Can’t Delete a OneDrive File or Folder? Here’s What to Do


OneDrive is quite popular across Windows 10 users due to its ability to connect many devices and keep files in sync between them. However, it will occasionally run into issues and stop you from deleting files or folders.

If this happens to you, don't worry. Instead, let's explore all the solutions you can use to avoid filling your cloud storage with outdated or unnecessary files and folders.


1. Make Sure the File Is Closed First

It's possible you can't delete the file because a program is currently using it. Make sure you’ve closed the file on your device and ask other users in your network to close it. Also, check if you have shared the file with other people and stop sharing the file if you need to.

2. Check Your File and Folder's Permissions

If the folder was shared with you by someone else, you might not have the necessary permission to delete it from OneDrive. You can ask the admin to give you permission or ask to delete the file for you.


3. Try Deleting the File From Another Device

If you are the file’s admin or have the necessary permission but still can’t delete the file, you can try to delete it on a different device. Since all OneDrive files and folders are synced everywhere, you can delete a file from your phone or another laptop.

4. Rename or Move the File or Folder

This is an odd trick, but changing the file's name sometimes lets you delete an otherwise undeletable file. All you need to do is change the file’s name and try to delete it.

If this doesn't work, you can also try moving the file, which works for some people. Cut the file that you can’t delete, paste it outside of the OneDrive folder, and then try deleting it again.

5. Pause OneDrive Sync

If OneDrive is currently synching the folder, it will prevent you from deleting it while it works away. However, you can temporarily stop the sync and delete the file.


Follow these steps to stop OneDrive's sync and delete the folder:

  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon from the taskbar.
  2. Select Help & Settings.
  3. Click Pause syncing and select how long you'd like to pause it.
OneDrive menu in Windows 10

Wait a few moments after pausing OneDrive’s sync and try to delete the file. If you want to resume syncing after you've deleted the file, go to Help & Settings > Unpause sync.

6. Turn Off Files on Demand

OneDrive’s Files on Demand feature allows you to keep your files or folders in the cloud and access them from your devices without downloading them first. This is a great option if you want to save space on your HDD or SSD: however, it might prevent you from deleting a file. Here is how to turn it off:


  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon from the taskbar.
  2. Click Help & Settings > Settings.
  3. Select the Settings tab.
  4. Uncheck Save space and download files as you use them. If the option is already turned off, enable and disable it again.
  5. Click OK to save the changes.
OneDrive menu in Windows 10

Once you have successfully deleted the file, go through the steps again and re-enable Files on Demand.

7. Reset OneDrive

If you still can’t delete files from your OneDrive, you should reset it. Fortunately, resetting OneDrive will not remove any of your folders or files. However, it will disconnect all current sync connections, so you'll have to re-add the folders you want to sync.

Here is how to reset OneDrive:

  1. Open the OneDrive app.
  2. Click the three-dot menu from the top-right corner.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click Reset now from the bottom of the menu.

OneDrive in Windows 10

Delete OneDrive Files Once Again

If you have the appropriate permission and still can’t delete the file, you can try one of the unusual fixes and rename the file or cut and paste it outside OneDrive. If this didn’t fix your issue, you can reset the app or reconfigure its settings.



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