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.

8 thoughts on “How To Edit Password Protected Word Documents”

    1. I have never tried it but I imagine it might. I will have to give it a try and let you know! Or if you try it first, you can let me know!

  1. Just one problem here. After I set a password, it’s no longer possible to OPEN the file. After all, that’s why we password protect it. What purpose would it serve if anyone open it and resave as you suggest. Perhaps I missed something … ?

  2. Yes, I guess you did miss something! If you read the first sentence again perhaps it will make sense to you. Go ahead and follow the steps and then it will become more clear. The document itself is not password protected. The formatting is password protected!

    1. Now that you explain it, I see what you said. That’s not an option I’d ever heard of and am not likely to use, so I had no basis for noticing the difference. I did do some research and found that encrypted password protected files are unbreakable by any means ordinary citizens are privy to. So we’d better be careful about those! Thanks for all your great tips.

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