Deleting a Page Layout or Master Page that is no longer referenced

There is a fairly well known bug that prevents you from deleting both page layouts and master pages even though they are no longer in use. If you do try to delete either a page layout or master page you will receive the following error:

“This item cannot be deleted because it is still referenced by other pages. “

There is a workaround for this problem but it requires SharePoint designer. Here is my similar solution except that no SharePoint designer is required.

  1. Browse to the “Master Page Gallery”.
  2. Select “Actions” and “Open with Windows Explorer”
  3. Right click on the white area and select “New” > “Folder”
  4. Drag the page layout or master page into the new folder
  5. Right click on the new folder and select “Delete”
  6. Confirm the box


I'm a public speaker and the Chief SharePoint Architect for Eastridge, a Microsoft Gold Partner specializing in SharePoint and custom application development in Winston-Salem, NC. I focus on the SharePoint platform with a specialty in Information Architecture, Publishing and Best Practices.

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