How to Unlock a Password-Protected Word Document

Get back to work on that doc

How to lock or unlock a Word document.

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Microsoft Word offers different levels of protection that can be applied to your documents, allowing you to dictate whether or not someone else can edit the content or open the document. This is done by locking documents with a password and configuring various protection settings based on your individual needs.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.

How to Lock a Word Document in Windows

Lock your document using password protection functionality in Word.

The password is not recoverable, so store it somewhere safe.

  1. Open the Word document you wish to protect.

  2. Select the File tab, located in the upper-left corner, then select Info from the left menu pane.

    The Info tab in Word
  3. Select Protect Document. A drop-down menu will appear containing several options.

    Protect Document button in Word
  4. Select Encrypt with Password.

    Encrypt with Password button in Word
  5. In the Encrypt Document dialog box, enter a password.

    This password is required whenever anyone attempts to open the document going forward.

    Password field in Word
  6. Select OK.

    Password entry in Word with the OK button highlighted
  7. When prompted, enter the password again and select OK. A message appears in the Protect Document section stating a password is required to open this document.

How to Lock a Word Document in macOS

Follow the directions below to lock your document using the password protection functionality in macOS.

  1. Open the Word document that you wish to protect.

  2. Select the Review tab, located near the top of the Word interface.

    Review tab in Word for Mac
  3. Select Protect Document.

    Protect Document in Word for Mac
  4. In the Password Protect dialog box, go to the Set a password to open this document text box and enter a password.

    Security window in Word for Mac with the Set a password to open this document field highlighted
  5. Re-enter the password to confirm it and click OK.

    Password confirmation in Word for Mac with the OK button highlighted

How to Add Restrictions to a Word Document in Windows

In addition to locking a Word document with a password, you can apply additional restrictions that control the specific types of edits other users can make. This is helpful if you want to provide others access to the document and want to limit certain changes to the document's content.

  1. Select the Review tab.

    Review tab in Word
  2. In the Protect group, select Restrict Editing.

    Restrict Editing button in Word
  3. The Restrict Editing pane appears on the right side of the screen and contains configurable formatting and editing restrictions. These include the ability to only allow comments, tracked changes, or form entries within the document. You can also limit formatting to a specific set of styles (for example, HTML only).

    Screenshot of Restrict Editing pane
  4. Additionally, you can select specific regions of your document to only allow designated groups to edit them while restricting changes to all other users.

  5. Select the X in the upper-right corner of the Restrict Editing interface once you're satisfied with your settings.

    Restrict Editing menu in Word with the X highlighted

How to Add Restrictions on macOS

The restrictions differ slightly in Word for Mac.

  1. Select the Review tab, located towards the top of the Word interface.

    Review tab in Word for Mac
  2. Select Protect Document.

    Protect Document in Word for Mac
  3. In the Password Protect dialog box, go to the Protection section and select the Protect document for check box.

    Password Protect window in Word with the Protect Document For checkbox highlighted
  4. Choose one of the following options:

    • Tracked changes
    • Comments
    • Read only
    • Forms
  5. Select the Privacy check box if you want to remove personal information when the file is saved.

    Privacy box in the Password Protect window in Word
  6. Click OK once satisfied with your settings.

    Password Protect window in Word with the OK button highlighted

How to Remove a Password From a Word Document

If you've previously locked a Word document, removing its password protection restriction is a fairly simple process, provided you're signed in as the document owner. Depending on your platform, repeat the steps in the respective tutorial above until you've returned to the Protect Document button. 

For Windows

  1. Select the File tab and choose Info.

  2. Select Protect Document.

    Protect Document button in Word
  3. Select Encrypt with Password.

    Encrypt with Password button in Word
  4. Remove the password from the field provided.

    Password field in Word
  5. Select OK to unlock the document.

    Password entry in Word with the OK button highlighted

For macOS

  1. Go to the Review tab and select Protect Document.

    Protect Document in Word for Mac
  2. Remove the password or passwords from the fields provided.

    Security window in Word for Mac with the Set a password to open this document field highlighted
  3. Click OK to unlock the document.

While these features are not available in Word Online, you can control who you share your documents with as well as whether or not they have edit access to said documents.