Weekly Computer Tip # 253
12 December 2008

Set a prompt to open a file as read-only
(Office 2003-2007)

I know, I know - no tip last week (thanks for noticing). I was in Germany for work, causing mayhem for one of my trainers when a woman with a clipboard entered his hotel room - while he was half decent. And - ouch - I was to blame ... In order to avoid the absurd situation of him charging me and me charging the client I tend to settle his bills when I'm there as well. So when I checked out - early - that morning I paid for his room. Nuff said and on with this week's tip ...

If you don't want people to accidentally modify your Word or Excel files, you can set a prompt to be displayed when the file gets opened, which recommends - but does not require - that the reviewer opens the file as read-only.

Here's how:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Save As. (Or, for those of you who are still using Office 2003 ... choose the File, Save As command.)
  2. In the Save As dialog box, click the Tools button and choose General Options. (In Word 2003 it is labelled Security Options but you probably would have figured that one out?!)
  3. Select the Read-only recommended check box.
  4. Click OK.
  5. If prompted, click Yes to update the existing file with the new read-only setting.

If changes to a read-only file are made, the changes can only be saved by giving the file a new name.

By the way, PowerPoint only gives you the option to protect the document with a password but as Microsoft cannot retrieve the password, people end up forgetting (or writing down) their passwords which is why I wouldn't necessarily recommend to go that route.