How to open a word document as read-only

How to open a word document as read-only

To make updates to a file or change its name, the file cannot be read-only. To modify a read-only file, follow the suggestions below to disable that feature and allow it to be edited.

Close all other programs

When a program opens a file, it may lock the file or set the file as read-only. Verify that more than one program is not using the same file by closing all other open programs and windows and then saving the file again.

Remove the read-only attribute

Some read-only files can be changed to allow for edits by removing the read-only attribute in the file properties.

  1. Right-click the file and select Properties.
  2. Uncheck the box for Read-only and click OK.

How to open a word document as read-only

  1. If the Read-only attribute is removed, the file should now be editable.
  • How to view and change the file attributes in Windows.

Save a new copy of the file

Sometimes a file is set as read-only due to a hidden setting and not because of a read-only attribute. You can save a new copy of the file to remove the read-only setting on the file.

  1. Open the read-only file.
  2. Use the Save or Save As option in the software program used to view the file to save a new copy of the file. Make sure to save the new copy of the file as a different file name than the original.
  3. Close the read-only file, then open the new copy of the file and try modifying and saving the contents of the file.

Corrupt file

If the above suggestions do not work, the file you’re trying to edit may be corrupted, preventing the option to modify it. Try rebooting the computer and re-opening the file to make sure another program has not locked the file. If the file still doesn’t open, the file would need to be restored from a backup, re-downloaded, or re-created by the original writer to fix this issue.

You may find that when you are opening files, they open as read-only. In some cases, this is for added security, such as when you are opening files from the internet, and other times, it can be due to a setting that can be changed. Here are some scenarios where a file opens read-only and some steps you can take to change that.

My antivirus is causing them to open read-only

Some antivirus programs may protect you from potentially unsafe files by opening them read-only. You may need to check with your antivirus provider to learn how to adjust these settings. BitDefender, for example, has content on adding application exclusions here: How to add application or process exclusions in Bitdefender Control Center.

Are the file properties set to read-only?

You can check the file properties by right-clicking on the file and choosing Properties. If the Read-only attribute is checked, you can uncheck it and click OK.

How to open a word document as read-only

The content is in protected view

Files from the Internet and from other potentially unsafe locations can contain viruses, worms, or other kinds of malware that can harm your computer. This is also commonly the case with email attachments or files you’ve downloaded. To help protect your computer, files from these potentially unsafe locations are opened in Protected View. By using Protected View, you can read a file and see its contents while reducing the risks. For more information on Protected view and how to change settings, see this article: What is Protected View?

Is OneDrive full?

If the file is stored on OneDrive and your OneDrive storage space is full, you will be unable to save the document until you are under your allotted space. You can check your free space on OneDrive by clicking the OneDrive icon in the notification center and choosing Manage storage, or you can go to, sign in, and note the amount of used space in the lower left of the screen.

Is Office activated?

If Office is not activated, or if your subscription has expired, you could be in read-only Reduced Functionality Mode. For information on how to Activate Office, see: Unlicensed Product and activation errors in Office.

If all else fails.

Try restarting the computer

Install Office updates

Perform an Online repair of Office

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Definition of a read-only file and why some files use the attribute

How to open a word document as read-only

Tim Fisher has more than 30 years’ of professional technology experience. He’s been writing about tech for more than two decades and serves as the VP and General Manager of Lifewire.

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A read-only file is any file with the read-only file attribute turned on. It can be opened and viewed like any other file but writing to it (saving changes) won’t be possible. In other words, the file can only be read from, not written to.

A file that’s marked as read-only usually implies that the file shouldn’t be altered or that great caution should be taken before making changes to it.

Other things besides files can also be read-only like particularly configured flash drives and other solid state storage devices like SD cards. Certain areas of your computer memory may also be set as read-only.

How to open a word document as read-only

What Types of Files Are Usually Read-Only?

Aside from the rare situation where you, or someone else, has manually set a read-only flag on a file, most of these types of files you’ll find are important ones that your operating system needs to start properly or, when changed or removed, might cause your computer to crash.

Some files that are read-only by default in Windows include bootmgr, hiberfil.sys, pagefile.sys, and swapfile.sys, and that’s just in the root directory! A number of files in the C:\Windows\ folder and its subfolders are read-only by default.

In older versions of Windows, some common ones include boot.ini, io.sys, and msdos.sys.

Most Windows files that are read-only are also usually marked as hidden files.

How Do You Make Changes to a Read-Only File?

Read-only files may be read-only on a file level or a folder level, meaning there might be two ways to handle editing a read-only file depending on what level it’s been marked as read-only.

If just one file has a read-only attribute, the best way to edit it is to uncheck the read-only attribute in the file’s properties (to toggle it off) and then make changes to it. Then, once the editing is done, re-enable the attribute.

How to open a word document as read-only

However, if a folder is marked as read-only, it usually means all the files in the folder are read-only as well. The difference in this and a file-based attribute is that you must make a change to the folder’s permissions as a whole to edit the file, not just the single file.

In this scenario, you may not want to change the read-only attribute for a collection of files only to edit one or two. To edit this type of read-only file, you’d want to edit the file in a folder that does allow editing, and then move the newly created file into the original file’s folder, overwriting the original.

For example, a common location for read-only files is C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc, which stores the hosts file. Instead of editing and saving the hosts file directly back to the “etc” folder, which isn’t permitted, you have to do all the work elsewhere, like on the Desktop, and then copy it back over.

Specifically, in the case of the hosts file, it would go like this:

Copy hosts from the etc folder to the Desktop.

Make the changes to the hosts file that’s on the Desktop.

Copy the hosts file on the Desktop to the etc folder.

Confirm the file overwrite.

Editing read-only files work this way because you’re not actually editing the same file, you’re making a new one and replacing the old one.