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Q&A: Why is my file locked for editing?

QI moved a file to another computer and Word says it’s locked for editing and won’t let me do anything with it!

AThere are a number of reasons this can happen, but a zip file might be the sneaky culprit.

Now that Windows can open a zipped file, you might not realize that’s what happened. Go back to the Windows file explorer and select “Extract All” from the pop-up menu when you right-click on the zip file.

a map "locator pin" styled as the MS Word logo
For more on “protecting” files, see Section 5 of the book.

Now be sure to open the file from the new folder of extracted files, and not from the zip source. In fact, delete the zip or move it somewhere you won’t try to get into it by mistake.

If the file still opens in protected view, you can click the button at the top that says “Enable Editing” and get to work!

The options that Windows users see at the top right of the Word document’s window.


Other reasons files won’t allow editing include password protection and that file being used by someone else or otherwise being “checked out” of a file management system.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

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