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Unable to rename a file in Windows 10? 8 ways to fix it

Does Windows not allow you to rename a file? Most Windows users encounter this problem at least once in a while, so you are not alone. In most cases, restricted folder access is the root of the problem. Yet, there are also times when malicious files, glitchy File Explorer, outdated Windows OS and even hidden malware are to blame.

If you’re having trouble renaming a file in a folder, we’ll discuss various fixes you can try.


1. First, eliminate a file-specific problem

Before undertaking a major fix, make sure the problem is not limited to a single file. You can confirm this by renaming another file in the same folder and seeing if the behavior is the same. If the problem persists with other files, try renaming them to a different folder.

Recurring problems in your files and folders may indicate that the problem lies with your operating system. Later, we will discuss a few fixes that will fix system-level issues. However, if the problem persists with a single file, restricted access is likely the cause. To eliminate this, follow the next step.

2. Make sure you have access to the file you are renaming

Since the administrator has access to all files and folders, you can skip this step if you are logged in using an administrator account on your computer.

However, if you are logged in with another user account and you see an error such as “You are currently not authorized to access this folder,” it is imperative that you confirm with the administrator that access to the folder is not restricted.

For restricted documents, the administrator can make the document available to everyone, or you can request that they grant you sole ownership or access to the folder. Once access is granted, you can rename the file as desired.

3. Make sure the file is not running in the background

When a file or folder is still open, Windows does not allow users to rename it. Therefore, you need to make sure that no files or folders are open and no apps are running in the background while you rename. To do this, simply click on the same file again to open it, and it will take you to the tab that is already open.

To determine if a process is running, you can look in Task Manager. Right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. Once you have located the program, right-click on it and click Final task.

4. Disable Encryption Game on File

A password-protected file or folder, especially if it is protected by a third-party application, can also be the cause of the problem in question. If so, you should temporarily disable the encryption or protection set and rename the file again. Once the encryption is removed, you should be able to rename the file as desired.

If you have an issue with multiple files in a folder persisting even after granting administrative access or disabling encryption, the following fix may help.

5. Delete malicious files in the folder

When we do not maintain good security hygiene, viruses can enter our systems and infect them. So, if you cannot rename multiple files in a particular folder, but files in another folder can be renamed, the folder may contain malicious files.

Generally, these files are hidden to prevent our eyes from finding them. To locate them quickly, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the folder containing the files you cannot rename.
  2. Go to the See tongue.
  3. Check the Hidden objects box.

If you find hidden files with unusual file extensions that you don’t know you created, you’ve definitely found the culprit. Permanently delete them from the folder and you’ll be good to go.

The .INF files, especially autorun.inf these are known to cause this problem, so keep an eye out for them. If, however, the problem persists across the entire operating system, the remaining fixes will surely help you.

6. Give Windows Explorer a Fresh Start

Windows Explorer, also known as File Explorer, provides users with a graphical interface to browse files and folders and make necessary changes to them, such as moving, copying, deleting, etc. A temporary glitch in File Explorer can also make renaming difficult.


Follow the steps below to restart File Explorer:

  1. Right click on Windows Begin button and click Task Manager.
  2. Right click on the Windows Explorer and click To restart.

Run a malware scan if this fix does not work.

7. Run a malware scan

Malware hidden in your system can also cause unforeseen problems. To make sure that it is not the culprit here, it is imperative to find traces of viruses and eliminate them once and for all.

Although there are different ways to run a malware scan, we recommend using the Microsoft Defender offline scan as it is an inbuilt tool, so there will be no charge additional.

Once the malware is removed and your computer is cleaned, you should update your operating system to repair any damage the virus may have caused.

8. Check Windows Updates

An outdated Windows operating system acts as a breeding ground for viruses that can cause problems we have never seen before. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that this is not the case here. Here are the steps you should follow to ensure your system is up to date and to repair any damage that viruses may have caused:


  1. Right-click on Windows Begin button and select Settings.
  2. Click on Update and security.
  3. In the left sidebar, click Windows Update.
  4. Click on Check for updates.

While running the check, Windows will search for available updates and install them automatically.

If this method fails, upload the document to a content management system, rename it, and upload it. If that doesn’t work either, you need to create a duplicate file, delete the original, and rename the duplicate file later. As a last resort, this fix will surely save you if all else fails.

Try other ways to rename files

Hope the above fixes will help you rename your files. Try renaming a file differently than what we usually do if none of these fixes worked.