11 Ways to Remove Read-Only From Excel

Go through this quick, tried, and tested Excel tutorial to learn how to remove read-only from Excel.

No doubt, Microsoft Excel is the leading data analytics and visualization tool. However, there are times when you might encounter a read-only notification while trying to edit an Excel file.

Yellow ribbon for read only
Yellow ribbon for read-only

The notification can pop up as a yellow ribbon above the Excel formula bar.

Read-Only due to Excel settings
Read-Only due to Excel settings

Also, it might show up as a Windows dialog box when you open a new Excel file from the internet or email.

Can't save due to read-only
Can’t save due to read-only

Moreover, you might see an error message when trying to save an Excel file after editing it.

The intention of Excel read-only is often to protect yourself from phishing and malware attacks through Macro and ActiveX content. Or, the author of the Excel file has made it read-only through password protection or without.

To help you edit your or your organization’s Excel files, provided that you’ve got the necessary permissions, I show you different methodologies to remove read-only from an Excel workbook.

📒 Read More: Ways to Mark a Workbook as Final in Microsoft Excel

Disable Always Open Read-Only

The domain administrator of your organization likely enabled advanced security settings from Microsoft 365 Administration. The purpose is to alert you whenever you open any unknown or known Excel files to check if you trust the workbook. It also enables IT admins to set up accountability.

Enable editing button
Enable editing button

So, if you’re not allowed to disable read-only settings or you don’t want to do that, click the Enable Editing button on the Protected View ribbon.

The File tab
The File tab

Suppose, if you’ve got permission to disable the read-only setting, click the File tab and then select Info from the left-side navigation panel.

Always Open Read Only
Always Open Read Only

On the right side, click the Protect Workbook drop-down. Click the Always Open Read-Only button once to deactivate the Excel read-only feature.

Save the Excel file and open it again to remove read-only from an Excel workbook.

Change Document Label

The Restrict Access feature of the Protect Workbook menu allows you to give role-based access to a select few users within the organization domain to stop unauthorized copying of confidential data. So, if you’re the author of the file, you can disable the feature to allow everyone in the organization to edit the file if shared with them.

Protect Workbook menu

To do so, open your Excel workbook and click on the File tab. On the left side navigation panel, click Info and then select Protect Workbook menu on the right.

Restrict access users
Restrict access users

Hover your cursor over the Restrict Access option. A list of available users of the file will open in the overflow menu.

Restricted Access option
Restricted Access option

Again, hover the mouse cursor over any of those users and click on the Restricted Access option.

All employees unrestricted
All employees unrestricted

The Sensitivity dialog will pop up. There, click the Confidential or Highly Confidential drop-down and change it to Public or General. Don’t forget to hit the Apply button.

Save the file. From now on, anyone with access or an invitation to this Excel workbook can open and edit the content of the spreadsheet.

If you’re not the owner of the workbook, you can’t change the Excel workbook sensitivity levels. You must request the author or IT admin of your organization.

Get the Correct Password for the Workbook

When you password-protect an Excel workbook, you set two passwords. One is for read-only open access and the other one is for edit access.

Suppose, you’ve received a password-locked Excel file with only one password. It’s highly likely for the read-only view and not for editing. So, ask the author to share the second password that allows you to edit and save the file.

Disable Excel Workbook Password

If you’re the owner of an Excel workbook and the collaborators of that file complain about the intermittent issue of Excel read-only status, disable the password protection. Test if the issue resolves after doing so. Once tested, set up the password again.

Unprotect sheet
Unprotect sheet

Open your workbook and go to the locked worksheet. Click the Review tab and select the Unprotect Sheet command inside the Protect block.

Unprotect sheet password
Unprotect sheet password

The Unprotect Sheet dialog will show up. Enter your password to unlock the worksheet.

Save the workbook. Now, open it again to check if you get the read-only error again or not. If you don’t set up the password protection again and share correct write-access and read-access passwords with the collaborators.

Excel Read-Only Removal From File Properties

The Excel workbook’s Windows file attribute was likely changed by someone to Read-only. Hence, you’re always getting the read-only message when trying to edit and save the Excel file.

Properties context menu
Properties context menu

To fix this, go to the local directory of the Excel workbook and right-click. Choose Properties from the context menu.

Disable read-only
Disable read-only

Now, checkmark the Read-only checkbox on the Properties dialog. Click Apply and then hit OK to change the attribute to read and write access.

Save the File as New to Remove Excel Read-Only

You can always save a new copy of the Excel workbook if it has not been protected using the Restricted Access feature of Microsoft 365.

So, if your workbook is read-only, instead of saving the edits in the original file you can save it as a new file with the edits.

On the read-only file, after making the edits, click the Save button. On the warning box, click OK.

Save As dialog
Save As dialog

Excel takes you to the Save As menu. Click Browse and choose a different directory for the new Excel workbook. You can rename the file or keep it as is.

Hit the Save button to get write access in a read-only Excel workbook.

Disable Excel Read-Only Recommended From Save As

Are you or your colleagues facing the Excel read-only issue after saving a workbook recently? The Read-only recommended feature might be active in the General Options of Save As Tools.

Save As Tools
Save As Tools

Save the file again to a different directory from the Save As dialog. Before hitting the Save button, click the Tools drop-down option near the Save button.

General Options
General Options

Click on the General Options in the drop-down. A small dialog box shall open.

Read only recommended check mark
Read-only recommended checkmark

There, uncheck the Read-only recommended setting.

Now, save the files to disable the Excel read-only feature.

Modify Various Excel Trust Center Settings

Trust center settings
Trust center settings

Press Alt + F + T to open the Excel Options dialog box. There, go to the Trust Center category on the left and click on Trust Center Settings on the right-side menu.

You should now find various Trust Center options on the left side panel. There, make the following changes:

MS Office trusted locations
MS Office trusted locations
  • Trusted Locations: Ensure the location of the Excel file is in this list. If not, click the Add new location to add a trusted location on the PC or connected network.
Allow documents on a network
Allow documents on a network
  • Trusted Documents: Checkmark Allow documents… in this setting.
Protected View settings
Protected View settings
  • Protected View: Uncheck all three checked options under the Protected View section on the right.

If you face repeated issues of Excel read-only for files in unsafe locations, downloaded from the internet, and Outlook attachments, you can change the Protected View settings. However, exercise caution when downloading unknown files from any such sources.

Excel Read-Only Removal on PowerShell

Suppose there are multiple read-only Excel workbooks in a directory on your PC. It’s possible to bulk remove the read-only attribute from multiple files using the Windows PowerShell terminal.

Power User
Power User

Open PowerShell with admin or elevated rights from the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start menu.

PS Script
PS Script

Copy and paste the following script inside the PowerShell terminal and hit Enter:

# Specify the directory
$dir = "D:\\"

# Get all Excel files in the directory
$files = Get-ChildItem -Path $dir -Recurse -Include *.xlsx, *.xls

# Loop through each file
foreach ($file in $files) {
    # Check if the file is read-only
    if (($file.Attributes -band [IO.FileAttributes]::ReadOnly) -eq [IO.FileAttributes]::ReadOnly) {
        # Remove the read-only attribute
        $file.Attributes = $file.Attributes -band -bnot [IO.FileAttributes]::ReadOnly
        Write-Host "Removed Read-Only from $($file.FullName)"
    }
}

If your Excel files are in another directory than the D:\ drive, enter the file path accordingly.

Removed read-only in bulk
Removed read-only in bulk

Once done, PowerShell shall show an itemized list of Excel workbooks from which it has removed read-only attributes.

Remove Excel Read-Only Using macOS Terminal

If your Excel files are in the Downloads folder of your Mac, you can use the Terminal app to convert all read-only XLSX files to read-write access files.

Remove read-only in Mac
Remove read-only on Mac

Open Terminal, type the following code, and hit Return to navigate to Downloads:

cd ~/Downloads

Once you are in Downloads, copy and paste the following code and hit Return.

% find . -name "*.xls*" -exec chmod u+w {} \;

This code should instantly remove the read-only attribute from Excel files on Mac.

If your Excel files are in a different directory than the Downloads, enter the appropriate directory address before running the script.

Use Excel VBA to Remove Excel Read-Only

If you want to skip the multistep processes mentioned so far and also want to automate the process of removing read-only attributes from Excel workbooks, you can use a VBA macro.

The following script prompts you to select the target file for read-only file attribute removal.

You choose a file from your PC and also choose a different directory to save the new file.

Removed read-only using VBA
Removed read-only using VBA

Excel VBA does the conversion process from read-only to write-access file.

Excel VBA script to convert file attribute
Excel VBA script to convert file attribute
Sub ConvertToReadWritePermissions()
    Dim filePath As Variant
    Dim newFilePath As Variant
    
    ' Loop until user cancels
    Do
        ' Prompt user to select the file
        filePath = Application.GetOpenFilename("Excel Files (*.xls; *.xlsx), *.xls; *.xlsx", , "Select Excel File", , False)
        
        ' Check if user canceled
        If filePath = False Then
            MsgBox "Operation canceled."
            Exit Sub
        End If
        
        ' Prompt user to specify location and name for the new file
        newFilePath = Application.GetSaveAsFilename(FileFilter:="Excel Files (*.xls; *.xlsx), *.xls; *.xlsx", Title:="Save As")
        
        ' Check if user canceled
        If newFilePath = False Then
            MsgBox "Operation canceled."
            Exit Sub
        End If
        
        ' Remove read-only attribute
        SetAttr filePath, vbNormal
        
        ' Open the workbook
        Workbooks.Open filePath
        
        ' Save as new copy with read-write permissions
        ActiveWorkbook.SaveAs newFilePath, AccessMode:=xlReadWrite
        
        ' Close the workbook without saving changes to the read-only original file
        ActiveWorkbook.Close SaveChanges:=False
        
        ' Inform user about the success
        MsgBox "File saved as read-write at " & newFilePath & ".", vbInformation
        
    Loop
End Sub

You can read the following Excel tutorial to learn how to use this VBA script to create a VBA macro.

📒 Read More: How To Use The VBA Code You Find Online

Conclusions

These are all easy and proven methods to remove the read-only status or attribute from an Excel workbook. Try the method that suits your Excel expertise level.

If the article helped you or you would like to share feedback, do comment below.

About the Author

Tamal Das

Tamal Das

I'm a freelance writer at HowToExcel.org. After completing my MS in Science, I joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of data analysis and data visualization techniques as a business analyst. Now, I'm a professional freelance content writer for everything Excel and its advanced support tools, like Power Pivot, Power Query, Office Scripts, and Excel VBA. I published many tutorials and how-to articles on Excel for sites like MakeUseOf, AddictiveTips, OnSheets, Technipages, and AppleToolBox. In weekends, I perform in-depth web search to learn the latest tricks and tips of Excel so I can write on these in the weekdays!

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