How to Unlock Selection in Word Document [5 Easy Ways 2024]

Written By Farhan Max

Microsoft Word in the Office suite is the most downloaded document-processing software you can use on any computer. It has many users because of its ease of use, accessibility, and, most importantly, its ability to outperform competing applications at the advanced level.

There are a few flaws, though. For instance, when you open a new Word document, it denies you access when you try to modify it saying, “You can’t make changes because the selection is locked.” That’s horrible when you can’t modify the file in Word.


This article is about resolving that selection error for Word documents. Read till the end to solve the Microsoft Word selection is locked problem.

Let’s begin.

Why is my Selection Locked in Microsoft Word?

Using an unactivated version of Microsoft Office is the main reason behind the word selection is locked error. Also, opening a protected document and windows bugs can trigger the issue. However, if the content controlled can’t be deleted option is enabled, you might face this error.

Moreover, issues in the document’s metadata significantly impact access to editing permission.

Microsoft Word doesn’t allow any changes if the document is configured as restricted editing. Then you’ll get an error message You can’t make this change because the selection is locked, or This modification isn’t allowed because this section is opened for viewing only.cant-make-change


That irritating message won’t move out from your screen unless you change something on your computer. You might ask what can be adjusted to get rid of that issue.

Read the following chapter and act accordingly to find out the solutions.

Here’s a complete guide on how to set background image on MS Word.

How to Unlock Selection in Microsoft Word

Unlocking a locked Word document is comparatively simple. You just need to open the document in Microsoft Word updated version. Press Ctrl + Shift + F11 simultaneously; after that, you can edit the file. Also, press Ctrl + Shift + Fn + F11 if you’re using a laptop.

The described method is a generalized way to unlock Word documents.

In case that method didn’t go well for you, following the subsequent techniques will. After reading this section, opening a locked document for editing won’t be difficult.

When a document is marked as final, a message will appear on the top in a yellow bar. It is often used with Word documents that carry vital data to prevent being tampered with by unauthorized persons.

If it was locked with a password when marking the document as final, then you can just enter the password and you’ll be able to edit when you ask for editing permission, given that you have the password. If you don’t know the password and someone else who has the password can tell you, you can still access the file.

Without the password, you won’t be able to modify the file when trying to access it.

Otherwise, simply click on Edit anyway whenever the error message appears. After that, move forward to the solutions.

Here are the methods to unlock Selection in MS Word: 

1. Disable Restrict Editing

If the document you’re trying to make changes to appears restricted, you can disable the restriction mode from the Word client.

Follow the steps here to disable Restrict Editing in Word:

  • Launch the Word client from your desktop.
  • Click on File and go to Info from the left
  • Open the Protect Document drop-down menu and select Restrict Editing.restrict-editing
  • Locate the Stop protection button on the right side of the display and click on it.stop-protection

Note: If the original owner of the file makes it password protected, make sure you retrieve the password to disable the restriction.

Also, check out our separate post on how to make only one page landscape in Word.

2. Update Microsoft Application

One of the possible reasons behind this locked selection problem in Word is using an outdated Microsoft application. Update the application from time to time to unlock a selection in Word.

Here are the steps to update Microsoft Word:

  • Launch Word from your desktop.
  • Move to the File tab and click on Account.
  • Click on Office Updates drop-down menu.
  • Select update now from the menu.update-now

Microsoft will check whether you need an update or not. After downloading the update, Microsoft will install it automatically.

Check out the easiest way to enable equation editor in Microsoft Word.

3. Activate Office

Using the trial version of MS office sometimes leads you to this issue. Activating the Office application can retrieve you from this misery.

Here’s the procedure to activate Microsoft Word: 

  • Open Microsoft Word from your device.
  • Navigate to File > Options from your dashboard.
  • Select Activate on that window.
  • Log in with your Microsoft account and provide valid product keys.

That will activate Microsoft Word. Check if you are still unable to edit the Word document. Try out the following solutions in case these methods couldn’t resolve your issue.

4. Modify the Document’s Properties

As explained earlier, when the document’s meta properties isn’t set well, you are likely to face the locked mode in MS Word. Modify the document’s properties to resolve the issue.

Here’s the procedure to modify document metadata:

  • Open the document in Microsoft Word.
  • Navigate to File > Info.
  • Click on properties from the right side of the display.
  • Select Advanced properties and move to the Summary tab.advanced-properties
  • Modify the title, subject, and other information that you want to change.summary

Click Ok after editing that information. Once you’re done, relaunch Word and check whether you can carry on with editing without any problem.

Quickly check out our epic guide on how to enable word wrap in notepad.

5. Repair Office Application

In case the aforementioned solutions couldn’t resolve your issue, there are chances that your office application is broken somehow. Repairing the application might solve the case.

Here’s the procedure to quickly repair your Office application:

  • Launch Windows settings by pressing Windows + I keys together.
  • Navigate to Apps > Apps & Features.apps-features
  • Locate Microsoft Office in the list.
  • Click on the three dots beside the app and select modify.modify
  • Select Quick repair in the next Window.quick-repair
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the task.

You will be able to unlock the selection and apply changes in Word once you complete these tweaks. These are the solutions that I personally implement whenever I find the selection is locked errors in Word.

Have any queries regarding this matter? Continue reading the following section to get answers to your questions.

Quickly check out our epic guide on why can’t I copy paste in Microsoft Word.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I unlock a locked selection in Word?

Go to the review tab in MS Word > Click on Unprotect document > save the file.

Can’t type on Word because the selection is locked?

When a document is locked in Word, open the problematic Word document > Click on edit anyway in the marked as final section > edit the document.

How do I enable editing in Word?

If a document has been marked as final, navigate to File > Info > Protect Document > Enable Editing.

How to Unlock a Selection in Microsoft Word?

Press Ctrl + Shift + F11 on the desktop word client. In terms of laptops, press Ctrl + Shift + Fn +F11 synchronously.

Final Remarks

Microsoft Word isn’t free from hassling issues even though the application is widely acceptable. Maybe a file was locked to protect sensitive information from being modified by unauthorized users.

So, whenever you encounter you can’t edit Word because the selection is locked in a Word file, don’t hesitate to read this article once again and follow my instructions as well if you need to unlock a doc file.

In case you can’t make any changes to your file even after that, just write down the specific problem in the comment box. My team will reach out to help you with the precise solution. Till then, peace!

About The Author
Farhan Max is a tech geek with a particular interest in computer hardware. He's been fascinated by gaming since childhood and is now completing his undergraduate studies while researching and testing the latest tech innovations. Alongside his love for all things geeky, Farhan is also a skilled photographer.


  1. I tried every one of your solutions and I still cannot change certain parts of my document but I can others. I am the creator and I know the password, so that is not the issue. I have attempted to copy/paste the other portions of the document to a new document but it makes the document come out as 2 pages, the 2nd one blank. I am unable to rid myself of the 2nd page.

    Man, this is frustrating.


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