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Listing Documents with Passwords

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Listing Documents with Passwords.

Jamie asked if it is possible to get a list of all passworded Word documents, or all documents using a particular password. The short answer is "No, Word doesn't have such a capability." Passwords are saved with a document, and if you don't know the password (or cannot guess a password), then you cannot open a document. Period.

The longer answer is that if you know what passwords you were personally most likely to use on a document, then you could write a macro that would attempt to open your documents using those passwords. The macro could follow these general steps:

  1. Try to open a document using the various passwords.
  2. If successful, keep track of the document name and password used.
  3. If unsuccessful, keep track of the document name.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each document.
  5. Present a list of documents opened with each password.
  6. Present a list of documents unable to be opened with the supplied passwords.

Note that this approach will only work if you already know the possible passwords. For instance, if you have three or four passwords you typically use, then you could use these steps to test documents with those likely passwords. If a particular document doesn't use one of those passwords, then you are out of luck—the document will just be considered "unopenable" in step 3 and listed in step 6.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1617) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Listing Documents with Passwords.

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