Unlocking the Files Locked in Mystery in Windows 7

Locked files are annoying, especially those locked in mystery as to no reason why they are locked and what has been holding them off. You often ended up closing all your opened applications and rebooting your computer to clean up the locked handle so that you can deal with them.


There are a few reasons why your file may have been caught in locked position. For one, the file might be opened by another user on the same network because the file is part of the shared folder on your computer. And another, the file may be opened and locked by an application that is still actively alive in the background even though it’s been closed by the user.

To unlock a file locked by a remote user

Note that if your computer doesn’t have a shared folder that is accessible to the remote user, you won’t be able to unlock a file by this method.

1. Open Computer Management, by right-clicking My Computer icon and choosing Manage.


2. Expand Shared Folders, and click on Open Files at the left hand panel in Computer Management.


3. Then on the right side panel, find the file that is opened by a remote user, right-click on it and choose Close.

4. After then, you will be able to deal with that file that was locked before.

To unlock a file locked  by an application

I called it locked in mystery because often times you found there is no reason the file you wanted to deal with is in the locked mode and you certainly don’t seem which application was holding it up.

If you know the name of the application that had been used to open the file before, you may want to check the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) to see if the application that you had closed is still alive in the processes tab. If so, manually killing it in Task Manager would release the lock handle so that you will be able to deal with the file again.

However, in a lot of cases, you might not have idea of which application you should be looking or the file still remains in locked even after you manually terminated the application described above. If that’s the case, it’s time to call up a help for the 3rd party tool. Among many of them out there, Unlocker and EMCO UnLock IT might be the most popular ones.

Unlocker is my favorite which I have been using for years. I am always quite happy with the output from this extremely tiny effective tool. But EMCO UnLock IT looks like having a lot more features to offer. To my opinion, it doesn’t really matter which one you should be using because simply both of them do the unlocking job quick nicely and efficiently.

Related posts:

  1. Windows 8.1 Quick Tip: The Quickest Way to Fix Application Non-Response Problem
  2. How To Run As Test User in Windows
  3. UndoClose to Easily Re-open Last Closed Folders and Programs
  4. Smart PC Locker Pro Completely Locks Your PC With Task Manager Disabled
  5. How to Enable Multiple Concurrent User in Remote Desktop Windows 7
  • http://samthammel.de Samthammel

    I think an easy way to look for locked file handles is by using “Process Explorer” from Microsoft:

    I already use it as an task manager replacement. So you start it (By CTRL-SHIFT-ESC), get admin rights and do a CTRL-F for the locked file name. There you can close this file handle by force without killing the hole application.

  • Tytrate

    I have had problems with file be lock.  It turned out that the file were set to read-only because Carbonite had them queued for backup.  Normally not a problem, unless you have a large number of files pending backup and the locked file is at the end of the queue.

    In the case of Carbonite:

    1.  disable (not pause) Carbonite
    2.  perform operation on the file
    3.  enable Carbonite



  • mfp2waoe

    Can someone translate this to English?

  • http://ricardozea.me/ Ricardo Zea

    Carbonite was locking my files left and right, with EMCO UnLock IT I was able to unlock them. Carbonite SO sucks. Thanks for the info Kent.