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How to Unlock Excel File from Read-only

Nothing is more disturbing and frustrating than a password protected read-only Excel file when you need to edit the document. You have likely landed on this website because you want to know how to unlock an Excel file from read-only.

Microsoft added this security feature to give users a way to protect a sheet or an entire workbook from unwanted changes. It is a great tool, especially when collaborating with others on large documents that contain calculations. A small edit can reverse months or years of work and can end up being very costly.

However, if you are the genuine owner of the document or have the authority to make changes, it is problematic if you don’t know how to turn off read-only from Excel.

Below, we will take you through three ways and a bonus tip to unlock an Excel file from read-only.

Case 1. Unlock Password-Protected Excel Files with Read-Only

Let’s begin with the most common problem, password protected Excel files opening as read-only. This happens because the document creator set a password to protect the document from unwanted or accidental edits. The process of adding a password protects the file and makes it read-only. Users must enter the password to modify the document. To undo this feature and unlock password protected files with read-only, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Double-click the password-protected read-only Excel file to open it.

Step 2: A password dialog box will pop-up. Select the option to open as Read-only.

Open Excel file as read only

Step 3: Go to File > Save As > Browse. Enter a new file name in the Save As dialog and click Tools to reveal the menu below.

save file copy in excel with read only

Step 4: Click General Options. Confirm all options are blank and unchecked, then click OK and click Save to save the new document. The new document should now open without any password restrictions.

remove password in new Excel file with read only

Case 2. Turn Off Read-only Recommended Files in Excel

Users sometimes configure Excel files to open as read-only recommended. When you open such a file, you will get a prompt to open it as read-only. In this situation, this is how to unlock Excel file from read-only:

Step 1: When prompted to open as read-only, select NO.

Step 2: When the file opens, click File, scroll down to Save As, and click Browse.

Step 3: At the bottom of the Save As menu, click Tools, then select General Options.

Step 4: Uncheck the Read-only Recommended box. Leave the password field blank. Click Ok, and you’re done.

Turn Off Read-only Recommended Files in Excel

Case 3. Turn Off Read-only Marked as Final Excel File

One of the best features of Microsoft Excel is the ability to mark a file as final. This is done by clicking File, then info, and in the Protect Workbook menu, scroll down to Mark as Final. Doing this notifies work colleagues and other collaborators that the document version is final and shouldn’t be edited.

Mark excel document as final

To remove this setting, click Edit Anyway on the notification bar.

remove marked as final in excel file

Bonus Tip: How to Remove Read-Only from Excel File without Password

The three preceding methods above are all fairly easy to resolve. When the Excel document is encrypted with a password, it can’t be opened. The contents are neither readable nor previewable.

This feature is great for protecting documents that contain private or sensitive content. The content is confidential and intended only for the recipient. To password protect an Excel file, go to File, Info, and in the Protect Workbook menu, select Encrypt with Password and enter a password.

protect an excel file with a password

Click OK to protect the document.

encrypt an excel file with a password

Microsoft Office 2016 uses advanced 256-bit key AES password protection. This ensures that only people with the password can open the document. Microsoft does not keep a copy of such passwords, so if you forget or lose your password, you are in big trouble. But, all is not lost, there are Excel password remover tools to crack the password. One such tool is known as PassFab for Excel.

PassFab for Excel is a powerful software program that breaks MS-Excel passwords.

Get PassFab for Excel Now

How PassFab for Excel Works

The tool uses three attack vectors to crack any Excel password as follows:

  • Dictionary Attack: This attack tries all known words in the dictionary or a list of past passwords, or even a custom list.
  • Brute-force with Mask Attack: This method is ideal for short passwords and assumes you can remember your password range and length.
  • Brute-force Attack: This method is ideal when you can’t remember anything about the password. It also takes longer than the first two methods.

How to Remove Password with PassFab for Excel

Breaking the password is a simple three-step process. First, download the software from the Developer’s website. Click the desktop icon to launch the software and follow the steps below:

Step 1: Import the locked Excel File

Import the locked Excel File into PassFab for Excel

Step 2: Select the attack mode

select the attack mode PassFab for Excel

Step 3: Get your Excel password back

recover password in PassFab for Excel

And, that’s it. It’s as simple as that! Learn more from our PassFab for Excel Review here.


So there you have it, if you have been wondering how to remove read-only from Excel or how to turn off read-only in Excel, we have provided you with practical, easy methods to do so.

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