Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

Why are all my Word docs locked?? Please help!

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Drjones, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Drjones


    Likes Received:
    Sep 28, 2002
    CA, just outside the United States
    My office has a Sony laptop that I use for meeting presentations.

    All I do with it is copy documents I need for my meetings from the office server onto the laptop.

    For some reason, for the past several weeks, documents that I copy from the server are locked. Not "Read-Only", but Locked.

    If I try to type or otherwise edit a document that I've copied from the server, it says "This modification is not allowed because the document is locked" at the bottom left corner of Word. I cannot modify or alter them in any way, nor can I "Save As" a new file.

    No desktop in our office has any such issues. I even copied documents from the server onto a memory stick, stuck the memory stick in the laptop, and even doing it that way the documents are Locked on the laptop.

    Our tech guy is working on it right now, but even he's a little stumped, so I thought I'd see if GT can outsmart him. :) I have faith in you guys!!!

    FYI, I'm very computer-savvy and have NOT made any changes whatsoever to any settings on the computer whatsoever.

    I only touch it to copy documents back and forth and make presentations, that's it. No internet surfing on it, NOTHING.

    Does anyone here have any ideas??

  2. Washington D.C.

    Washington D.C.

    Likes Received:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Woestyn Kusdorp
    "If this only happens in one particular document, try clicking on Tools |
    Unprotect Document. If all new and existing documents are locked for
    editing, then it's probably because you have not activated your
    Word/Office software, or because you have an expired trial version of
    Office 2003. What happens if you start Word and click on Help |
    Activate Product? If you are already activated, a dialog box saying so
    will appear. If you are not activated, the Activation Wizard will
    start. If you have an expired trial version, a dialog box will prompt
    you to enter a valid product key or purchase a key online."

    This is an indication that some Windows locking files are not being released correctly. This happens everytime your computer crashes whilst Word is running and often for inexplicable reasons. In order to minimise these problems, a good regular clean up of your computer is recommended.

    If you are working to a deadline and don't have time for a full cleanup procedure, just follow steps 1-3 below. To thoroughly clean out your system, follow the complete procedure. This will be very similar for all Windows operating systems and versions of Word.


    Close all applications and reboot the computer.


    Open Windows Explorer and Search for *.tmp, ~*.do?, and ~*.wbk, and delete all that are found (Ctrl+A then press Delete). If you get the message, 'Unable to delete filename', Ctrl+click to deselect that file and press Delete to continue deleting the remainder.

    (Notes for power users: you can speed up the Windows explorer Find by concatenating the search criteria using semi-colons or spaces, e.g. *.tmp;~*.do?;~*.wbk; but if you do so, be extremely careful, as a typo could mean you delete some important files! Also, if, for some reason, you have modified the extension for Word Backup files to something other than .wbk, you would need to change your search criteria accordingly).


    Go to the Windows/Temp folder and make sure if it is empty. If it isn't empty select and delete the contents.


    Reboot your computer again (you may skip this step if you are confident that you have not deleted any system files).


    Open the Display Properties dialog (right-click on an empty area of desktop and select Properties) and click on the Screensaver tab. Set Screensaver to none and then select the Power Button. Deselect all power saving options. Close the dialog.


    It is advisable to stop any AntiVirus utility running before proceeding with the next stage.


    On the Desktop, right-click on the Recycle Bin and select, Empty Recycle Bin.


    Open Windows Explorer, right-click on the main drive (usually C:) and select Properties.


    Click on Tools tab and then under Error Checking click on “Check now”. (The exact wording differs slightly between versions of Windows installed).


    Make sure that error checking (or ScanDisk) is set to do a Thorough scan of both system and data areas and that “Automatically Fix System File Errors” is checked.


    When the error checking has completed, click on the Defragmentation button and let Windows defrag the drive.


    Do the same for any other drives installed.


    When complete, reboot the computer; open Word and test that locked file again.
    How frequently should you perform this clean up?

    This depends if you are a heavy user or a light user. I would recommend that this whole process be performed monthly for a heavy user and approximately 3-monthly for a light user. In between, you may find it necessary to regularly clean out temporary files, say weekly or immediately after a GPF or if you experience a locked file. Performing just steps 1, 2, 3 and 7 will be sufficient for these occasions. Excessive use of Scandisk and Defrag is unnecessary and may cause excessive wear on your computer. Always run a Scandisk before running a Defrag: defragging a drive with errors is a recipe for disaster!

    See also Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q211632, which covers how Word uses temporary files.
    How Word saves documents

    Here is a brief description of how Word saves a file and why you sometimes see that temp file in the documents folder location if you crash.


    Create temp file

    Create ~wrdxxxx.tmp


    Write temp file

    Save example data to ~wrdxxxx.tmp


    Delete original file

    Delete Example.doc


    Move temp to target name

    Move ~wrdxxxx.tmp to Example.doc

    Word gains significant performance speed by placing the temporary file in the same directory as the saved file. If Word placed the temporary file elsewhere, it would have to use the MS-DOS COPY command to move the temporary file from the other directory to the saved location. By leaving the temporary file in the same directory as the saved document file, Word can use the MS-DOS MOVE command to quickly designate the temporary file as the saved document.

    The temp file that is visible in the documents folder when you open a document is the Owner file: (~$ The reason one gets the “file in use” error is due to the Owner file only. Other temp files will not cause this error. However it is a good idea to use the steps above to “clean up”, following a crash, to free up space and to prevent possible problems in the future.

    The ~wrdxxxx.tmp file, (created during a save) is the one you want if you do need to recover a document from a crash. Almost all of the other temp files are illegible and those that can be read are just bits and pieces of the document - nothing you can really recover from.

  3. Drjones


    Likes Received:
    Sep 28, 2002
    CA, just outside the United States
    Tech guy discovered why:

    The version of Office on that laptop hadn't been activated.

    Installed a new version, problem gone. :)

    Thanks for the help!
  4. fastvfr

    fastvfr Ancient Tech

    Likes Received:
    Mar 28, 2001
    SW Oregon
    Product Activation = Spawn Of Satan.

    Glad you got that M$ Mess straightened out, Doc.