Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Read-Only Documents without a Password.

Read-Only Documents without a Password

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 10, 2018)

One common way to protect documents is to set the sharing options available when you save the document. For instance, when you save your document in Word 2007 you can you can choose Tools | General Options and then fill in the passwords in the dialog box. (One password is used to open the document, and the other is used if you want to prohibit changes to the document.) If you are using Word 2010 or a later version of Word, choose File | Info | Protect Document. Then choose Encrypt With Password to require the user to enter a password to open the file. You can restrict what types of edits can be made to the document if you choose Restrict Editing.

The drawback to these password-based approaches is that the user, when they try to open the document, is presented with a dialog box that asks for a password. The difference between the two passwords is that if you require a password to open, then the user won't even be able to open the document without it. If you require a password to modify the document, then the user can open a read-only copy of the document, even if they don't have the password.

What if you never intend to provide the password to users? In that case, asking for a password seems like a waste of time. Instead, it would be nice to have the users be able to skip the dialog box and just open a read-only copy of the document. There are three ways you can implement a solution in this scenario.

The first (and simplest) solution is to make the document file read-only. Within Windows (not Word), right-click on the document and choose the Properties option. In the resulting dialog box you can modify the read-only attribute for the file. If you mark it as read-only, then nobody can change the document; it will automatically be read-only when opened in Word. Of course, there is nothing stopping someone else from following these same steps and clearing the read-only attribute so that they can change the original file.

The second approach is to take advantage of your network settings, if you have a network. Just talk to your system administrator, and have her create a folder to which you can write, but from which others can only read. That way they can't change the original document, but you can.

The third approach is to protect the document differently. If you are using Word 2007, when you click the Protect Document tool (on the Review tab of the ribbon), Word displays the Protect Document task pane. This type of protection is often used when creating forms, but it has applicability to general documents, as well.

In the Protect Document task pane, choose the check box under Editing Restrictions, use the drop-down list to choose Filling In Forms, click "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection," and then provide a password.

If you are using Word 2010 or a later version the procedure listed above is slightly different. Click on the Restrict Editing tool in the Protect group of the Review tab of the ribbon. Word displays a list of three formatting and editing restrictions options. Under Editing Restrictions use the "Allow only this type of editing in the document" check box and choose No Changes (Read Only) from the drop-down list, click "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection," and then provide a password.

When the document is loaded at a later point, the user is not prompted for a password. The user also won't be able to do other things, such as to select text and copy it. The user will, however, be able to view and print the document, as desired.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11257) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Read-Only Documents without a Password.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Jumping to a Relative Footnote

Footnotes can be a great addition to any document that needs detailed referencing of citations. You can navigate from one ...

Discover More

Setting the AutoRecover Directory

Excel, by default, periodically writes information to AutoRecover files that can help protect your data in case Excel is ...

Discover More

Outside End Data Label for a Column Chart

It can be frustrating when Excel doesn't display the formatting options that you know it should for your charts. This tip ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Changing the Default File Name

When you first save a new file, Word bases the name of that file on the contents of the start of the first paragraph in ...

Discover More

Creating Two Versions of the Same Document

You may often need to create two versions of the same document, one with everything and the other with a subset of what ...

Discover More

Saving Documents Locally and on OneDrive

Want to save your documents in two places? If one of those places is a cloud-based service such as OneDrive, then the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.