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Can’t Delete File in Windows Vista or Windows 7 – Problem Solved!

by on Feb.23, 2011, under Office

Recently I’ve had some problems deleting .MOV and .ICO files from my desktop in Windows Vista. After months of frustration and searching the web for a solution to the problem, I’ve finally found it! Although this issue seems to be very well known in both Windows Vista and Windows 7, I was only able to find the correct answer after deep searching! So, I wanted to post it here for all others to see, in hopes that it will save you some pain in your life!

The Symptoms

A file in Windows Vista or Windows 7 cannot be deleted, renamed, opened, moved, and you cannot view the properties. When one of these options is executed on the file (or the folder the file resides in), Windows Explorer just hangs until the window is killed or until it crashes.

The Problem

The problem seems to be due to thumbnails believe it or not (I didn’t at first). Somehow, when Windows Explorer is trying to generate the thumbnails for the file, it locks the file and nothing can be done with it.

Solution 1 – Step-By-Step

  • From the Windows Desktop, click the Start button, and choose the “Control Panel” to open the Windows Control Panel.
  • From the Control Panel, choose the “Appearance and Personalization” Option and then choose the “Folder Options” option. This will open the “Folder Options” dialog.
  • On the Folder Options dialog, click on the “View” tab to select it.
  • From the View tab on the Folder Options dialog, make the following changes:
    1. 1. Check – “Always show icons, never thumbnails”
      2. Uncheck – “Display file icon on thumbnails”
      3. Uncheck – “Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items”
      4. Uncheck – “Show preview handlers in preview pane”
  • Once all of these settings have been made, click the Ok button to apply the changes and close the dialog.
  • Finally, restart Windows so that the changes have been applied to Windows Explorer. Once Windows has restarted, try to delete your file, it should work! But, if it does not, try the second set of steps below.

Solution 2 – Step-By-Step

  • From the Windows Desktop, click the Start button, and choose the “Control Panel” to open the Windows Control Panel.
  • From the Control Panel, choose the “System and Maintenance” option and then choose the “Indexing Options” option. This will open the “Indexing Options” dialog.
  • On the Indexing Options dialog, click on the “Advanced” button to open the “Advanced Options” dialog.
  • On the Advanced Options dialog, click the “Rebuild” button to rebuild all of the file indexes on the machine.
  • You will be warned that the operation will take a while (possible several hours), so go ahead and click “OK”. The index rebuild process will start, time will pass, and eventually it will complete. Close out all of the dialogs.
  • Finally, restart Windows so that the changes have been applied. Once Windows has restarted, try to delete your file, it should work!

Submitted By: Geoffrey Griffith – February 23, 2011


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