[Fixed!] Excel Files Opening as Read Only (13 Possible Solutions)

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In some cases, when you open Excel files you may find those are opening as read only files. This can be caused by many different reasons. Whatever the reason may be, this article will focus on solving the problem of Excel files opening as read only.

13 Possible Solutions for Excel Files Opening as Read Only

Excel files opening as read only can happen for many different reasons. It can happen because of some added security like when you are opening a file from an unknown source on the internet. Also, the writer may have changed the settings to remove the viewer’s editability. Of course, there is a chance that the file is corrupted and is in a read only state. If it is not corrupted, you can try out these different solutions and find out which works for you.

Solution 1: Remove Read Only Property

If the File is already set as read only in its property it should be a read only file. It is the most common cause of this error. Follow these steps to fix this error.


  • First, go to the location of your file.
  • Then right-click on your file and select Properties.

excel files opening as read only

  • After that, in the Properties box go to the General tab and uncheck the Read-only option beside Attribute.

excel files opening as read only

  • Now click on OK.

This will remove the read only attribute from the property of the file.

Read More: How to Remove Read Only from Excel (7 Easiest Ways)

Solution 2: Remove Protection from Antivirus

Similarly, your Excel files may be opening as read only because the anti-virus you are using is marking it as potentially unsafe one and blocking some features. If this is the case for you, you should look up to your anti-virus provider to unblock the file. If the anti-virus is what is blocking you the file should be writable after that.

Solution 3: Turn Off Protected View Feature

To protect your computer, Windows sometimes open your Excel file in Protected View. This can happen when you download the file from a potentially unsafe location, or you have downloaded it from email attachments. In some cases, the files do contain some potential viruses or malware. So this feature helps you reduce the risk for your computer.

Then again, if you still want to exit Protected View, follow these steps.


  • First of all, open Excel and navigate to the File tab on your ribbon.
  • Then select Options from the left side of the preview panel.

  • Now select the Trust Center tab in the Excel Options box.
  • Then under Microsoft Excel Trust Center select Trust Center Settings.

excel files opening as read only

  • As a result, the Trust Center box will open up. Then select the Protected View tab from it and under the Protected View section, uncheck all of the protection options.

excel files opening as read only

  • Finally, click on OK in both the boxes and open the Excel file.

This will solve the problem if the Excel file was opening as read only because of the Protected View feature.

Read More: [Fixed!] This Excel Workbook Was Opened in Read-Only Mode

Solution 4: Free Up Space in OneDrive Storage

If you are storing the file in OneDrive and it is full, you may not be able to edit the file. This is because it may take up more spaces that aren’t available in the drive. As a result, your Excel files from the drive will keep opening in a read only mode. To fix this error, free up space in your OneDrive storage or maybe save it in a different account. This will let you rewrite the file again.

Solution 5: Activate Microsoft Office

If you don’t have the Microsoft office activated, or your license has run out, it will go into Reduced Functionality Mode. Due to this, you will have limited features for Microsoft office applications including Excel files which will keep opening in read only mode. If your license has run out or you don’t have one, then activate Microsoft Office and the problem will be resolved.

Solution 6: Open Excel in Safe Mode

You can try opening the Excel file which opens as read only in safe mode. If the problem is caused by certain startup programs, opening the file in safe mode will eliminate them. Because starting Excel in safe mode will run it without encountering some programs.

Follow these steps to see how to open a file in safe mode.


  • First of all, press Win+R on your keyboard to open the Run command dialog box.
  • Then, type in Excel /safe in the field and click on OK.

excel files opening as read only

This will open Excel in safe mode. Now try opening the file which is opening in read only mode.

Solution 7: Disable Add-ins

Sometimes having a broken add-in will not let your Excel boot up properly. When you open the file with an explorer directly Excel skips the error box it is supposed to show when you have a broken add-in. Instead, Excel keeps opening the files as read only.

Follow these steps to find and disable broken add-ins that can cause the problem.


  • First of all, you need to start Excel in safe mode. For that, open the Run dialog box by pressing Win+R on your keyboard.
  • Then write down Excel /safe in the field and click on OK.

excel files opening as read only

  • After that open Excel and go to the File tab on the ribbon.
  • Then click on Options from the left side of the preview panel.

  • After that, go to the Add-ins tab in Excel Options.
  • Now, select COM Add-ins in the Manage field and click on Go.

excel files opening as read only

  • After that, uncheck all of the options in the COM Add-ins box and click on OK.

Now try reopening the file. If it opens fine, then repeat the process for one box checked at a time and find the one. Thus you can identify which one checked in is causing the file to open as read only. Then uncheck it for the rest of the operation and you are good to go.

Solution 8: Change File Location

Excel files may open as read only for the location of it. If it is in a network location where you don’t have editing access it will be only read only for you. In a spreadsheet stored in an external storage location like CD or DVD, or USB storage, the Excel file will keep opening as read only. To fix this, all you need to do is change the location of the file. This simple trick will help you edit the file later on.

Read More: [Fixed!] Excel Files Open as Read Only from Network (8 Quick Solutions)

Solution 9: Install Office Updates

If you have an activated version of Microsoft office and don’t have any of the solutions stated above, this may be caused by some kind of bug or error. In this case, all you can do is install the office updates. These updates focus on removing bugs so you can have a better experience. Install latest updates and keeping up to date with them is an easy way to eliminate this error.

Solution 10: Repair Microsoft Office Applications

If all of the above solutions aren’t working for you, try repairing the Microsoft Office. Some people have found the particular problem solved in their case. To repair Microsoft Office follow these steps.


  • First of all, go to Settings by clicking on the windows icon on the bottom-left of your screen.
  • Then select Apps.

  • After that, select Apps & Features from the left side of the window.

  • Now scroll down on the left and find Microsoft 365 or the one you are using.
  • Then select Modify under it.

excel files opening as read only

  • Now select Quick Repair or Online Repair depending on the one you prefer.
  • Finally, click on Repair.

excel files opening as read only

This will repair Microsoft Office applications for you. if the problem was caused by some undetectable changes, it may resolve the issue in some cases.

Solution 11: Change File Format

In some cases, there could be some untraceable changes in settings in Microsoft Office or windows. Some of these changes can make files with particular extensions to be opened in read only mode. As Excel has different file extensions to work with, try changing the extensions to .xlsx or .xls or .csv and see if Excel files are still opening as read only.

Solution 12: Uncheck Read-Only Recommended

The file could be already saved as a read only recommended file. What you can do in this is save it again by unchecking the read only recommended option. Follow these steps to see how to do that.


  • In the Excel file, select the File tab in your ribbon.
  • Then select Save As from the left of the preview window.

  • After that, in the Save As box select Tools from the bottom of it.
  • Then select General Options from the drop-down menu.

excel files opening as read only

  • Now, in the General Options box uncheck the Read-only recommended option.

excel files opening as read only

  • After that click on OK and then save the file.

This will save the file as not a read only recommended file. Try opening the saved Excel file and see if it opens as read only now.

Solution 13: Check for Latest Windows Updates

There can be problems regarding even the OS you are using. The operating system, especially Windows can have some conflicts with Excel or other Office applications which may result in the files opening as read only and not writable ones. But if such issues occur in windows, they usually issue a patch to solve the problem. So keeping up to date with windows sometimes helps you not only to avoid this problem but also other runtime issues.


These were different solutions for Excel files opening as read only. If your file is still opening in read only mode, there is a chance that it might be corrupted. But before reaching any decisions, try out all of the steps. And if it still doesn’t work, it might be time to contact Microsoft support.

Hopefully, one of these solutions has resolved your problems. If not, you can let us know your problem in detail below. For more guides like these, visit ExcelDemy.com.

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Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy

Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy

Hi! my name is Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy. I have completed B.Sc. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. I have found my calling, if you like, in Data Science and Machine Learning and in pursuing so, I have realized the importance of Data Analysis. And Excel is one excel-lent tool do so. I am always trying to learn everyday, and trying to share here what I am learning.

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