How to unlock a Microsoft Word Document [Step-by-step][Solved]

One of the most annoying things is to protect word documents and when you need to modify it.. you realise that you don’t remember the password…

Here is how you can fix this in less than 1 minute: 

1. First of all, you need to open the doc in Word. Click on “Save as” and then save it with the “.xml” extension:

2. Open this new .xml file with a text editor (Notepad, WordPad, etc.)


3. Now search (CTRL + F) for the string w:enforcement=”1″

4. Now replace the “1” with “0
5. Save the XML document
6. Open the XML document with Word
7. Click on “Save as” and save the document as docx or doc.


26 thoughts on “How to unlock a Microsoft Word Document [Step-by-step][Solved]

  1. Unknown404

    Thanks for your post it save me a lot of time.
    For the w:enforcement=”1″ it could also be “on” or “off”

  2. JRL Construction, Inc.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I am always amazed at how difficult the task seems to me, and then on-line, someone with much more knowledge than me SOLVES my very problem. I cannot express how thankful I am for your help. If I could hug you, I would.

  3. Mondo George

    What the hell is wrong with you gullible fools. If the first step is to ‘open the file in Word’, and you are able to do so, then you don’t NEED to unlock it. Duh.

    1. TQ

      Can’t tell if you’re trolling or not Mondo, but there are many cases where a document can be opened and still locked. i.e. you cannot edit all or portions of the file

  4. Tonya

    This worked perfectly!!! I’m on Windows 10 (not sure it makes a difference or not) just FYI. Took less than 1 minute. Thank you for this information.

  5. GuisBell

    Muchas gracias por la ayuda, no podía editar un documento porque estaba protegido, pero gracias a tus indicaciones logre desbloquearlo, muy eficaz, otra vez muchas gracias.

  6. Sandi

    Unfortunately this process did NOT work for my document protection issue.
    Tried it in both Notepad and Wordpad and cannot locate the w:enforcement=”1″ as recommended.

    This is the second time I have accidently locked a document. Still don’t know how it has happened, as on neither occasions I was in the protect editor area.

    Is it possible that you can accidently lock a document using a keyboard short cut.
    If so, can you tell me what it is?
    Also the document in question has 95 pages but I can now only view the first 78 pages in protect mode.
    Could really use your help on this one PLEASE!

    1. Sandi

      BTW This file is completely highlighted in GREY when I open it up, when I click on the page it simply selects text highlighting it again in BLUE

      1. Sandi

        Just discovered what was happening well after I had to retrieve a backup of the document and update it accordingly, another 3 hours wasted.

        Apparently Word 10 has this annoying habit of locking (PROTECTING) your document when you do the following:
        1. select Insert Caption
        2. select dropdown list (Figure; table; etc)

        GOTCHA …. word has just PROTECTED your document and if you haven’t seen it happen immediately it won’t let you go to Restrict Edit and undo it.

        Now that I know what is happening in this document, I am taking the precaution to copy and paste the previous Table Caption and update it. Thank you Microsoft for another week of frustration.
        Hope this helps someone else.

  7. Brian

    PERFECT SOLUITON!!!! I never leave comments, but thank you very much!!!!! Such an easy fix to such an annoying issue. You just save my company hours of work for me trying to find the originator of this document from 3 years ago.

  8. Wendeline

    This helped me a ton. If you don’t see the 1 after the word enforcement, simply type in =none. It worked for me. This is awesome. Many times you can’t edit the locked in fields of a word document. You can open it, but you can’t change locked areas. This enables you to do just that.

  9. Morons

    People, I’m sorry to say it. You are retarded.
    If a Word document is password protected there is no way in hell you can open it in the first place => can’t do anything from what is written in this post.

  10. Firdaous Nizami

    Hello All!!!

    I do have one word file with extension ‘.docx’ and unable to open it. just it asks to enter password on double click, even I converted file into .xml format and opened with notepad but data showing in unreadable font. Hence, unable to Search for the string w:enforcement=”1″ (or w:enforcement=”on”) to replaced with 0 or off.

    Yet!!! I’ve not found such application to unlock it free.

    Kindly do assist me if possible to do so.

    Thanks and regards,
    Firdaous Nizami

  11. Richard Blais

    Merci beaucoup,

    Ça fonctionne très bien mais j’ai modifié la recherche pour le trouver par w:enforcement=

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