Windows has one unpleasant feature that every experienced user regularly encounters: the system prohibits interacting with the file (deleting it, moving it, renaming it, etc.) if it is used by some other program. For example, Windows will not allow you to delete a video if it is open in the player – an error will appear with the message “The action cannot be performed because this file is open in …”. Sometimes it’s quite problematic to guess where the selected file is used – in such cases, the File Locksmith utility from PowerToys will be incredibly convenient.
💡 PowerToys is the official freeware for Windows 10 and 11 produced by Microsoft for advanced users and distributed via GitHub or Microsoft Store. It contains a lot of really interesting and useful features that for some reason are not in Windows itself. This article is published as part of a series of articles about PowerToys, in which readers get acquainted with the amusing features of the utility, which come in handy in daily use.
How it looks and works
The File Locksmith utility adds “What’s using this file?” to the right-click context menu. (“What processes are using this file?”), by clicking on it, the program will scan all the associated processes that it can access and display them in a separate window.
From the same window it will be possible not only to view them, but also to complete them. In addition, you can expand further details and see the ID of each process, username and file location.
What can be customized
Unlike most other utilities in PowerToys, File Locksmith has no settings – it only turns on and off. But it is worth noting that the program itself has a “Restart as administrator” button – it repeats the scan of related processes, but with privileged access.
This allows you to perform deeper searches – for example, track processes running under a different Windows account.
How to use the option
- Download PowerToys from release pages on github (the topmost .exe file) and install it.
- Run PowerToys as an administrator (by clicking the right mouse button and selecting the appropriate option).
- In the program at the top left, click on the “≡” button and select File Locksmith. Activate the “Enable File Locksmith” switch.
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