Looking at an open MS Word document on your computer that’s password locked and unsure what to do?
You’ve come to the right place.
Removing a password from a Word document is mostly a straightforward process.
For the most part, it depends on the type of password-locked the document is.
Then, if you know the original password (whether you made the document or your colleague told you the password), you can easily remove the password from the document.
But what happens if you forget your password or have no access to where it is written?
In that case, removing a password from the original Word document might be harder.
But don’t worry. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about password protecting Word documents and what to do, whether you know the password or not.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- 2 Ways Word Documents Can Be Password Locked (Type of Locks)
- How to Remove Document Lock Password From A Word File When You Know The Password
- 6 Ways To Remove A Password From a Word Document When You Don’t Know the Password
- Method 1. Use a Word Document Password Remover
- Method 2. Rename the Locked Word File
- Method 3. Change the Word File Text Format To RTF
- Method 4. Use Wordpad To Save The Document
- Method 5. Save The Word Document As A New File
- Method 6. Remove Word Document Password Online
2 Ways Word Documents Can Be Password Locked (Type of Locks)
Before removing the password protection on a document, you should know what type of restriction was placed on it. There are two primary ways a Word document can be locked.
A Word document can be locked with a full document lock and a read-only protection.
Here’s what this means.
Full document Lock
After saving a document and you add a password to it by using the Protect Document option, it means you added the complete document protection. This protection prevents external users from viewing and editing if they do not have the password.
If you do have the password though, you can easily remove the full document lock from the Word document. We’ll cover how to remove a full document lock if you know the password below.
For example, your colleague sends you a Word file with a full document lock and the noted password. If you don’t want to have to write the password each time you open the file, you can simply remove the lock for that document on your computer.
When you save a document with a read-only lock, this means other users can read the Word document but they can’t edit it.
In other words, the user can still open the document to view it, but they cannot alter its content.
The protection you add will depend on why you want to lock the document. This article focuses on how to open a full document lock.
Now, let’s take a look at how to remove each kind of password protection from your Word documents.
How to Remove Document Lock Password From A Word File When You Know The Password
If you do not want to keep entering the password to a locked Word document every time you open the document, follow these simple steps:
- Open the locked Word document.
- Input the Password.
- Click on File > Info > Protect document > Encrypt with Password.
- It will show the password box, clear the password and select Ok.
6 Ways To Remove A Password From a Word Document When You Don’t Know the Password
When unlocking a document without the password, you can either remove the password to view the file or edit the document depending on the form of password protection added to the document.
Now, here’s a disclaimer:
If you don’t know the password to a document, chances are, you might not be authorized to view it.
However, if you simply forgot the password and/or you can’t get it from your colleague for some reason, here are a couple of potential methods you can use to “unlock” the password-secured Word doc.
Method 1. Use a Word Document Password Remover
A password remover will help you unlock your document within a few minutes. These are a few reliable password removers to use
- Passfab - Removes password from a locked Word document by using a brute force attack on it. In other words, it’ll try to “guess” the password for you.
- Passper Word Password remover - Uses advanced technology to get the document's password and unlock it.
- GuaWord - Does not attack the locked document; instead, it decrypts the password and attempts to unlock the document that way.
You can use many more password removers, and they all have their strengths. You can download the one suitable for your use. After downloading any of the passwords removers, follow these steps to use;
- Open the password remover on your computer.
- Click on Remove restrictions.
- Click on the + sign to add the locked document.
- After it has been added, select Remove, and the document will be unlocked.
The new document will be without a password or restriction.
Keep in mind this is not a guaranteed way to unlock a Word document and you should NOT be attempting to unlock documents you’re not authorized to view.
Method 2. Rename the Locked Word File
You can remove the password from a locked document by renaming the document. Even though the process is a bit complicated, you can attempt it this way:
- Open the locked document’s file location.
- Change the name of the document from .doc or .docx to .zip
3. After it has been modified to a zip file, open the zip file with Windows Explorer.
4. In the resulting folder, you will find a file with the title setting.xml; delete this file.
5. You can then change the folder's name back to .doc or Docx.
6. The file will be open to view and edit.
Method 3. Change the Word File Text Format To RTF
If the Word document was locked to prevent editing, changing the text format to Rich Text format can possibly remove the password. However, this can only work if you are using Microsoft Office Pro 2010.
Here’s how you can attempt this method:
- Open your locked document with Microsoft Office pro.
- Click on Save as type and change it to Rich Text Format (.rtf).
- Click on save.
4. Open the newly saved document with Notepad.
5. Press Ctrl + F, and it will bring a Find tab.
6. Type in ‘passwordhash’ and change it to no password.
7. Click on Save.
8. Open the new file with Microsoft Word.
9. After the file is opened in Microsoft Word, click on Review Tab>Restrict editing> Stop protection and untick all the boxes by the right.
Finally, the password should be removed, and you can then change the file format back to .doc or .docx.
Method 4. Use Wordpad To Save The Document
You can also use Wordpad to edit a locked document, but you should make a copy of the document in case you experience data loss.
Here are the steps:
- Right-click on the locked file you want to unlock, click on Open with, and select Wordpad from the options shown.
- The document will be opened on Wordpad, and you can make the necessary edits.
- Click on Save changes; Wordpad will warn that some of the content that can’t be displayed will be lost; click on Save, or you can save a copy just in case.
Try opening the Word doc after.
If this method didn’t work however, you can also try the following:
Method 5. Save The Word Document As A New File
This technique can only be used if the document is protected by a password to modify. If you want to edit without the password, follow these steps:
Click on the locked document to open it in MS Word, and a box will pop out for you to enter the password. Click on the Read-only Option.
- When the document opens, click on file> Save as.
- In the resulting pop-out box, change the file name and save it.
- The newly saved file should then be viewable and editable.
Keep in mind this only works if you can open your Word doc with read-only.
Method 6. Remove Word Document Password Online
Finally, if all else fails, you can attempt removing your Word doc password online.
An online website that offers password removal will allow you to view and edit the locked document.
You can get this feature for free on some of these online websites we’ve covered above (Passfab, Passper Word Password remover, GuaWord, etc.).
But there are quite a few similar tools that offer this service. They can also attempt to unlock different document formats like DOC, PDF, ODT, DOTX, and so on.
The process will most likely involve uploading your document to their site and letting their tool do all the work.
However, keep in mind that uploading an important, confidential work document to a strange password-remover website is not the best privacy and safety practice. Additionally, we cannot comment on the safety of these tools.
Attempt to do so only after doing your own research, if you’re authorized to view the document in the first place, and there is no other way to unlock the document (i.e. password on a sticky note, from a colleague, etc.).
To sum up, if a document is locked, there must be a good reason for that. So, if a document is not yours, you should seek permission from the owner to prevent infringement of their rights and privacy and avoid being sued.
If there's a read-only lock or a full-document lock, you can simply remove the added security from your computer for added convenience.
But if for one reason or another you somehow forgot the password and you can’t find it anywhere else, you can attempt using the above methods to unlock it. Even then, you might lose some data or content.
So, the next time you’re dealing with password-locked documents, make sure you exercise caution and follow the best safety practices!