How To Edit Password Protected Word Documents

I just came across this article and it intrigued me so I gave it a try.

At first I was stymied because the first step said to open the document in Word and I thought well, if it is password protected, then I cannot open it!  Then I realized the title of the article was a tad deceiving. In actuality, it meant documents where the formatting, etc., had been password protected! Now it made lots of sense to me!

So what are the reasons one would want to unlock a password protected document? One would assume that the author or company has the document protected for a sound reason, right? And our first response should most likely be to let it be. But, we could ask the author/company for the password if we need to access part of the document– that is, if the author is still reachable. Supposing though that the original author is nowhere to be found and the company has long since gone out of business and you really, really need to be able to access some of the protected fields or formatting tools.

Or, this could also be a document that you protected yourself and you just cannot remember the password!  It happens. Trust me, I know! In either case, this will come in very handy for you.

How To Unlock Password Protected Documents

Follow the steps below to learn how to unlock the document:

  1. Open the password protected document in Word.
  2. Click on File | Save As.
  3. From the Save As drop down list, select Word XML Document (*.xml).
  4. Click Save.
  5. Close Word.
  6. Right-click on the saved.XML file. It should be in the same folder as your original document.
  7. From the contextual menu that opens, select Open with and then select a text editing program to open your file (i.e., WordPad, NotePad, etc.). Do NOT select Microsoft Word.
  8. Click CTRL + F to open the Find dialog box.
  9. In the Find what field, key in enforcement.

You will find one instance: either w:enforcement=”1″, or w:enforcement=”on”.



  1. Replace the “1” with a zero “0”, or replace “on” with “off” to disable enforcement. This will unlock your document.
  2. Save the .XML document with your text editor and close the editing software.
  3. Right-click on the saved .XML file and click on Open with and select Microsoft Word.
  4. As soon as you have opened your document, click File | Save As and select Word document (*.docx) from the Save as Type drop-down.
  5. Change the name of your document if you would like to preserve the original password-protected document and make this a new document, or use the same name to replace your original document.
  6. Click Save.

About the Author

Carol Bratt

Carol holds A+, MCP, and MOS computer certifications and is the resident DCT Office expert. She trains the staffs of small law firms in the use of Microsoft Office applications and has authored many books covering Microsoft Office as well as written articles for Infopackets, TechnoLawyer, and Digital Harbor. For more Microsoft Office tips visit Carol's Corner Office or follow Carol on FaceBook and Twitter.

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