Unlock a file that has been locked for editing

When you try to open a Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation, or Word document on your mobile device, you might receive a message stating that the file is locked for editing by another user. Typically, you will be able to open the file as read-only, but you won’t be able to edit it.

The file might be locked because:

  • The file is shared and another user is currently editing it.

  • An instance of the Office app is running in the background with the file already opened.

  • The file has been marked as Final and can no longer be updated.

In some situations, you can use your mobile device to unlock the file and continue editing it.

Note: If the Office file is password-protected, you won’t be able to open it without supplying the password. There is no way to circumvent password protection.

Another user is editing the file

If someone is currently working on the file, you can either wait for that person to close it, or you can create a copy of the file and enter your changes in the copy. (Alternatively, you could switch to an app that allows multiple authors to work on a file simultaneously.)

Use the following procedures to create a copy on your mobile device.

Tip: If you choose to enter your changes in a copy, it’s a good idea to use tracked changes so that you can easily move your changes to the shared file when it becomes available. You can turn on tracked changes on the Review tab.

  1. Open the file.

  2. Tap File on your Android tablet or tap the file icon File icon on your Android phone.

  3. On the File tab, tap Save As.

  4. Choose a location for the new file, give it a name, and then tap Save.

  1. Open the file.

  2. Tap the file icon File icon .

  3. On your iPad, tap Name or Duplicate. The Save As window opens. If you have any pending changes, you will be asked whether you want to apply them to the both the original and duplicate copy or the duplicate copy only. Make your selection.

  4. Type a new name for the file and choose a storage location for the new file. On your iPhone, use the backspace key to delete the current name, and then enter the new one.

  5. Tap Save or tap Duplicate.

  1. Open the file.

  2. Tap File on your Windows tablet or tap the file icon File icon on your Windows phone.

  3. Tap Save.

  4. Tap Save a copy of this file.

  5. On your tablet, give the copy a name, choose a location for the new file, and then tap Save a copy. On your phone, browse to the location where you want to save the file, tap the right arrow Right arrow , enter a file name, and then tap the Save icon Save icon .

The Office app is running in the background

If the file is not shared on a network or if you are certain that no one is currently editing it, then an instance of the Office app with the file open might be running in the background.

Open the multitasking screen, touch the Office app, and then swipe to the left or right. This will close the app and any running processes associated with it.

If for some reason the app is unresponsive and can’t be closed, you can close it from the Settings app.

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

    Settings app

  2. Tap Apps.

  3. In the upper-right corner, tap Running.

  4. Tap the app.

  5. Scroll down and tap Force Stop or Stop.

    Force stop

  6. You will see a confirmation message. Tap OK.

    Confirm force quit

  7. Open the multitasking screen. If the Office app still appears, touch the app icon, and then swipe to the left or right to close it.

Double-tap the Home button, touch the app, and then swipe up. This will close the app and any running processes associated with it.

If for some reason the app is unresponsive and can’t be closed, you can force it to close.

  1. Hold down the power button.

  2. When the slide to power off screen appears, release the power button.

  3. Press the Home button until the app quits. (It will quit after a few seconds.)

  4. Double-tap the Home button. If the app still appears to be open, touch the app icon, and then swipe up.

On your tablet:

  1. Press and hold the Windows logo key on the lower-left corner of your screen.

    Windows logo key

  2. Tap Task Manager.

    Task Manager

  3. Look for instances of the Office app, select each instance, and then tap End task to close it.

    End task

On your Windows phone:

  1. Press and hold the back arrow on the bottom of your screen. You will see the apps that are currently running on your device.

  2. Close the Office app by tapping the x in the upper-right corner of the app.

The file is marked as Final

Office 2016 includes a file protection feature that allows authors to mark a file as Final. This locks the file, preventing any further editing. You can easily turn off this feature in the Office 2016 applications; however, you can’t turn it off from your mobile device. If an Office file is marked Final, you will need to make a copy to enter your changes from your mobile device.

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