Issue Description

SharePoint is a great tool from Microsoft for organizational collaboration. Apart from that SharePoint allows users to open files directly from server to local PC and then edit them. However, sometime this process is interrupted because the SharePoint file opens in Read-only mode and does not allow user to edit the file.

SharePoint file opening as readonly

There are several reasons why this happens and I have discussed them in details below.

SharePoint file opening in Read only mode
Cause and Resolution

There are several reasons why a SharePoint file opens in read-only mode and most common of them is cache issue. SharePoint uses cache to improve software performance but sometimes these cache files do not work as intended and causes these issues. However there are other reasons as well, below are some of the key reasons why this happens. Before you follow any of the below methods, please make sure you have an updated version of office application.

Reasons behind this issue

  • User do not have edit permission – Although user might have edit permission in the entire site but user may not have edit permission in the affected file. Before checking anything else, check if user has permission in that file.
  • Document is checked-out by another user – If the document you are trying to open is checked out by another user then the document will always open in read-only mode. The other person needs to check-in the document, then you can edit it.
  • SharePoint Office file cache issue – Cache issue is one of the most common reasons why files open in read-only mode from SharePoint. You need to clear the cache files to fix this issue. Please follow the guide here to fix SharePoint related office file cache issues.
  • OneDrive and/or SharePoint sync is causing the issue– If you have OneDrive/SharePoint sync running in your PC, then this can cause the issue as well. Try disabling syncing and check if the issue gets resolved.
  • Mandatory column value missing in SharePoint – If your SharePoint document library has custom (mandatory) columns which are empty, then this can cause the issue as well. Check the document library and verify if there is any empty column present. If so, try putting some value in it and check if the file opens normally.
  • Antivirus is causing the problem – If you have an antivirus, then it can cause this issue. Your antivirus may block the connection between SharePoint and your local PC which can force SharePoint to open file in read-only mode. To verify this, open the file in browser and check if you can edit.

Additional Troubleshooting

Apart from all the methods mentioned above, I have two additional methods to share which you can follow to resolve this SharePoint file read-only mode issue.

#1. Clear Cache

First, open IE and clear all your browser cache and also clear all your windows cached credentials. Then sign out of office application, restart your PC and sign in to your application. Use IE browser to open the SharePoint site and open the file from IE.

#2. Online repair of your office application

Online repair can also help to resolve this kind of issues. To do an online repair, search for “Add or remove programs” in windows > under apps & features search for “office” > click and choose “modify” > Then choose repair or online repair. Wait for the process to complete as it may take few minutes. Once the process is complete, restart your PC and check if the SharePoint file is opening in read-only mode again.

sharepoint file opening always as readonly
office-online-repair for sharepoint file read only issue

Issue persists: SharePoint file still opens as read only

If the issue still persists even after following all the steps mentioned above, then verify if it is due to your PC. Try to login in a different PC and check if you can open the file there. If the file opens in the new PC then there is likely an issue with your account in the previous PC. For further troubleshooting, try recreating your account in the older PC or else, contact Microsoft and ask for guidance on how to resolve this issue.
You can also check this Microsoft document.

I hope you found this guide helpful to resolve SharePoint file opening in read-only mode. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

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Author @ramizmollahmd

About Ramiz

Ramiz is a professional working in an MNC as a business and technology consultant for quite a few years now. Ramiz is proficient in various Microsoft tools and technologies. He is a tech enthusiast and an active blogger. Ramiz spends his free time playing games or watching movies. He writes blogs to share his knowledge with the world and to make it a better place to live.


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