How to unlock a Word document

How to unlock a Word document

Word document

You can protect documents in Word with a password, but what if you forget it? How to unlock a Word document with or without a password.

Microsoft Word allows you to protect your document with a password. You can choose to lock the entire document so that it cannot be opened without the correct password. If you prefer, you can lock the document for editing so that anyone can open it, but only people with a password can unlock the Word document to make changes.

Once you’ve locked a document, how do you unlock it again? And if you forget your password, is there anything you can do?

To learn how to unlock a Word document with or without a password, follow the steps below.

How to unlock a Word document with a password

There are two main ways to lock a Word document. You can lock the entire file so that it requires a password to open the file and read it. Alternatively, you can lock it for editing, so people can read the file but not edit it without a password.

If the entire document is locked, but you know the password, you can unlock the file quickly and easily.

How to unlock a Word document with the password:

  1. Double-click the Word file as you would open an unlocked document.
  2. Enter the password in the pop-up window that appears.
    enter password
  3. If you entered the correct password, the file will open as normal.
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If you no longer want to lock the Word document, you can remove the password so that it opens normally in the future.

To remove password protection from a Word file:

  1. Open the file by following the instructions above.
  2. Click File.
    Word file menu
  3. Select Info.
    word info
  4. click on Protect the document icon.
    word protection document
  5. Select Encrypt with password.
    word encrypt document
  6. Delete the current password from the password field and click OK.
    word delete password
  7. Save your file and it will now open without the need for a password.

How to unlock a document for editing using the password

If you can open the document for reading but need a password to edit it, you can turn off document protection as long as you know the password.

To unlock a Word document for editing:

  1. Open the document.
  2. click on Review Menu.
    word review menu
  3. If you can’t see Restrict editing icon on the ribbon, click Protect.
    word protection
  4. Select Restrict editing.
    word limit editing
  5. Click Stop protection.
    word stop protection
  6. Enter the password in the pop-up window and click OK.
    enter password
  7. The document can now be edited.
  8. Save the document – it can now be edited by anyone. If you close the document without saving it, it will be locked for editing again the next time it is opened.

How to unlock a document for editing without a password

If a document is locked for editing but can still be read, it is possible to use some solutions to create a new Word document that you can edit, even if you do not know or remember the password.

How to unlock a document for editing using Google Docs

It is possible to upload the document to Google Docs. You can then edit the document directly in Google Docs or export it back as a Word document which will now be editable.

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How to unlock a Word document using Google Docs:

  1. Open Google Docs in a browser and sign in.
  2. click on Folder icon.
    google docs folder
  3. Select Upload.
    google docs upload
  4. Click Scroll through and select the file you want to open or drag it directly into the Google Docs window.
    google docs, etc
  5. The file opens. You can edit in Google Docs and make any changes you want.
  6. Alternatively, to save the file as a new Word document, click File Menu.
    google docs file menu
  7. Hover over download and choose Microsoft Word (.docx).
    Download google docs
  8. The file will be downloaded. You can now open this Word document and edit it without the need for a password.

How to unlock a document for editing using WordPad

If you don’t have a Google Docs account and don’t want to set one up, you can achieve the same effect by using Notepada basic word processing app that comes with Windows.

To unlock a Word document using WordPad:

  1. Click on Windows Search icon.
    Windows search
  2. Type Notepad and click on the app in the results.
    open wordpad
  3. Select File > Open and then select the locked file you want to open.
    open the wordpad file
  4. Click Open and the Word document opens in WordPad.
    open the wordpad file
  5. Edit the document in WordPad or click File > Save As > Office Open XML Document.
    wordpad save as xml
  6. Give the file a name and click store, and the file will be saved in Word .docx format. You can then open it in Word and edit the document without the need for a password.

How to open a locked Word document if you don’t know the password

If the entire document is locked and you don’t know the password, the above methods won’t work as you won’t be able to open the Word document at all. In this case, the only real option is to try to crack the password.

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There are sites and apps that can attempt to do this for you that can be found through a web search, but you are advised to use those sites or apps at your own risk.

Keep your files protected

Knowing how to unlock a Word document allows you to open or edit files even if they are locked with a password. As we have seen, locking Word documents will not necessarily keep them fully protected.

However, there are other ways to protect your files. You can try using Personal Vault on Microsoft OneDrive to keep your cloud files encrypted. It is also possible to hide files and folders from search on Windows to make them harder to find.

If you’re an Apple user, you can set up Activation Lock on your Mac to protect your data if your computer is lost or stolen.

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