5 Working Solutions to Fix ‘Excel File Locked for Editing’

author_icon Ronnie Barnes time_icon Last updated: Oct 15, 2019 03:08 pm tips_icon Excel

If you have been using Microsoft Excel documents for a long time, you may have come across the particular problem we want to address in this article. Maybe someone has sent you an Excel document or you have opened one of your documents, only to see a message saying that the "Excel file is locked for editing". This often means that you will not be able to edit the document as it will typically be in Read-only mode.

When you don't know what to do in this situation, you may quickly become frustrated, especially when you really need to work on the document. In this article, we are going to comprehensively address this problem, offering you credible solutions that can help you unlock an Excel document that has been locked for editing.

1. Why is the Excel File Locked for Editing

Before we get to the solutions, it is important to understand why the Excel document may be locked for editing. The following are just some of the reasons;

  • The file's owner has marked the document as final and as such it can no longer be updated.

  • The person who shared the file with you is still currently editing it.

  • There is another Office app running in the background with the file already opened on it.

excel file is locked for editing

2. A 100% Useful Way to Unlock Excel File for Editing

The most credible way to unlock an Excel file for Editing or opening is to use Passper for Excel. This is a password unlocker tool that can allow you to lift any restrictions on any Excel document in a single click. The following are some of the features that make Passper the ideal solution;

  • Unlock  Excel for editing in 3 Seconds: It can remove the edit restrictions in less  than 3 seconds, allowing you to edit the file without any edit restrictions.

  • Unlock  Excel file for opening: The service of recovering opening passwords from Excel file is also provided.

  • 100% safe  to use: The data on your document will be safe; no data will be leaked out or damaged during the unlocking process.


Passper is highly recommended by well-known software-related media sites, such as Make Use Of,  MacWorld, PCWorld, etc.

media sites

Free Download for Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP

Here's how to unlock any Excel document for editing using Passper for Excel.

Step 1: Download and install Passper for Excel on to your computer and then launch it. Click on the "Remove Restrictions" option in the main window.

remove restrictions step1

Step 2: Click "Add" to import the protected document into the program.

remove restrictions step2

Step 3: Once the document is added, click on "Remove" and the program will instantly begin removing all restrictions from the computer.

remove restrictions step2

In a few seconds, all restrictions will be lifted from the document, allowing you to edit it if you want.

Cannot Open the Locked Excel File? How to Solve It

If you are unable to open the locked Excel document without a password, Passper for Excel can also be able to help. Here's how to use it:

Step 1: Open Passper for Excel and then click on "Recover Passwords" in the main window.

recover password step1

Step 2: Click on "+" to import the protected document into the program. Once the file is imported successfully, select one of the 4 attack modes to use. The attack mode to choose depends on the complexity of the password. If yours is a relatively easy password, the Dictionary or Combination attack modes may work just fine.

recover password step2

Step 3: Click "Recover" and the program will immediately begin the process of recovering the opening password. In a few minutes, the recovered password will be displayed on the screen. You can use it to unlock the document.

recover password step3

3. Other Methods for 'Excel File Locked for Editing'

The following are just some of the other ways to unlock Excel document that is locked for editing.

3.1 Another User is Editing the File

If someone else is editing the file, you could wait until the person is finished and they close the file before you can edit it or you can create a copy of the file and make your own changes. If you choose to copy the file, it may be a good idea to turn on "Tracked Changes" under "Review" to make it easier for both of you to know the changes on the document. Here's how to make a copy of the document;

Step 1: Open the file in Excel.

Step 2: Click on "File > Save As".

Step 3: Select a different location to save the file and then give it a new name. Click on "Save".

excel save as

You can now open the copy and edit it as much as you need to.

3.2 The File is Marked as Final

There is a feature in Office that allows users to mark the Excel document as "Final". This means that the document can't be edited and will only open as "Read-only". If this is the case in your document, you could make a copy of the document as described in the first solution above. You can also click on the "Edit Anyway" button at the top of the document to restore the editing privileges.

excel mark as final

3.3 The Excel App is Running in the Background

If the file you are trying to open has not been marked as "Final" and you are certain that no one is editing it since it is not on a shared network, the only other option is that another Excel app is running in the background. In this case, the best solution would be to close the app running in the background. Here's how to do that in Windows:

Step 1: Right-click on the Windows logo at the lower-left corner of the screen.

Step 2: Click on "Task Manager".

Step 3: Look for any opened Excel apps, select it and then click on "End Task".

task manager

When you've closed them, you should be able to open the document without any problems.

3.4 Make Sure You Use One of These File Formats

If you are trying to get the file to open and it won't open, you might need to make sure that the file is in the correct format: xlsx, xlsm, xlsb format. To check the file format, go to "File > Save As > Browse > Save as Type".

save excel as


As we have seen, there are various reasons why your Excel is locked for editing and as such there are several steps you can take to fix this issue. If however the restriction is of a complex nature or if everything you try to do doesn't work, you may need to use Passper for Excel. This tool saves you a lot of time by working fast to lift restrictions or recover the password to unlock the document.

Free Download for Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP


By Ronnie Barnes to Excel

Posted on Jun 13, 2019 ( Updated: Oct 15, 2019 )

Ronnie Barnes, a blogger with more than 5-year experience in writing tips about password recovery for Windows and office files.