How to Open a Steel Filing Cabinet

Will Charpentier

Opening a steel filing cabinet is usually accomplished with a single hand. There are times when opening a steel filing cabinet is difficult or even impossible. If the filing cabinet is difficult to open, it may mean that the cabinet or the drawer has been damaged somehow. If a steel filing cabinet is impossible to open, that may be the result of some kind of severe damage to the cabinet, or it may simply mean that the cabinet has been locked. If the cabinet is not locked or damaged, using a good technique makes opening the cabinet easier.

  1. Grasp the handle of the drawer your wish to open with your right hand. Using the right hand to open the drawer puts your hand in a position to manipulate the drawer release, if one is present.

  2. Note whether or not there is a metal tab protruding from the face of the drawer to the left of the drawer handle. It may appear to be a button, a knob or even rectangular in shape. This is the drawer release. While continuing to hold the handle with your right hand, move the ball of your right thumb to that tab and use your thumb to pull that tab toward the handle of the drawer.

  3. Pull the handle of the filing cabinet toward you. If the drawer does not open, then pull the handle with your right hand while moving the tab toward the handle with your left hand. If the drawer still does not open, the file cabinet may be locked or the drawer release mechanism may be broken.

  4. Tip

    Even if you are left-handed, practice using the right hand to open steel filing cabinets. To open steel filing cabinets with your left hand, you must turn your left hand over, with the palm facing up.


    Take care not to accidentally pull filing cabinet drawers out of the filing cabinet by pulling them too far. Filing cabinet drawers are heavy enough to cause injuries if they fall onto your feet.