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How to Fix the Excel File is Read Only Issue

Dealing with the frustrating "Excel file is read-only" message? You're not alone! It's that annoying hurdle that pops up when you least expect it. But fear not! In this easy-to-follow guide, we will explore the "Excel file is read only" error, and its potential causes, and provide step-by-step solutions to help you overcome this issue and regain full access to your Excel files.

Part 1: What is "Excel File is Read Only" Error?

The "Excel file is read-only" error occurs when you attempt to open or modify an Excel file, but the file is marked as read-only, preventing you from making any changes. When this error appears, you will see a notification or message indicating that the file is read-only and cannot be edited.

The read-only status of an Excel file can be intentional or unintentional, depending on various factors such as file properties, network settings, or security measures implemented by the system or user.

Part 2: Why “Excel File is Read Only” Error Occurs?

There are several potential reasons why an Excel file may be marked as read-only:

  • File Properties: In some cases, the read-only attribute is set intentionally for specific Excel files, either by the user or by the system, to prevent accidental modifications.
  • Network or Server Settings: If your Excel file is on a network drive or shared server, the read-only setting might be set by the network or server administrator. This is to keep the data safe and stop anyone from making changes without permission.
  • Corruption or Damage: If an Excel file is corrupted or damaged, the application may mark it as read-only to prevent further modifications that could potentially worsen the situation.
  • Security Measures: Some organizations or systems implement security measures that automatically mark certain files as read-only to prevent unauthorized access or changes.
  • User Permissions: If the user trying to open or modify the Excel file does not have the necessary permissions or access rights, the file may be marked as read-only.

Part 3: How to Fix the Excel File is Read Only Issue

While the "Excel file is read-only" error can be frustrating, there are several solutions you can try to regain full access to your Excel files. Here are some effective fixes to resolve this issue:

Fix 1: Use the "Edit Anyway" Feature

In some cases, Excel may provide an option to "Edit Anyway" when you encounter a read-only error. This feature allows you to open the file in a temporary, editable state, where you can make the necessary changes. However, it's important to note that any modifications made through this method will not be saved back to the original file. Instead, you will need to save the file with a different name or location.

To use the Edit Anyway feature, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the read-only Excel file.

Step 2: When prompted with the read-only notification, click on the "Edit Anyway" option. Make the desired changes to the file.

excel edit anyway

Step 3: Go to the File menu and click "Save As" to save the modified file with a different name or location.

Fix 2: Save as New File

If the "Edit Anyway" option is not available, or if you want to keep the original file intact, you can create a new copy of the Excel file and work on the copy instead. Here's how:

Step 1: Open the read-only Excel file. Go to the File menu and select "Save As."

save as new file

Step 2: Choose a new location or folder to save the file, and give it a new name.

Step 3: Once the new file is saved, you can make any necessary changes to it without affecting the original read-only file.

This solution is particularly useful when you want to open a read only excel file and make modifications without affecting the original.

Fix 3: Remove "Read-only" from an Excel file "Marked as Final"

In some cases, Excel files may be marked as "final" by the application, causing them to be read-only. To remove this read-only status, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the read-only Excel file. Go to the File menu and select "Info."

Step 2: Under the "Protect Workbook" section, click on "Mark as Final."

mark as final option

Step 3: In the confirmation dialog box, click "OK" to remove the "Mark as Final" status.

The Excel file should now be editable, and you can make the necessary changes.

Fix 4: Uncheck the Read-only Recommended Option

Excel provides a "Read-only recommended" option that can cause files to be opened in read-only mode by default. If this option is enabled, you can disable it to prevent Excel files from opening as read-only:

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel. Go to the File menu and select "Options."

Step 2: In the Excel Options dialog box, navigate to the "Trust Center" section and click on "Trust Center Settings."

trust center settings

Step 3: In the Trust Center dialog box, click on "Protected View." Uncheck the "Enable Protected View for files" option.

excel protected view

Step 4: Click "OK" to save the changes and close the dialog boxes.

After disabling the "Read-only recommended" option, Excel files should no longer open in read-only mode by default, resolving the "Excel files opening as read only" issue.

Fix 5: Configure Excel File Read-only Properties

You can also modify the read-only properties of an Excel file directly to remove the read-only status. Here's how:

Step 1: Right-click on the read-only Excel file. Select "Properties" from the context menu. In the Properties window, navigate to the "General" tab.

Step 2: Under the "Attributes" section, uncheck the "Read-only" checkbox.

excel read only file

Step 3: Click "Apply" to save the changes. Close the Properties window.

The Excel file should now be editable, and you can make the necessary modifications.

Part 4: Remove Read Only from Excel Without Password Using Wondershare Repairit

If none of the above solutions work, or if you're unable to access the read-only Excel file due to a forgotten password or other restrictions, you can use a third-party tool like Wondershare Repairit to remove the read-only status without a password.

Wondershare Repairit is a powerful file repair tool that can help you regain access to locked or protected Excel files. Repairit's user-friendly interface ensures ease of use, even for those without extensive technical expertise. This accessibility factor makes it an attractive option for individuals seeking a straightforward solution to their Excel file problems.

  • Repair damaged Excel files with all levels of corruption, including blank files, files not opening, unrecognizable format, unreadable content, files layout changed, etc.

  • Repairs all kinds of data stored in damaged Excel files such as tables, charts, formulas, comments, images, etc.

  • Support all formats of Excel files: XLSX/XLSM/XLTX/XLTM/XLS

  • Perfectly repair corrupted files with a very high success rate, without modifying the original file.

  • No limit to the number and size of the repairable files.

  • Support Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019/2022, and macOS 10.10~macOS 13.

  • Except Excel, Repairit also supports all formats of PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, ZIP, and Adobe files.

Additionally, Repairit's compatibility with various Excel file formats ensures versatility in handling different file types.

Here's how to use Wondershare Repairit to remove the read-only status from an Excel file without a password:

Step 1: Download and Launch Wondershare Repairit on your computer. Select "File Repair" from the main interface. Click "+Add" to locate and select the read-only Excel file.

add files to repairit

Step 2: Hit the "Repair" button to begin the process of removing the read-only restriction.

wondershare repairit

Step 3: Once the process is complete, the Excel file should be accessible and editable without any read-only restrictions.

preview and save

Wondershare Repairit is a convenient and effective solution for removing read-only restrictions from Excel files, especially when other methods fail or when you don't have the necessary permissions or passwords. It can help you open a read only excel file and make the required changes.


Getting the "Excel file is read only" error can be annoying, but it's usually fixable. By following the solutions outlined in this article, such as using the "Edit Anyway" feature, saving as a new file, removing the "Mark as Final" status, unchecking the "Read-only recommended" option, configuring file properties, or using a third-party tool like Wondershare Repairit, you can regain full access to your Excel files and make the necessary modifications.

  • Why does Excel mark a file as read-only?

  • Excel can mark a file as read-only for various reasons, including file properties, network or server settings, file corruption or damage, security measures, or user permissions.

  • Can I save changes to a read-only Excel file?

  • No, you cannot directly save changes to a read-only Excel file. However, you can use the "Edit Anyway" feature, save the file with a new name or location, or remove the read-only status using the solutions provided in this article.

  • What should I do if none of the solutions work for removing the read-only status from an Excel file?

  • If none of the solutions work, you may need to seek assistance from an Excel expert or Microsoft Support. In some cases, the read-only status may be enforced by system policies or security measures that require administrative privileges or specialized knowledge to override.