Excel file is locked out for editing to another user

You are trying to open an Excel file and you get: “File in Use: File is locked for editing by another user.” Sometimes the file is locked by another user, and other times the "another user" is actually you. If you have locked the file yourself, it might be because the file is open on a different device, or the previous instance of the file didn't close properly.

Make sure the file is closed on all your devices. If the error still occurs, wait a few minutes for the server to release the lock on the file. (Sometimes the server thinks you have the file open, and just needs to catch up with what’s really going on.)

If the other user is not you, you can wait until the other person is done and has closed the file. You can also choose to view it as read-only. Or, you can ask the person to close the file, check it in, or give you edit permissions.

If you want to work on the file at the same time as other people, then make sure everyone uses a version of Excel that supports co-authoring. When you co-author, more than one person can open the file, and you can see each other's changes quickly — in a matter of seconds.

Versions of Excel that support co-authoring:

  • Excel 2016 for Windows*

  • Excel 2016 for Mac*

  • Excel Online

  • Excel for Android

  • Excel for iOS

  • Excel Mobile

* Co-authoring in this version requires the latest version of Excel installed, and requires you to sign in to Office with an Office 365 subscription account. Please note that if you have a work or school account, your administrator may control which version of Office you can install, and it may not be the latest version. See When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365? for more information.

If just one person uses a version of Excel that doesn't support co-authoring, then everyone else will get the "locked" error — even if everyone else is using a version of Excel that does support co-authoring.

If people aren’t sure which version of the app they have, then encourage everyone to use Excel Online to co-author in a web browser.

If you want to avoid the error by co-authoring with others, put the file on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint. If the file is saved to another location that doesn’t support co-authoring, people will get the “locked” error. The following locations do not support co-authoring:

  • Server paths like \\server\folder and smb://server/folder

  • Cloud locations like DropBox, Box, and Google Drive

  • Local folders on your Windows or Mac computer

  • Libraries on SharePoint On-Premises sites. If you have an on-premises site and Excel 2016, try using Excel Online to co-author instead.

For Windows: If you are trying to co-author, check the file name of the file and make sure it is in either .xlsx, .xlsm, or .xlsb format. If the file is in another format, go to File > Save As > Browse > Save as type and choose the .xlsx, .xlsm, or .xlsb format.

For Mac: If you are trying to co-author, check the file name of the file and make sure it is in either .xlsx, .xlsm, or .xlsb format. If the file is in another format, go to File > Save As... and choose the .xlsx, .xlsm, or .xlsb format.

If you are using the OneDrive sync client for Windows, make sure you are using the latest version. Also, make sure the sync client is not paused.

If you are trying to co-author, the “locked” error can occur if the file uses a feature that is not supported by co-authoring. Ask the person who has the file open to do one or more of the following. The first thing to try is to turn off the Shared Workbook feature. Also, if you are opening a snapshot from SharePoint, open the workbook itself instead. If those two solutions don't work, try one or more of the following.

Windows:

  • If possible, remove password encryption or restricted access from the file. Go to File > Info > Protect Workbook and remove any passwords or restricted access settings.

  • Turn off the Refresh data when opening file setting on all tables and PivotTables in the file. Select the table or PivotTable, then go to Table Tools Design > Refresh > Connection Properties. Then uncheck Refresh data when opening file.

  • Inactivate an add-in that's causing the lock. Select File > Options > Add-Ins > Excel Add-ins > Go and then clear the check box for the add-in.

Mac:

  • If possible, remove password encryption from the file. To do that, go to the Review tab. If Protect Workbook is highlighted, click it to turn off protection. Enter the password if prompted.

  • If possible, remove restricted access. Go to File > Restrict Permissions > No Restrictions.

  • Turn off the Refresh data when opening file setting on all tables and PivotTables in the file. Select the table or PivotTable, then go to the Table tab > Refresh > Connection Properties. Then uncheck Refresh data when opening file.

  • Inactivate an add-in that's causing the lock. Select Tools > Excel Add-ins and then clear the check box for the add-in.

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