How to Force Delete Stubborn Files in Windows 11

Xiaobai Software  2022-07-26 17: 44  read 45 views

When you delete a file on a Windows computer, Windows usually does all the heavy lifting.However, in rare cases, users are sometimes unable to delete stubborn files with the usual methods.

Do you have a file on your computer that you can't delete with File Explorer's standard delete options?If so, you may be able to force delete the file using the methods in this guide.


Why can't I delete a stubborn file?

When files are used by programs, Windows locks them.A file in a locked state cannot be deleted.This kind of file locking is the most common reason why users cannot delete files.

Even if you don't have any software open on the taskbar, there may be a background program running that is still using a file.Or Windows may not have fully finished unlocking a file.In this case, you may see a file in use message pop up when you try to delete it.

There may be other potential reasons why you cannot delete a file.The file you are trying to delete may be infected with a virus or corrupted in some way.There may even be a problem with your hard drive or recycle bin.However, this "unable to delete" file is rare.

How to delete stubborn files with hotkeys

If you're having trouble with your Recycle Bin, Windows 11's Shift+Del hotkey might force delete a stubborn file.Pressing the Shift+Del key combination will usually delete a file without going to the Recycle Bin.So this keyboard shortcut might be worth a try when other deletion methods don't work.

As an added bonus, try closing background programs and applications before choosing to delete files with this hotkey.Close any software windows (except File Explorer) on the taskbar.Then enter the task manager and disable redundant program services, such as this:

1. Open the Power User menu by right-clicking Start and selecting Task Manager.

2. Click Processes in Task Manager to view this tab.

3. Select the background process of the third-party program, and click End Task.


4. Also, check if your system tray includes any program icons.Right-click the icons of any extra programs there and choose to close them.


5. Then select the file that you cannot delete in Explorer and press Shift + Del hotkey.

How to Delete Stubborn Files in Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a special troubleshooting mode that enables users to start Windows with only minimal essential drivers and startup items.Stubborn files that you can't delete are less likely to be locked (in use) in Safe Mode since the mode disables many redundant background programs.So, you might delete a stubborn file with any regular deletion method in safe mode.

You can choose to boot into Safe Mode from the Advanced Boot Options menu.From there, selecting "Startup Settings" and "Restart" brings up a menu with different Safe Mode options.Pressing the 4 key will select the Enable Safe Mode option.

When you're in safe mode, bring up the directory containing the stubborn files.Then select the files you want to delete and press the Trash (Delete) button of Explorer.Hopefully that normal file deletion option will work in safe mode.

how to useForceDeleteDelete stubborn files

ForceDeleteis a third-party program that provides a solution to delete undeletable locked files in Windows 11.The software enables users to force delete locked files by dragging and dropping them into the "Drop Files Here" area in their window.Here's how to use it:

1. OpenForceDeletedownload page.

2. Click the "Download ForceDelete Now" button.

3. Bring up your browser's downloads folder in the file manager.

4. Double-click the forcedelete.exe file to bring up the ForceDelete installation window.

5. Select Next in the installation wizard.

6. If you prefer to choose an installation directory, click the Browse option.Choose where you want to install ForceDelete and click the "OK" button.


7. Continue to press "Next" to reach the installation options.

8. Press the Install option to start the ForceDelete installation.

9. Now, open the software by clicking on the desktop shortcut of ForceDelete.If you can't find a shortcut to it, type ForceDelete into Windows 11's search tool to find and launch the app.

10. The Delete files checkbox in the ForceDelete window should be checked by default.However, if it is not selected, click the checkbox to select it.


11. Open any folder that contains stubborn files that you cannot delete.

12. Left-click on the file you want to delete and hold down the mouse button.Then drag the file from File Explorer into the black circle in the ForceDelete window and release the mouse button to drag it in.

13. When asked to confirm that you are sure you want to delete the file, select Yes.

You'll notice that the ForceDelete window has some additional options.The Close Process checkbox, when selected, terminates background programs that are using the file.You can keep these processes running and delete files by unchecking this option.

The Permanently Shred Files (Unrecoverable) checkbox is another interesting ForceDelete option.Selecting this setting permanently deletes files.This option means that deleted files cannot be recovered even with the best data recovery software enabled.

You can also choose to force delete files from the context menu of the explorer.Right-click the stubborn file you want to delete in File Explorer, select Show More Options (for viewing the classic context menu).Select the Force Delete option there to delete the file.Alternatively, you can choose to unlock the locked file in use via the ForceDelete unlock option.


Eliminate stubborn files by force deletion

Whenever you encounter a stubborn file in Windows 11 that appears to be "undeletable", try these force-removal methods to remove it.At least one of them might get rid of this stubborn file once and for all.


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