Deleting files or folders in Windows 10 is something we do all the time. Regular file deleting simply requires you to right-click on the item and select the Delete option from the context menu, or after selecting the file, press the Delete key on your keyboard directly.

You can also permanently delete a file or folder using the Shift + Delete keys combination. But some files or folders are so stubborn that you can't delete them no matter what you do, only get the error message "Cannot delete [filename]: Access is denied".

There are many reasons why a file or folder cannot be deleted. For example, the file or folder is in use by a program and you cannot delete it until the program using the file is closed. Or the folder is read-only, the disk on which the files are stored is write-protected, the Recycle Bin is full, and so on. Whatever the reason, if you are sure that the file or folder is useless, you can try the following four methods to force delete folders or files on Windows 11/10/8/7.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Force delete folder in CMD If you can't regularly delete some folders or files, you can apply the DEL command in CMD...Full steps
Fix 2. Force delete folder with software Using force delete folder software to learn files that can't be deleted is a useful and simple way...Full steps
Fix 3. Delete files with ownership  To delete files or folders on Windows, you need to have user ownership. Gain or change the ownership...Full steps
Fix 4. Force delete a folder or file in Safe Mode In Safe Mode, problematic applications or features won't start, you can delete folders...Full steps

1. Force Delete Folder Windows 10 Using Del Command in CMD

Windows' Command Prompt can be used to perform advanced operations, including forcing delete folders or files, whether or not a program is using them. If you're a computer expert, Command Prompt is a great disk and file management tool for you.

Here's how to force delete a folder on Windows 10.

Step 1. Press Win + E to open File Explorer. Find the file or folder that is to be deleted. Copy the location of the file or folder.

copy file location

Step 2. Click the Search button and type in cmd. Click on "Run as administrator" on the right panel to open it with admin rights.

run cmd as administrator

Step 3. Type the following command and press Enter.

del (FilePath)

e.g. del D:\Pictures. Replace the FilePath with the file or folder address copied in Step 1.

use del in cmd to force delete files

Step 4. Type Y for "Are you sure (Y/N)?" and press Enter. Then, the folder will be deleted fast.

The DEL command will permanently delete a folder or file bypass the Recycle Bin on your Windows PC, and you can't restore it unless using a professional file recovery tool.

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Folders or Files on Windows 10/11

You may permanently lose files by accidental deletion/formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, or OS crash. In any case, you can use EaseUS data recovery software to retrieve lost or deleted files safely and efficiently.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is one of the top-notch data recovery software that you can use to recover lost and deleted files stored on HDD, SSD, SD card, USB flash drive, pen drive, and many more devices without hassle.

What's more, it's also good at repairing corrupted files after data recovery. You can repair corrupted videos (MOV/MP4/GIF), photos(JPEG/JPG/BMP/PNG), and documents (DOC/DOCX/XLS/XLSX) effortlessly.

Now, free download this reliable file recovery program to restore more than 1000 kinds of files like video, audio, documents, graphics, emails, and other files.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
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Step 1. Select the location to scan

Choose the specific device and drive where you have permanently deleted files using Shift delete or emptying recycle bin. Then, click the "Search for Lost Data" button to find lost files.

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Check the results

The software will automatically start scanning all over the selected drive. When the scan completes, select the deleted or lost folders in the left panel using the "Path" feature. Then, apply the "Filter" feature or use the search box to quickly find the deleted files.

scan permanently deleted files

Step 3. Recover deleted files

Select the deleted files and click "Preview". Next, click "Recover" to save them to another secure location or device. You can choose a cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, etc., and click "Save" to save your recovered files.

select files and click recover

2. Use a File Shredder Tool to Force Delete a Folder or File

Another useful way to remove folders or files that cannot be deleted is using a simple file shredder. EaseUS LockMyFile is an easy-to-use file management tool that can help you delete and shred files or folders from your computer completely with its File Shredder feature.

Step 1. Download and launch EaseUS LockMyFile.

Step 2. Click "File Shredder" under More Tools, click "Add Files, Add Folders, or Add drive" to select files, folders, or a disk that you need to shred.

Step 3. Confirm the files, folder, or drive that you need to shred, click "Safe Delete" or "Disk Wiper" to shred the selected items.

force delete folder software

These are for removing unwanted folders or files. The software is best known for file/folder protection, including file encryption, file locking, file hiding, and so on. If you need maximum protection for your important data, try this tool.

3. Force Delete Folders Windows 10 by Changing File Ownership

To delete a file or folder, you need to have ownership of that folder/file. If you are trying to remove folders created by another user, learn how to get ownership on Windows 11/10/8 with the steps below.

Step 1. Go to Windows File Explorer and find the file/folder you need to delete. Right-click it and select "Properties".

Take ownership of file or folder.

Step 2. Click "Security" > "Advanced" as shown in the screenshot below.

Fix 'You'll need to provide administrator permission to copy files or folder' error.

Step 3. To change a user or a group that already existed: click "Change", choose the target user account, and click "OK" to save changes.

Change a user.

If you want to change the ownership to a user or group that does not exist: Click "Change" > "Object Types...", and type the name of the user or group under "Enter the object name to select", then click "Check Names" > "OK".

Change owner to take a ownership of target files or folders.

Step 4. If you want to change the owner of all sub-containers and objects, tick the "Replace owner on sub-containers and objects" box.

Change subcontainers to fix 'access denied' issue.

Then, try again to see if you can delete folders or files that cannot be deleted.

Gain ownership to force delete folder on Windows 7:

Step 1. Right-click the target folder or file and choose "Properties".

Step 2. Click the "Security" >"Advanced". 

take the ownership in windows 7

Step 3. Click the "Owner" > "Edit" to change the owner.

edit the ownership in windows 7

Step 4. Click "Other users or groups" to choose the user manually.

choose other users groups

Step 5. Follow the on-screen instructions to change the ownership like the above Step 3 on Windows 10.

4. Force Delete a Folder or File Using Safe Mode

If the above methods failed, you still have the last chance to force delete folders on Windows 10 or Windows 11 in Safe Mode. In safe mode, most applications will not start, so there is a very simple environment to delete a file/folder.

Step 1. Click the Windows button and choose "Power". Hold the "shift" key and click "Restart".

how to boot into Safe Mode from start - 2

Step 2. Click the "Troubleshoot" > "Advanced options".

how to boot into Safe Mode from start - 3

Step 3. Click "Startup Settings" on the following screen. Then, click "Restart".

how to boot into Safe Mode from start - click restart

Step 4. From the startup settings, choose one way to enable Safe Mode as listed in numbers 4, 5, and the Windows 10 Safe Mode according to your needs

Then, your Windows computer will start in Safe Mode. You can try to delete folders or files again. 

Concluding Words and FAQs 

We covered these four working solutions to help you force delete a folder or file in Windows 10 or Windows 11. Other quick tips you can try to remove an undeletable folder or folder are checking your antivirus, which protects your files from being deleted, rebooting your system, uninstalling some third-party applications, and more.

Before performing force delete, make sure that the data you are going to clear is the target folder or file. If an error occurs, stop using your computer or external device and use EaseUS data recovery software to retrieve your data immediately.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

More Force Delete Folder FAQs

1. How to force delete folder Windows 10 open in another program?

To overcome the File in Use error when deleting folders, you can:

  • Close the program via the Task Manager
  • Restart your computer
  • Force delete folder using CMD
  • Force delete folder with software

2. Force delete folder software

Try the following two force delete folder software on Windows 10/8/7

  • EaseUS LockMyFile: its File Shredder feature allows you to completely delete folders, files, or even wipe the whole disk
  • EaseUS Partition Master Free: its Wipe Data feature enables you to clean partition data permanently

3. How to force delete folder Windows 10 PowerShell

Step 1. Search for PowerShell and run it as administrator.

Step 2. In the Command Prompt window, type remove-item D:\Pictures and hit Enter key.

Tip: Replace D:\Pictures with the location of the file or folder you need to delete.

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Updated by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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Approved by Evan Galasso

Evan Galasso is a digital forensics and data recovery engineer with over 10 years of experience in the field. He presents opinions on the current state of storage media, reverse engineering of storage systems and firmware, and electro-mechanical systems of SSDs and HDDs.

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