Sunday, 9 August 2009

Open Word documents as read only

This post is on how to get particular Microsoft Word documents to open as Read Only, as standard.

If like me you've accidentally overwritten important stuff in certain Microsoft Word files that you use mainly for reference, you'll want to set those documents as read only!

These instructions are for Word 2003 but it should be similar for other versions.

How to set a Word .doc document as read only by default

  1. Open the document you want to make read only.

  2. Go to menu Tools > Options:

  3. Click the Security tab and tick "Read-only recommended" (outlined in red below) and click OK:

  4. Save the document.

In future, when you try to open that document (whether direct or through a shortcut), it will come up with a box like this:

Just hit Enter (or Alt+y) or click Yes, in order to open it as read-only.

Then, if you've inadvertently highlighted stuff in the document and your keyboard goes haywire but you don't notice and it wipes out important stuff and you save it anyway without thinking (you can tell I've been through that!), it won't let you overwrite the original document - it will make you save it as a new document with a different name.

This still works if you've password protected the document. After you've entered your password, the "Open as read-only?" box will pop up.

How to edit the "read only" Word document

If you later want to make changes to that document, just click No when the "Open as read-only?" window pops up.

That will open it up in such a way that you can edit it and save your changes as normal.

But do make sure you close it quickly again after you've done your deliberate individual edits, in case something goes wrong and you overwrite other stuff without realising it!

Troubleshooting tip - still read only?

If it won't open for editing (i.e. won't let you save the original document) but keeps trying to make you save your "readonly recommended" document as a new document even after you've chosen "No" to "Open as read-only?", here's one trick to try.

  1. Close all open Word windows (not just that document but any other open Word documents too).

  2. Open the read-only document again, clicking "No" to "Open as read-only?".

  3. This time it should work. (If not, try restarting Windows. If that still doesn't work you have a bigger problem!).


Alexander Baxevanis said...

The annoying thing is that if you open a document as read-only and later decide that you want to make some change, then you need to close and reopen the document. I wish there was a simpler way to do this - or am I missing something?

Improbulus said...

I've not been able to find a simpler way, built in to Word.

A macro would probably do it.

Can't at the moment but I'll have a go at rustling something up in September, will post if I get one working.

Endre said...

How can I do this in Word 2007?

I would like to make my word document on our server open as read only in default.