Microsoft Windows locks the files and folders when in use and stops the user from modifying it or opening another instance of it to prevent data corruption. If you try to delete, move or rename a locked file you will get an error message “open in another program”. This basically means that you have to close the program that is using the file before you can make any changes to it.
For example, if you inserted a USB flash drive into your PC and are browsing pics from it. Alternatively, say, you have a opened a picture from your USB drive in Adobe Photoshop.
Now if you try to eject the USB flash drive directly without even closing the photoshop program that is currently using one picture from your USB Drive, you might end up with open in another program error message.
The full error message looks like this:
"Folder in use The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in an another program. Close the folder and try again".
This happens because Windows has locked the file from being deleted or modified when being used by another program.
To fix this, you need to unlock the file or close the program that is using the file or the folder and then modify it.
How to Fix it?
In the above-shown example, you just have to save the picture and close Adobe Photoshop (program) to unlock the file or device to fix this problem.
However, at times you may not be able to find which program is using the file as you may not be able to find any running programs on your PC. This mostly happens with USB devices.
This is because at times a program may have finished using it, but did not unlock it making Windows think that the file is currently in use resulting in open another program error message.
A solution for this is to find which background task is using the file, unlock it and get rid of open in another program error.
There are a couple of methods to fix folder in use error in Windows 10. I have listed the easiest one first so that you don’t have to install third-party tools to fix this error.
However, do not hesitate to use the mentioned third-party unlocker tools in case other methods don’t fix it.
Fix 1: Restart Your PC
In most of the cases restarting your PC can fixe “The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in an another program. Close the folder and try again” error in Windows.
When you restart your PC, any background process or running program is force shut down. It also unlocks any locked files or folders in use. So, the easiest way to fix “the action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in an another program. Close the folder and try again” error is to restart your PC.
Fix 2: Open Task Manager
Windows PC comes with a handy little tool called Task Manager. Even though the task manager may not be an as sophisticated tool as of IObit Unlocker or Process Explorer, but it can do basic things without any fuss.
- Open the Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and then select Task Manager from the option.
- Go to the Process tab.
- In the Process tab, look for any process or program that you think could be causing the problem.
For example, if you have closed Adobe Photoshop program, and if it is still running as a background process, then right-click on it and select “End task“.
Fix 3: IObit Unlocker
IObit Unlocker is a free utility and is the most recommended unlocker utility as well. It is better to try IObit Unlocker first as it involves less work than Process Explorer. Upon the installation, you can find the file unlock option in the context menu itself.
Now the first thing you should do is install IObit Unlocker. It is just a 2.33 MB file. Once downloaded, run the IObit Unlocker.
After the installation, just go the folder or file you want to unlock.
Right-click on the file or folder and select “IObit Unlocker“. It will open the Folder or File in IObit Unlocker. You can view the status of the file or folder to see if it is locked or unlocked.
If it is locked, then click on Unlock button and you are done. You also have “Forced Mode” option. Using this option kills the program or process which is preventing the file from being unlocked.
Fix 4: Use Process Explorer
Process Explorer a freeware tool available for Windows users. It is one of the best process explorers that allows you to view which program has a particular file or directory open.
Here is how to use process explorer to fix “The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in an another program. Close the folder and try again” error in Windows.
Process Explorer is a portable app, so you don’t have to install it. Get Process Explorer and download it. You need to extract the Zip file and run the Process Explorer .exe file.
Also read: Exe file open in Notepad error
Now click “File” and select “Show Details for All Process“.
Next, click “Find” and select “Find Handle of DLL“.
Now in the search box, you have to type the name of the file or folder that is giving you the error. Type the name and hit enter or click “Search“.
Just below the search box, right-click on the Handle and select “Close Handle” option (Refer image below).
Now do this for all the process in case there are multiple threads. Once the file is unlocked or closed, try to modify the file and see if the error is resolved.