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: Read-Only Files.

Read-Only Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 14, 2012)

By definition, a read-only file is one which you can open and look at, but which you cannot change and save under the same file name. There are times when read-only files are beneficial, but what do you do if files are turning into read-only files on their own?

The first thing to check out is those items over which you have control. For instance, has someone set the options in Word so that read-only is the recommended way to save files? You can check this by choosing Options from the Tools menu, then clicking on the Save tab. The Read Only Recommended check box is used to control this feature.

Another possible cause is that you are sharing the Word documents across a network. Let's say you have three users trying to access a file. User A opens the file first and has no problems. Other users try to open the file, and they receive a notice that the file is read-only. The solution to this is easy—simply wait for User A to finish using the document.

A possible cause is that the folder in which the file is located is read-only. You can check this by using the Windows Explorer to check the attributes of the directory. Don't forget to check the attributes of any other directories up the line from the one where you are having a problem.

If the problem files are on a network, it could also be caused by interference from some third-party program. For instance, I know of a site that used a mixed Windows/UNIX network. They used a software package called Samba to enable the Windows system to talk with the UNIX server. When a user would create a document under Word and save it on the server, there would be no problem. However, if another user later opened the same file, then the ownership rights for the file were changed to the second user. When the first user went back to access the file, they received a read-only message on the file. In this case, the error was traced to the Samba software, which was making the changes in the file rights.

If the read-only problem is with a specific file, you can open the file, select all the contents (press Ctrl+A), open a new document, and paste the contents into the new document (Ctrl+V). Then you can save the new document and discard the old.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1057) 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: Read-Only Files.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Finding Text Not Using a Particular Font

Word makes it easy to find text that uses a particular font or font characteristics. What it doesn't do is make it easy to ...

Discover More

Meaningless Text

Need to quickly put some text into a document, even if that text is essentially meaningless? Here's how to put this type of ...

Discover More

Read-Only Embedded Fonts

If you receive a document from somebody else, you might not be able to edit it if the document contains fonts that you don't ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents

What are you to do if you try to open a document and Word automatically closes your previous document? Word is not supposed ...

Discover More

Saving All Open Documents

Got a lot of open documents you are working with? You can save them all at one time by just holding down the Shift key while ...

Discover More

Positioning the Cursor in a New Document

Creating special templates is a great way to establish "standards" for your documents. With a little ingenuity you can even ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share