In my SharePoint 2010 environment I currently have the document library setting "Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited?" set to no. All of my users are on Office 2007 and Office 2010, but most are on 2007.

If one of my users opens a document (almost always an Excel or Word file) it usually opens in edit mode without a prompt because usually they aren't opening it directly from the document library. This isn't really a problem until someone else needs to be able to edit the document at which time the first user obviously has to close the document and reopen it after the other user has opened it and claimed editing rights.

If you open a document specifically in read-only there's usually a button in the information bar that allows you to take editing rights, but is there any way to back down from editing mode to read-only from within an Office document?

  • I could rebuild your circumstances as far as I see, but I had no problem that second user could not edit same document. My suggestions is to force users to check out explicitly. Because for reading only it is unnecessary and you get buttons for discard check out. If you have no power, I assume, you won't find a solution. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:08
  • Having more than one user edit a document simultaneously is not what I want. Only a handful of computers in my office have Office 2010. Office 2007 does not allow multiple people to edit a document at the same time. I don't know how much clearer I can be.
    – newuser
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 12:43
  • 1
    Thanks guys for the good discussion because this is a pretty tough question. Take a look at my answer because I tried to explain the difference between locks (which I think is what JonnyP is talking about) and check in/out which is what @ShegitBrahm is talking about).
    – Kit Menke
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 13:06

4 Answers 4


In my experience, the answer is no. You must close the document. This will allow another user to click on the document for editing.

I would advise your users to open the document from the SharePoint site if they want to edit the document or use a link to the document to quickly grab a read only copy.

There was some other discussion in the question around the difference between check in/out and the document being locked for editing. The major differences are:

  • Check In/Out can be disabled on the library. You are able to see in the library when someone has document checked out.
  • You cannot disable the "locked for editing" SharePoint behavior. You are not able to see when someone is editing it. This sometimes results in this message: [Document] is locked for editing by [Someone].
  • Thanks, Kit. Unfortunately given the way my users became accustomed to our old intranet they want to be able to open documents in edit mode by default from a link on a separate page. In order to do that I had to use the method described in the answer to this question because I wasn't able to figure out how to enable the "Edit this Document" button when a document was opened in that manner before.
    – newuser
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 13:17
  • Interesting. So documents always open in Edit mode? Seems like you have conflicting requirements. :)
    – Kit Menke
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 13:49
  • They do once I create that new DWORD in the user's registry. And I don't really have conflicting requirements, everyone likes that files open in edit mode by default, they just don't like that they have to close a document to let someone else edit it. What would be ideal is a button in the information bar that says "Stop editing this document and view as read-only" similar to where the "Edit this document" button exists right now in a read-only document.
    – newuser
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 14:15

Steps 1 to 4 of this might be of help, but it isn't exactly what you are after:


I don't know if it is possible to set the "read-only recommended" option as default for all saved / newly created files.

From the linked page:

Step 1 Open the workbook you want to save with a read-only prompt.

Step 2 Click the “File” tab on the ribbon and select “Save As” from the menu to open the Save As dialog box.

Step 3 Click the “Tools” button and select “General Options” from the drop-down menu to open the General Options dialog box.

Step 4 Click the box next to the “Read-only recommended” option. When someone accesses the file, Excel will display a prompt advising the user that the workbook should be opened as read-only unless changes are necessary.

  • Can you please extend this answer to make it more stand-alone from the link? Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 6:33

I (seem to) have achieved this by simply going to the 'View' tab and selecting 'Read view'. I have yet to confirm this, however, with my colleagues


In our environment user is notified that this document is checked out by so and so and you can open it as read only.


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