enable Safe Mode with Networking
Press Number key 6 to Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

  • Locate the files or folders to delete it and then restart your computer to check whether they have been removed or not.

How to Boot Into Windows 11 Safe Mode will show you more options to boot Windows 11 into Safe Mode.

Other tiny tips on how to delete files that can not be deleted:

  • Restart Windows 11 and then try again;
  • Run Anti-malware or Anti-virus programs to scan and remove viruses;
  • Removing files in Recycle Bin to free up more space;
  • Make sure the files you need to delete is not read-only;
  • Many third-party programs will help you to remove the files;
  • Move the files and folders under protection tool to desktop.


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