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How to Solve Excel Read Only Problems and Make Excel More Efficient

If there's something that unites us, it's the frustrations that come with the excel spreadsheet. Although its impact on performance cannot be neglected, it is tiring when some issues pop up. One of the issues to expect with the Excel spreadsheet is the read-only issue.

Although it is a feature that helps to prevent accidental changes to excel, it can occur when a file has been corrupted. Sometimes when an excel file shows read-only, it makes it difficult to access your files. Luckily for you, there's a solution to this. This article will provide several solutions to help you solve Excel read-only problems; let's begin. 

Abstract of Excel Read Only Problems

excel read only problems

If you share an Excel spreadsheet with someone else, they can easily edit and save the changes. However, if you only want them to access the data without making changes, you can set it as read-only.

This feature ensures that your number remains accurate and no one can accidentally or intentionally make changes. However, what if you didn't set the file as read-only, but you get the error message that you cannot open the file. An Excel read-only error message can pop up if you're trying to access a protected document.

Excel read-only problem makes it hard for you to access Excel workbooks. You have to fix this issue if you want to access your Excel file again. There are varying reasons why it could be happening.

One of them could be because you're trying to open an existing file to edit. When this happens, the Excel read-only error message pops up. It could also occur if your file is corrupt. If you save the file on an external hard drive and remove it while editing the file, it could also cause Excel read-only problems. Whatever the reason, this article provides you with solutions to effectively solve Excel read-only problems. 

Cases for Read Only

There are many cases where Excel read-only problems pop up. Luckily, we've rounded up the top issues that come with Excel read-only and how you can fix them. Let's explore them below.

  • Case 1: Excel is Made Read-Only by "Mark as Final. 

excel spreadsheet is marked as final

Sometimes, Excel allows you to mark a finished workbook as the final draft. When you do this, others cannot mess with it anymore and disrupt your data. When a file is 'marked as final,' editing is no longer possible.

If you're trying to edit an excel spreadsheet and it pops up the Excel read-only error message, there's a chance that the worksheet is marked as final. To ensure this, all other actions on the worksheet are automatically disabled. 

One of the signs that this is the case is a yellow message at the top of the Excel spreadsheet. The message usually informs you that the spreadsheet author marked the workbook as final to discourage editing. With this message, you cannot proof, type, or edit the document.

Solution: Click 'Edit Anyway'

Although this is an Excel read-only problem, we have a solution to help you solve Excel read-only problems. Follow the steps below to access Excel workbooks that are marked as final. 

  • If this is the case, the yellow warning message will be right at the top of the page.

  • All you should do is click the 'edit anyways' button right next to the message. 

click edit anyways to solve read only problems
  • Once you click on this 'edit' button, it will allow you to start editing the Excel workbook. 

You will no longer have to deal with Excel read-only warning messages, and you can save changes to the file. 

  • Case 2: Excel File Becomes Read-Only Recommended by "Save As"

Another reason you might encounter the Excel read-only warning message is that the previous user set the file as read-only recommended. When a person gives an Excel spreadsheet this setting, and you open it. Excel prompts you to open the file in a read-only mode. This mode remains, except you want to make edits to it despite the recommendations. 

Solutions: Remove Recommendation

There's a solution to help you solve these Excel read-only problems. You have two options; you can choose to edit and still leave the recommendation. However, if you want to edit and get rid of the recommendation altogether, keep reading. 

  • Firstly, you will come across the message below if you only have a file recommended as 'read only' using saving as:

  • Open the file in read-only.

  • Open the file in editable mode so you can make changes.

  • To get through this and start editing the file immediately, click the 'no' button. Clicking the yes button allows you to view the file without making changes. 

click no to continue

However, there are times when read-only is recommended with a password to ensure this. In such cases, you'll need a password to start editing. If that's not the case, then the Excel workbook should open up right away for you. You can also remove the recommendations following the steps below.

  • Firstly, click on the file menu and choose 'save as' from the options displayed.

  • In the dialog box that appears, select tools to present a drop-down menu.

select tools to remove read only problem
  • From those options, click 'general options' to continue. 

choose general options to continue
  • Clicking on this will lead to a new dialog box for the 'general options'

  • Uncheck the box beside 'read-only recommended' and click ok.

unmark read only recommended
  • Automatically, the read-only restriction will disappear from the Excel document. 

  • Afterward, you can save the file with a new name or with the existing name. 

save a new copy of the excel workbook

Now you're assured that there are no restrictions on the file, and you don't have to deal with the Excel read-only error message the next time you open the file. 

  • Case 3: Excel Worksheet and Workbook Structure is Locked

workbook structure might be locked

Another reason you might be seeking solutions to solve Excel read-only problems is if the worksheet is locked. An Excel file might be in read-only mode if the workbook structure is locked. Sometimes, the author might choose to lock the cells so that users cannot change them. In such a scenario, you can only remove the restriction using a password. 

Solution: Provide Password

You don't have to abandon the workbook in such a situation; there's a solution to this Excel read-only problem. Keep reading this guide to learn how to remove the read-only restriction on a locked worksheet.

  • Firstly, open the Excel file. It will allow you to view the worksheet and all the content it contains.

  • Afterward, click the 'review' tab on the main menu.

  • From the many options in the drop-down menu, choose 'unprotect sheet.' You should be able to find this option under 'changes.

click unprotect sheet to solve excel read only problems
  • Enter the password and press 'ok' to unlock the file.

enter password and tap ok to continue
  • If the file is a workbook structure, then the 'review tab option would be 'unprotect workbook.'

  • Similarly, you would have to enter the password to remove the restriction.

If you successfully remove the read-only restriction, then you should save the document as a new file to remove the restriction. 

  • Case 4: Excel File Is Password Restricted 

Sometimes, you can open an Excel file, and it will request a password to access it. If you have no password, then you have to opt for the read-only option. Most times, this occurs when you download a file from the internet.

If you don't have the password, you have to tap on 'read-only,' and the Excel file will allow you to read without modifying. However, this doesn't mean you cannot unlock the excel file because of the password. It could also be because the author wants to ensure the file stays precisely as it is. 

Solution: Unlock with Password

When an author or previous user locks an Excel file with a password, you can follow the steps below to access them.

  • First tap on the 'review' tab at the top of the Excel window.

  • From the items displayed, there'll be a 'changes' group. You should see 'unprotect workbook' amongst this group. 

click unprotect sheet to continue
  • Select this option to unprotect your file. It will require you to enter the Excel unlock password. If you have the password, enter it. You can always get it from the person who added the protection.

enter the password if you have it
  • Afterward, click ok to unlock your Excel file. 

you can edit when it changes to protect sheet

You know your file is ready to edit and save when the button toggles to 'protect workbook.' You can now make any Excel edits you want on your worksheet.

Bonus Tip: Remove Read Only From Excel Without Password Using Wondershare Repairit

If you want to solve Excel read-only problems without a password for all the cases above, then there's an option for you. The best method to make it possible to edit your Excel file is to use a repair tool like Wondershare Repairit.

Wondershare Repairit is a tool that allows you to remove read-only settings from files without using a password. It is a handy tool when you don't have the password, or the solutions above aren't working. 

You can have your Excel file editable within a few minutes if you follow the steps below.

Step One: Add Your Excel Read-Only Files

add file

Once you launch Wondershare Repairit on your device, you will find it easy to locate the file repair section. Click on the 'add' button in the middle of the page. It will allow you to choose the file from its location. You can select one or multiple files to repair on Wondershare Repairit.

Step 2: Click Repair to Begin the Process

start repair

Once you successfully choose the files, you can click the 'repair' button at the end of the page. Repairit will scan your files and fix all the issues it finds.

Step 3: Preview and Save

save file

After the repair process on Repairit, you can preview the files to see if the read-only error message will still appear. If the tool repairs the files, you can save them to any location you would prefer. 

Vital Tips to Make Excel Spreadsheets More Efficient

As a popular application for managing data and crucial calculations, you don't want your Excel spreadsheet lagging. Even when you solve Excel read-only problems, you have to ensure it is efficient as you carry out calculations. Below are varying tips on how to make your Excel worksheets more efficient. 

Avoid volatile formulas

avoid volatile formulas

One of the classes of formulas in Excel is the volatile formula. This group of formulas continually require recalculation every time you make changes to the workbook. Therefore, you should avoid using these formulas to make your spreadsheet slow while recalculating.

Use helper columns

Most people are not aware of how useful helper columns can be to their design. It is an underestimated design tool in Excel. It will help you prevent array formulas in your spreadsheet. Although array formulas are essential, you shouldn't use them so much. That's where helper columns come in, helping you minimize the use of array formulas.

Disable Add-ins

disable add-ins on excel

Add-ins aim to make your Excel works easier. While they can be helpful, they tend to slow down Excel. These add-ins also cause Excel to freeze up continually and crash. Therefore, you should always disable the add-ins to make your Excel more efficient.

Be careful with conditional formatting.

use conditional formatting carefully

You should apply caution when you're using conditional formatting. Unknown to many Excel users, it is pretty volatile. Although you might not notice the difference when you use it on small data sets, it makes Excel slow when used on large data sets. 

Keep referenced data in one sheet.

Although the solutions above help solve Excel read-only problems, your Excel has other issues if referenced data are in different sheets. We recognize that this isn't always easy to achieve, but it helps make your Excel faster. 

Don't use a complete column/row as a reference.

don’t use entire column as reference

Like using referenced data in another sheet, using entire columns and rows as a reference can make Excel slow. However, this is a mistake common amongst many Excel users. It takes time for Excel to calculate an entire row/column and therefore makes the spreadsheet slow. It is a bad habit, and you should avoid it.

Utilize manual calculation

change to manual calculation

Although we tend to lean on the automatic calculation mode, manual calculation makes Excel faster. It provides Excel with the flexibility of knowing when to calculate. All you have to do is switch to manual calculation mode through the formula tab. This action removes the burden of making decisions from Excel and will help you save time while speeding up the Excel workbook.

Sum Up

There are times when you can fix the Excel read-only error message with only a restart. However, this is rarely the case on Excel, and most users are confused about the next step to take. There are many cases where the Excel read-only error message pops up.

Luckily, this article provides you with solutions to help you solve Excel read-only problems in various cases. If the issue persists or you don't have a password to unlock the file, you can always use Wondershare Repairit. This repair tool works for all cases and has a 100% guarantee rate. It will have your excel file ready to edit within a few minutes.