TFS Unlock Exclusive Checkout

I’ve been using TFS for the project I have been working on these past few months. I have to say that after using SVN that I’m not loving TFS, although to be fair we’re mainly using TFS much like source safe, i.e. as a repository without making much use of the work items etc.

The main thing I don’t like about it is it gets in your way. When working with SVN as the repo you work completely disconnected, make your changes then submit them when you are ready…it’s only then that you have to interact with SVN. TFS on the other hand still has this old school idea of checking items out which means every time you change a file you have to interact with TFS, usually not a problem but gets annoying when the repo regularly takes 5-10 seconds to peform the checkout.

The Problem

So today I discovered a feature in TFS that I like – removing a lock on an exclusively checked out file.

You know the issue, you want to work on a file but your colleague has the file checked out exclusively and you get the error, blah.cs – File is exclusively checked out by another user.

Then he can’t check it in because then he’d have to check in everything else and it’s not working right now…and he can’t undo the checkout because there are many changes…blah blah blah.

The Solution

Well I assumed that TFS would be like SourceSafe and these were really the only options but NO! TFS provides a neat little third option…unlock!


The guy who has the file exclusively checked out has to do the unlocking of course but all he has to do is right click on the file in solution explorer, click unlock and voila….you can now also check out the file. Too easy!

Of course you have to have multiple checkouts turned on on the TFS server, seriously though, if you do not have multiple checkouts turned on…..WHY???

  1. Mark,

    If you have the Team Foundtaion Power Tools you can unlock files when on the results of a search in Source Control.
    Also there’s an option to undo pending changes from the command line.
    All this would only work if you have permissions.

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