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Word 2007: Document goes to ‘read-only’ for no reason

July 14, 2010

I’m not sure how widespread this problem is, but I’ve seen it a few times, and one of my work colleagues gets it regularly:

  • You’re happily working in a Word 2007 document, saving as you go, when all of a sudden you can’t save as you get a message that the document is set to ‘read-only’
  • You save and close a Word 2007 document, re-open it, work on it, try to save it again but get the ‘read-only’ message.

The workaround I’ve used to date has been to do a ‘save as’ and save the document with a slightly different file name.

However, after my colleague said that she’s getting the message all the time on a specific document, it was time for me to go off to Google and check if anyone else gets this and how they solved it.

Here are some possible solutions I found:

  • Turn off Allow Background Saves. There may be a conflict with when you do a manual save and the automatic save (Microsoft Office button > Word Options > Advanced > Save subsection).
  • Turn off AutoRecover (Microsoft Office button > Word Options > Save > Save AutoRecover information every xx minutes).
  • Check the General Options settings for the document (Microsoft Office button > Save As > Tools drop-down [to the immediate left of the Save button] > General Options > clear the Read-only Recommended check box if it’s checked — no, I had NO idea this option existed either!). Click the individual screen shots below to see these steps in full size.
  • Reboot your computer and immediately check your Temp and Templates folders for lurking temporary files not deleted properly (don’t open any Office applications until after you’ve done this — your Temp folder should be empty after a fresh reboot). Your Temp folder is located here: C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Local\ Temp. Also check in C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\ Microsoft\Templates to make sure that there are no temp files there too. Temp files are easy to spot — they have a tilde (~) in front of the file name and have a tmp file extension.
  • Try saving to your My Documents folder (if you normally save to a network location or some other folder) to see if this makes any difference.
  • Make sure the document you have open is not sitting inside a Zip file.
  • Check Windows Explorer and make sure you don’t have the document open in Preview Pane view as this will lock it (in Vista, open Windows Explorer and go to Organize > Layout > Preview pane).
  • Make sure the document you are trying to save is not an Outlook attachment that’s still open in Outlook.
  • Set your anti-virus software to not scan Office 2007 files. Personally, I’d try this one as a last resort; also, in some corporate environments, you may not be able to change your AV settings.

Other information: This happens to people using Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, so it doesn’t appear to be related to the operating system, just to Word 2007 and later (and possibly other Office 2007 and later documents?)

45 comments

  1. [...] for the Word users: how to deal with documents that suddenly go read-only for no reason var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Weekly links roundup"; [...]


  2. Thanks for the info, I have the same problem in Office 2010 unfortunately.


  3. I’m having this same problem ever since Office 2007 was installed on my machine. It happens at the most inconvenient time — frequently when up against deadlines. It is very frustrating when I have to interrupt my thoughts and dick with trying to save a document, then try to resume where I left off before being so inconsiderately interrupted with such prevalent nonsense that should have been fixed years ago.

    I always have several documents open at the same time, and one of the documents will flip to Read-Only for no reason. Of course, you don’t find out until you try to do a manual save or close the document.

    Interestingly, I go to Windows Explorer, right-click on the file and then click Properties. The Read-only box is, of course, not checked. And, as it seems with everybody else, you cannot save the document. So, I save it under a different name and close the original document without saving changes. Now, this is where it gets interesting.

    When I try to re-open the original document, it opens in Read-only mode even though the Properties for the file still shows the Read-only box NOT checked.

    I had about five other documents open at the same time; so, I started closing them on-by-one. After closing each one, I would try to open the original problem-document again. And, each time I tried to open it, it opened in Read-only mode!

    It was not until after ALL open documents were closed and Word 2007, itself, closed along with the last document that the original problem-document finally opened for me correctly and did not open in Read-only mode.


  4. Yes, same case for some of the users in my office too. I myself using (windows 7 + office 2010) was able to produce this case only once. But seems up til now, there are still no cause & solution found yet… =(


  5. This is happening to me a lot. I find it appalling to recommend disabling features to fix a glitch. Because Word fails too much for my taste, I need to have the “create backup” in place and functioning. Word recovery mostly works, but I don’t trust Word enough to rely on just the recovery mode. I’m trying hard to get my company to switch to OpenOffice. Word is hard to use, finicky and frustratingly petty in how it goes way overboard to help create documents. Word is fine for home users, but it is not a professional user’s application, in my opinion.


  6. This is happening to me also. I originally had Vista, but was having troubles with the system shutting down, so IT installed 2007 onto my machine. Any documents that I did in Vista opens in Read-only. I have done right click – read only is not checked, when I go in the tools one under properities read-only is checked, I un check – resave and it does nothing. This is so frustrating as I cannot delete or move the darn things and really dislike taking the chance on working on a document that now may have a rev or 1 etc. on it.


  7. This happened to me in Word 2010 when I saved a document from SharePoint using “Save As” so I could do the edits offline. I did not checkout the document. I have done this may times before (using the same PC) without any issues. But for some reason, it happened only the last time I edited the document. The workaround was to:
    – Open the document by right-clicking on the document and selecting “Open” (do not dobule-click to open)
    – Save using the “diskett icon” (do not use the Save function from File).


  8. it is beyond amazing that microsoft has absolutely no comment on this very real and difficult problem. you have summarized all the comments by people trying to fix this, but the issue is clearly one that microsoft needs to address (those solutions you have don’t work for me).

    how could microsoft fail to notice this issue in a 7th generation word processing program?

    i hate to say it, but they should be broken up. no competition=crummy user relationships. I want a choice!


  9. For me it turned out to be my antivirus client (Trend OfficeScan). When I disable it, the problem goes away.


  10. This just happened to me tonight and I can’t figure out how to turn off the read-only recommended option. I don’t get a “tools” button when I looked at the “save as” menu. Can anyone help?


  11. None of the tips that I had found at Microsoft or on the Internet search engines worked for me. Finally, after days of searching, I ran across a tip that has fixed my problem twice, now.

    I have Word 2007 on Windows 7 64 bit. Here is what worked for me:

    Open the Word document.
    Click on the Office button at the upper left of the Word window.
    From the drop-down menu, go to the bottom and select “Word Options”.
    In the Word Options window, select “Save”.
    When the Save window opens, remove the checkmark on “Save AutoRecovery information every ___ minutes.”
    Go to the bottom of that window and click “OK”, and then close that window.


  12. Thanks for that (it’s the one in my second bullet point).

    I have that setting turned off all the time, but I don’t know what setting my authors have. I’m also not sure if this is a setting that goes with the document, or is computer-specific. I suspect it’s computer-specific, not document-specific, but I’m not sure.

    –Rhonda


  13. I was having this problem on a users computer running Office 2010 on an XP machine. I went through all of your steps to help her access the files on the network she needed to be able to edit and save for everyone to see. Her security permissions were upgraded to Full Control and still, every time she opened any document on the network she had the “[Read Only]” in the title bar. I went back from the beginning and saw how she was accessing the files. She had a shortcut on her desktop linking to the folder from the network she needs to access instead of opening up the network through a mapped drive in My Computer. Once I mapped the drive she needed access to, I created a shortcut to her desktop from the mapped drive. She can now open any document from that mapped drive and edit and save them.


  14. That’s a good suggestion — I also open some documents from a desktop icon that points to a file path. If my client hasn’t locked it down, I might try the mapped network drive thing too.

    –Rhonda


  15. I’ve had an ongoing problem with Word 2007 files suddenly opening as “read only” though “read only” is not selected under properties. My bogus solution was always to save the file with a new name, mainly because I couldn’t find a fix. Until now. I opened last night’s file, which was magically “read only’ this morning, went to google and found this thread, turned off autosave – as mentioned above – and presto, no longer “read only.” Hey MS, this is a bogus problem. We pay you too much to ignore it. Thanks for the fix solutions, everyone.


  16. Belay my previous note. It’s happening again, after I turned off the autosave function. The best I can now figure is this: the files seem to become “read only” after I save them as .pdf documents. I’ll keep working with it, and will post if anything new crops up.


  17. I notice this happens EVERY time I modify a style that is connected to a bulleted or numbered list. It doesn’t happen if I modify non-list styles.


  18. Thanks John — I’ll keep an eye on that!

    –Rhonda


  19. I posted in January about not being able to find the “read-only recommended” option. Last night I started working on an older manuscript again and suddenly had it go read-only tonight. I had forgotten about the issue and turning off the “allow background saves” option. With my other documents, turning off background saves and using the Microsoft Office button to save rather than CTRL+S eliminated the problem. I like leaving auto recovery on just in case.


  20. I thought I was the only person with this neverending nightmare. Thanks to all your posts and ideas and I second (third) the comments about how Microsoft should fix this.


  21. •Check the General Options settings for the document (Microsoft Office button > Save As > Tools drop-down [to the immediate left of the Save button) > General Options > clear the Read-only Recommended check box if it’s checked — no, I had NO idea this option existed either!).

    I cannot find Tools drop down – I have turned off auto-Save and Auto-Recover. Now all my docs are opening Read Only


  22. OK Found Tools: Click on Save – at the bottom of the screen there is a small arrow named tools = click on General Options and click off Read Only. No it didn’t work but I was happy to find it.


  23. The same very frustating issue I have here and in my case it is resolved after removing the Visio objects in the document. Well, the full story is the document was created by other author, uploaded to Sharepoint then I downloaded a local copy for editing. For troubleshooting purpose, I copied part of the document then saved it to a brand new Word document. I then tested and verified that the issue still exist, ie. turned to read-only mode after saving the document once. Then, I removed all of the Visio objects then save and close the document. Re-open it then edit and save, then edit and save again, this time the document is not read-only and can be saved.

    Another solution which works for me is to save the file as .doc format.


  24. Hmmm… food for thought. I’m pretty sure that several of my docs that may have had this issue could well have had inserted Visio diagrams. I’ll keep an eye out for that in future.

    Thanks for sharing, Henri.

    –Rhonda


  25. Thank You!!! Have been struggling with this for hours. The suggestion that worked for me:

    •Check the General Options settings for the document (Microsoft Office button > Save As > Tools drop-down [to the immediate left of the Save button) > General Options > clear the Read-only Recommended check box if it’s checked

    It was checked, I unchecked it and no more prompting for read-only when opening the file


  26. Sounds like the most common way this issue is fixed (based off all comments here) is to uncheck the “read only recommended” box.. but I can’t find it. I can find the MS word options section, but not that box. Using Word 2007 (i think) … same problem as everyone else. Annoying.


  27. Yeah.. in Word 2007, when you click “Word options” from the dropdown, in there, there is no “general options”, it says popular.. followed by others, advanced, ect. No “general options” though in 2007 version. Does anybody know where to find the “read only recommended” box in 2007? I looked everywhere in that options box


  28. Hi Mason

    You’re looking in the wrong place. In bullet 3 above, you click the Tools drop-down arrow next to the Save button on the Save As dialog box. Then you’ll see the General Options.

    I’ll add a screen shot to the blog post in a few minutes — that should help.

    –Rhonda


  29. You are awesome !!! The “tools” button??? really??? who EVER notices this? All of your advice — from turning off background saves to deleting temp files –super This Read-Only problem has been plaguing me for about 2 months on a 200 + page document, and when I backed up my computer each night, the backup was a nightmare because of all of the newly-named files I had. Should have deleted some, but was nervous about it. This is by far the ONLY (not to mention the best) explanation I have EVER read. Kudos. Bravo. Now will go to Pay Pal. Can’t thank you enough.


  30. Glad I could help, Pat. And thanks so much for the donation.

    –Rhonda


  31. Rhonda am having the same exact issue except this was the first time it happened to me. I’ve been trying to insert jpg’s into Word doc from iPhoto and after trashing and saving all the files I had a corruption issue. So now am starting again. Not sure if you can help but if so I promise to go to paypal! I’m a journalist and am about to embark on writing a hefty manuscript. Lord help me!
    Suze


  32. PS: This is going to be a 40 page document and can only make it to 20 without issues occurring when I manually save. Even kept the “Info” panel open to make sure the lock remained unlocked! Suze


  33. Hi Suze

    Let’s first eliminate the photos as a reason. Are you copying them directly from iPhoto? Or saving them to another location, then inserting them? My experience is that saving then inserting is a safer practice.

    If that’s not the reason, then you may need to look at some of the options in this other blog post of mine: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/microsoft-word-crashes-recovery-options/

    Hope one of those helps

    –Rhonda


  34. I am just finishing a novel I’ve worked on for several years. I’ve had no problem with the same Word 2007 during this process until yesterday. Now I’m unable to save editing changes because of the sudden appearance of the Read-Only on the documents, like all of you have experienced. This will really hamper getting the book finished and sent-out.
    Three questions:
    (1) Has anyone tried to reinstall a new Word 2007 to replace the old one (i.e., the on with the Read-Only problem)? Did this help? It seems if my Read-Only problem only occurred after several years, this may not occur again for similar time length. Or am I just missing something obvious.
    (2) What happens when you send the Word 2007 file with a Read-Only problem to an editor or publisher or anyone who needs to make changes to the document? Will they also experience the Read-Only problem and not be able to process your manuscript or whatever work the document holds?
    (3) Has anyone contacted Microsoft directly about the problem and threatened a law suit or something if they don’t send out a Patch to remedy this horrendous, disabling problem for the thousands of users?

    Chris, Denver, CO


  35. Hi Chris

    As far as #2 goes, there’s no reason why the recipient wouldn’t be able to edit the document. However, they will likely have to ‘save as’ under a different file name, which may be what they do as a matter of course anyway (it’s my first step as soon as I get a new document to edit, whether it’s ‘read-only’ or not).

    –Rhonda


  36. Thank you, Rhonda. I hope this will be the case for #2. Regarding my #1 question, I probably should have said “reinstall a new Word 2010.” I’m not sure you can purchase a 2007 Word now (??). I thank you for this blog and will be visiting Pay Pal. I’ll start trying all of the suggestions mentioned.


  37. Of late I am facing the same probelm so terribly. Everytime the document I am editing automatically goes to read only mode I am working on word 2007 on windows 7 and spent so much time trying to find a fix, tried different solutions but none of them seem to work. I am alternating between the file names. This particular problem started with this document where I am using equation editor and I notice that this didn’t happen with earlier documents where I was not using. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated


  38. I just encountered the same kind of problem, but a different cause. I’m still using Office 2003, and for a long time I couldn’t open .docx files. I had to get the people I was working with who had Office 2007 to save and send their documents to me as .doc files. At some point when MS did one of their system updates I was suddenly able to open and edit docx files, and save them as docx. Then today I tried to open one of these files that I had revised 2 days ago to make another revision and got a message box “There was a problem sending the command to the program” But it opened the file anyway as a temp file (read only), but it wasn’t read only and I was able to make the revisions and save it as a new file name. I tried several other docx files and they all had the same problem. I also knew that MS made one of their system updates in the last 2 days. I tried all the solutions in this thread and nothing worked. But looking at the file properties of one one of these I saw under the “General” tab – “type of file: DOCX” “Opens with – “Microsoft Open XML Converter”. So I changed it to “Opens with – “Microsoft Office Word”. This changed all the icons for the docx files from ones that were only slightly different from the doc file icons to ones that look like a sheet of paper, and also changed the “type” column from “Office 2007 Document” to “DOCX File”. But this did fix the problem and I can open and edit docx just like before. Very strange, MS just keeps tinkering without giving us a clue (and yes, I do know that support for 2003 will be ending).


  39. delete .tmp files in the input dir


  40. Word 2007 on open is writing ~filename.tmp record in the input directory. If the file is not closed accurately (e.g. Word is canceled) the record is not closed properly and file is treated as still being opened by Word 2007.
    Hope this helps.


  41. I can’t save to My Documents because suddenly I don’t have necessary permissions. You know what comes next: I’m the only one who uses the PC and have MINIMAL permissions set.


  42. Oddly enough, two of the same problems just sprang up on my dad’s computer and my own in the last couple days. (He has Office 2007 STARTER version. I have the full version.) I do certain things on my PC that he does not–like clean up the Registry via Crap Cleaner and update iTunes.

    The problems are: ‘You don’t have administrator rights to save here. Save to the My Documents folder instead.” (I think this has worked in some cases and not in others. The document cannot be simply SAVE AS/renamed in the same directory). Also upon trying to print, an error message says “Word cannot print the document due to a problem with the current printer setup.” Both PCs have printers and current drivers installed–which have worked fine for many moons.

    It’s possible at some recent point I tried to see if I could print on his printer, or something. We’re networked I think via wireless? But for all intents & purposes absolutely no sharing should be happening.

    Odd that this would happen so suddenly.


  43. Since I reported this problem to CyberText last year, the following steps have helped me avert the problem. These also appeared as earlier comments in CyberText:
    – Delete temporary files before entering document (%temp%)
    – Open documents with right click only
    – Avoid control S to save when working
    – Don’t use the Word Thesaurus or Dictionary


  44. I was having this problem and the answer was this item: “Check Windows Explorer and make sure you don’t have the document open in Preview Pane view as this will lock it (in Vista, open Windows Explorer and go to Organize > Layout > Preview pane).” Completely solved now.


  45. Note that (in Windows Explorer) if you have the preview pane open in the folder you’re opening files from, they can be opened in read-only mode – close the pane with the icon top right of the folder’s Document Library and your problem might be solved.



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