How to Unlock a Word Document
You can protect documents in Word with a password, but what if you forget? Here’s how to unlock a Word document with or without the password.
Microsoft Word allows you to protect your document with a password. You can opt to lock the entire document so that it won’t open without the correct password. If you prefer, you can lock the document for editing, so that anyone can open it, but only people with the password can unlock the Word document to make changes.
Once you lock a document, how do you unlock it again? And if you forget the password, is there anything you can do?
If you want 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 that people can read the file, but can’t edit it without a password.
If the entire document is locked, but you know the password, you can unlock the file quickly and easily.
To unlock a Word document with the password:
- Double-click the Word file as you would open any unlocked document.
- Enter the password in the pop-up window that appears.
- If you typed the correct password, the file will open as normal.
If you no longer wish to lock the Word document, you can remove the password so that it will open as normal in the future.
To remove password protection from a Word file:
- Open the file using the instructions above.
- Click File.
- Select Info.
- Click the Protect Document icon.
- Select Encrypt With Password.
- Delete the current password from the password field and click OK.
- 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 to read, but require a password to edit it, you can turn off the document protection as long as you know the password.
To unlock a Word document for editing:
- Open the document.
- Click the Review menu.
- If you cannot see the Restrict Editing icon in the ribbon, click Protect.
- Select Restrict Editing.
- Click Stop Protection.
- Enter the password in the pop-up window and click OK.
- The document can now be edited.
- 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, then it’s possible to use some workarounds to create a new Word document that you can edit, even if you don’t know or can’t remember the password.
How to Unlock a Document for Editing Using Google Docs
It’s possible to upload the document into Google Docs. You can then edit the document directly in Google Docs or export it back as a Word document that will now be editable.
To unlock a Word docUMENT using Google Docs:
- Open Google Docs in a browser and sign in.
- Click the Folder icon.
- Select Upload.
- Click Browse and select the file you want to open or drag it directly into the Google Docs window.
- The file will open. You can edit in Google Docs and make any changes you wish.
- Alternatively, to save the file as a new Word document, click the File menu.
- Hover over Download and select Microsoft Word (.docx).
- The file will download. 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 using WordPad, a basic word-processing app included with Windows.
To unlock a Word doc using WordPad:
- Click the Windows Search icon.
- Type WordPad and click the app in the results.
- Select File > Open and then select the locked file you want to open.
- Click Open and the Word document will open in WordPad.
- Edit the document in WordPad or click File > Save As > Office Open XML Document.
- Name the file and click Save, and the file will save 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, then the methods above won’t work as you won’t be able to open the Word document at all. In this case, your only real option is to try to crack the password.
There are websites and apps that can attempt to do this for you which can be found through a web search, but you are advised to use these 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’re locked with a password. As we’ve seen, locking Word documents won’t necessarily keep them fully protected.
There are other ways to protect your files, however. You could try using the Personal Vault on Microsoft OneDrive to keep your cloud files encrypted. It’s 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.