How to Turn Off Editing in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

November 28, 2023 2.3K views

Collaborative editing brings the risk of unintended overwrites. This tutorial teaches you how to disable editing in Word to secure documents. Methods to deactivate functions like co-authoring, track changes, and open access permissions will help you lock files into read-only formats. Follow simple step-by-step instructions to turn off editing in Microsoft Word.

Why Restrict Editing in Word?

Microsoft Word allows real-time co-authoring and tracking changes between multiple collaborators. While this facilitates teamwork, open editing access can risk unauthorized, unintended, or detrimental document modifications if not properly controlled.

Here are some common scenarios where restricting Word document editing is necessary:

  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Financial, medical, or legal Word documents may need read-only access to comply with privacy, security, or data integrity regulations.

  • Avoid Unintentional Edits: Enabling read-only mode prevents accidental edits, ensuring the document stays in the desired approved final state.

  • Limit Access: Edit lock-downs allow document owners to set editing permissions, blocking unapproved personnel from making changes.

  • Preserve Version History: Free editing can overwrite previous versions. Restricting access preserves document state and edits tracking data for audit purposes.

Effectively safeguarding sensitive documents often involves various strategies, and toggling edit capabilities in Word is invaluable. This approach safeguards sensitive information and streamlines document management processes, fostering a secure and organized work environment.

How to Disable and Enable Editing in Word (Read-Only Mode)

How to enable Read-Only Mode

To enable read-only mode in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open your Word document.

Step 2: Go to File > Info > Protect Document.

Step 3: From the Protect Document menu, select “Always Open Read-Only”.

Step 4: Save the document, close it, and reopen it.

Word will display a message asking if you want to open the document in read-only mode. Click "Yes" to open the document with read-only access. To remove the read-only restriction, open the document in edit mode, go to File > Info > Protect Document, and then select "Always Open Read-Only." Save the document, and it will no longer be in read-only mode.

How to Restrict Editing in Word

This method enables you to prevent others from modifying your document. Additionally, you can set a password to enhance security.

Step 1: Click the “Review” tab.

Step 2: Select “Restrict Editing”.

Step 3: Check the box under “Editing Restrictions”.

Step 4: Choose “No changes (Read Only)”.

You can grant editing access to specific people by adding them to the “Exceptions” list.

Optionally, set a password for enhanced security. To create a password, click “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection”.

Enter your password and confirm it, then click on “OK” to proceed.


  • Password-protecting the document adds an extra layer of edit protection.

  • Restricting permissions narrowly targets those who can override read-only status.

Many often use read-only mode when emailing important documents to avoid unintended overwrites. This mode provides a handy safeguard if recipients accidentally hit “Save” instead of “Save As”.

How to Enable Editing in Word

To unlock a protected document:

Step 1: On the “Review” tab, click “Restrict Editing” in the Protect group.

Step 2: In the Restrict Editing task pane, click “Stop Protection”.

Step 3: If prompted for a password, enter it.

After unlocking, you can make changes based on the permissions granted by the document owner. If you encounter restrictions, use the Restrict Editing task pane to find regions where you have permission to edit.

How to Restrict Format and Content Editing in Word

Sometimes, you may only want to lock down specific aspects of editing rather than completely disabling access. Word provides advanced options to control formatting vs. selective content changes.

Restrict Format Editing

To restrict formatting changes in Word, follow these steps:

Step 1: Follow the previous section to access the Restrict Editing task pane.

Step 2: Check the box under “Formatting Restrictions”.

Step 3: To customize the limitation, Click “Settings…” under the checkbox.

Step 4: In the pop-up window, limit formatting options as needed.

Step 5: Click “OK”.

By doing this, you've successfully restricted formatting changes in your Word document, allowing you to control the specific formatting options available for editing.

Restrict Content Editing

Under the Editing Restrictions panel, check the box next to “Allow only this type of editing in the document”.

Then, choose from the following options in the drop-down menu:

  • Tracked changes: Enables Track Changes in the document and restricts other types of editing.

  • Comments: Allows readers to insert comments without making modifications.

  • Filling in forms: Permits readers to fill in forms but not change the form content.

  • No changes (Read only): Puts the document in read-only mode, preventing any changes.

If you selected “Comments” or “No changes (Read only)”, you can create exceptions by checking the box for "Everyone" in the Exceptions section. Select the parts of the document that you want to remain editable.

How to Turn Off Track Changes in Word

Track changes enable collaboration by showing edit history - but retaining excessive revisions can clutter documents. Here is how to clear and turn off tracked changes.

Open your document, go to the “Review” tab, and click the “Track Changes” button to turn off tracking in the Tracking group.

If the button is grayed out, enter the password used to lock the document. If you can't click "Track Changes," the author may have locked the feature.

Step 1: Obtain the password, click "Tracking" > "Lock Tracking," enter the password, and then select "OK."

Step 2: Finally, select Review > Track Changes to disable the feature.


  • To print without tracked changes, click File > Print > Print All Pages and disable "Print Markup" in the menu.

Best Free Alternative to Microsoft Office - WPS Office

What Is WPS Office?

Tired of paying ongoing subscription fees to use Microsoft Office? WPS Office is a free alternative that is full-featured and available on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

With over 200 million users worldwide, WPS Office is a reliable option for opening DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX files. It seamlessly switches between devices like desktops, tablets, and phones with the added benefit of cloud support. Here are some of its key features:

  • Completely free to use with no limits

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  • Works across Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

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Most importantly, WPS Office prioritizes edit protection, permissions, and access controls to prevent version history loss or privacy leaks. WPS Office prioritizes the security of your documents and data through robust features. Here are key security features in WPS Office:

  • Encryption: WPS Office offers strong encryption options for file protection, including password-based access. This is especially useful for handling sensitive or confidential data.

  • Secure Sharing: WPS Office provides secure file-sharing options with precise access control to prevent unauthorized distribution of sensitive content.

  • Automatic Backups: WPS Office automatically backs up your work every minute to prevent data loss from power outages or system crashes.

  • Offline Installer: WPS Office provides an offline installer for users concerned about the security of online installations. This means you can install the suite without requiring a stable internet connection, safeguarding the integrity of your installation process.

These security features collectively contribute to making WPS Office a secure and reliable choice for an office productivity suite, ensuring the protection of your sensitive documents and data.


What should I do if I forget to turn off editing in Word?

If you forget to turn off editing, review the document's version history, locate the desired version before edits, and restore it.

Is collaborative editing secure in Microsoft Word?

Word provides security features like password protection, user permissions, and encryption to ensure privacy and integrity during collaborative workflows. Restrict edit access to trusted parties only.


To preserve document integrity and compliance, toggle off editing access in Microsoft Word. Use read-only view, content/format locking, or hide tracked changes to block unintended overwrites. WPS Office is a free, full-featured alternative that offers robust edit protection across desktop, mobile, and cloud platforms, streamlining collaboration while strengthening information security.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.