Fix: The Action Cannot Be Completed Because The File is Open in Another Program


Stuck on the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program? It’s understandable that this error can be frustrating. That’s why we’ve compiled all the possible fixes that should help you fix this error. Dig deeper into file-related errors and take appropriate measures with the File Explorer Guides. 

Often, the error action cannot be completed because the file is open in system occurs because some application or background process is using the manipulated file or folder. If this is the case, it is sufficient to find the application or background process using the file or to restart your computer.the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program

It is possible for some problems to recur even after rebooting the computer. This is especially true if none of the above solutions works.

By use of the top 6 methods, you can certainly solve this action cannot be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program. 

Fix: The Action Can’t Be Completed Because The Folder Or A File In It Is Open In Another Program

Top 6 Methods to Fix The Action Cannot Be Completed Because The File Is Open In Another Program

Here are the top 6 methods to solve the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.

Method 1: Restart Window Explorer

In File Explorer, you can search, inspect, and change the files stored on your computer. We suspect that there could be a problem in how it operates, which results in an inability to manipulate files and restart window explorer.

In order to resolve the issue, we have to restart it via Task Manager. This process is short and does not require much time to complete. Here are the steps:

  1. Right-click on the Start button option and open Task Manager.task manager
  2. In the Processes tab, scroll down to the list where you find Windows Explorer.
  3. Right-click on that and select explorer restart
  4. Moreover, you should wait for a couple of seconds until it completes the process.

This is a simple solution to follow, but it is likely a temporary solution. Follow up on the next methods if you are not getting solutions.

Also See: Windows Can’t Find One Of The Files In This Theme | Fix It Now!

Method 2: Empty Recycle Bin

There are some reports that clearing your recycle bin can resolve the issue. Simply right-click on the Recycle Bin on the desktop, select Empty Recycle Bin from the pop-up menu, and empty it. If prompted, confirm the action and see the error message resolved.empty recycle bin

In addition to its effectiveness, it is only a temporary fix, so you should try other solutions below once you’ve managed to resolve the issue once and for all. 

Method 3: Find and Terminate the Associated Process

The error that the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program indicates that there are some files running behind, and it disaffirms to close itself.

We will use Resource Monitor instead of the traditional Task Manager since it provides much better tools for finding and lifting stuck processes. Follow these steps to detect and lift stuck processes.

  1. Press Windows + R button, type “resmon.exe” in the field, and press enter to open it up.resmon
  2. After Resource Monitor is open, go to the CPU tab space and expand the Associated Handles at the bottom.associated handles
  3. Search for the name of problematic files or folders and wait until the Resource Monitor finds all processes related to it.
  4. Then, right-click on the files that are not closing and select End-process.end process resource monitor

This method probably is helpful in “this action can’t be completed because the file is open in system.”

Method 4: Clean Up Thumbnails

Windows uses thumbnails to provide faster access to files by storing them in cache copies, which means you don’t have to wait for icons of images, videos, or documents to load since your system has already memorized them.

This is due to research that suggests thumbnails can cause compatibility issues with the file system and lead to editing issues. By default, thumbnails will create automatically by default, but you can disable this functionality later in this guide. Let’s delete thumbnails now. Follow the below steps. There are two methods to accomplish it.

Using Disk Clean Up

  1. Open This PC.
  2. Right-click on your and choose Properties.
  3. Find and click Disk Cleanupdisk cleanup
  4. Among the list of checkboxes that appears, select the Thumbnails and click Ok to remove them.thumbnail delete
  5. After doing this, the error is that the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.

Using Command Prompt

  1. In the start menu, search for the Command Prompt, click that, and run as Administrator.command prompt as admin
  2. Make sure you have your main PC disk selected. If not Selected, enter its letter (“C:”) manually and press Enter.
  3. Then, copy and paste the following del /ash /s thumbs. db and press Enter again.
  4. Wait until the process deletes the thumbnail database, close the window, and check if the problem with files persists.

Method 5: Disable Thumbnails

If deleting thumbnails helped and you’d like to stop their creation completely, then there is a way to do it. That would be a good thing to try, even if none of the previous options worked for you. There is a process of steps and methods you should try removing. 

By Using File Explorer Settings in Your Computer

  1. Open the file explorer and click View on the very top window.file explorer
  2. From the drop-down menu, select the options Button.
  3. In the System opened window, go to View, scroll down a little, and you will find and select Always show icons, and also select never thumbnails under Files and Folders options.always show icons
  4. And Click on Apply and Press OK to save the respective changes.

Using Performance Options

  1. Open the computer, go to your disks, and right-click on any empty space below your drives.
  2. Select Properties and go to Advanced system settings.system properties
  3. Under Performance, click Settings.
  4. From the appeared list of options, find and uncheck the option named Show thumbnails instead of thumbnails instead of icons_
  5. Click on Apply and press OK to save the respective changes.

Using Registry Editor

This is one of the methods that can solve the action cannot be completed because the file is open in another program.

  1. Press Windows Key + R buttons and type regedit into the field.regedit
  2. Open it up and confirm the UAC window.
  3. Then, open this path HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced on the left pane.icon only
  4. After reaching the Advanced folder, you will see the list of entries on the right pane.
  5. We need to find IconsOnly and double-click on it.
  6. At last, Change its value to 1 and click the OK button to disable thumbnails. If you want to enable them back, simply type 0 instead of 1.value changing

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Method 6: Disable Preview Panel

According to data collected from forums, some users were able to fix the “this action cannot be completed because the file is open” message by turning off Preview mode. It is possible to view the content of certain files prior to accessing them using this option offered by Windows. It is simple to do and will not interfere with the performance of your system in any way. By disabling this feature, you could help improve system performance on slower PCs by eliminating the need to process and preview content inside the OS.

  1. As we already did, open This PC and click View on the very top of the window.
  2. Click on the Preview pane to disable or enable it. The enable option will be in blue in the background, so make sure it is disabledpreview pane
  3. After this, check whether you have the same issue with modifying a file.


How do you fix the action can't be completed because the file is open in windows explorer?

You can try many methods to overcome this error that including; emptying your recycle bin, cleaning up thumbnails and etc.

How do I restart Explorer EXE?

On your keyboard, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc simultaneously to open the Task Manager. And then, click on the File menu and then choose 'Run new task.' Type 'explorer.exe' into the run box and hit 'OK' to relaunch Windows Explorer.

See Also: FIX: The Application Unable To Start Correctly (0xc0000005)


In conclusion, Here are the top 4 methods which are highly effective in fixing the action that cannot be completed because the file is open in another program or action cannot be completed because the file is open in the system. You can choose any of the methods above, and each method has different procedures, which have explanations in detail.