Excel Tutorial: How To Change Read Only In Excel On Mac


When working with Excel on Mac, you may come across a scenario where you need to change a read-only file. In this Excel tutorial, we will explore how to do just that. It is crucial to be able to modify a read-only Excel file as it allows you to make necessary changes or updates to the data or formulas within the document without having to create a new file from scratch.

Key Takeaways

  • Being able to modify a read-only Excel file on Mac is crucial for making necessary changes without starting from scratch.
  • Understanding what a read-only file is and its limitations is important for efficient file management.
  • Knowing how to check file permissions and change a read-only file to editable is a valuable skill for Excel users on Mac.
  • Saving changes properly after modifying file permissions is essential to retain the changes made to the document.
  • Following best practices and avoiding accidental read-only settings can improve collaboration and workflow efficiency.

Understanding Read-Only in Excel

When working with Excel files, you may come across the term "read-only." It is important to understand what this means and how it can impact your work.

A. Define what a read-only Excel file is

A read-only Excel file is a document that can be viewed and accessed, but not edited or saved with changes. This is often indicated by the phrase "read-only" in the file name or at the top of the Excel window.

B. Explain the limitations of a read-only file and why it may be necessary to change it

Read-only files can be limiting, especially when you need to make changes or customize the document to suit your specific needs. It may be necessary to change a read-only Excel file in order to edit, save changes, or share it with others.

1. Limitations of a read-only file

  • Unable to make any changes or edits to the document
  • Cannot save changes to the original file
  • Limited ability to collaborate and share the document with others

2. Reasons to change a read-only file

  • Need to make edits or updates to the document
  • Desire to customize the file for specific use cases
  • Requirement to share the document with others for collaboration

Checking File Permissions

When working with Excel on Mac, it's important to know how to check and change file permissions, especially if you need to edit a read-only file. Here's how you can do it:

A. Show where to find file permissions in Excel on Mac

1. Open the Excel file that you want to check the permissions for.

2. Click on the "File" menu at the top of the screen.

3. Select "Get Info" from the drop-down menu. This will open the file information window.

B. Explain how to identify if a file is read-only or not

1. In the file information window, look for the "General" section.

2. Under the "General" section, you will see the "Locked" checkbox. If the checkbox is ticked, it means the file is read-only.

3. If the file is read-only, you will need to change the permissions in order to edit it.

Changing File Permissions

When working with Excel on a Mac, it's important to know how to change a read-only file to editable in order to make necessary changes and save the file with your updates. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do just that.

Provide step-by-step instructions on how to change a read-only file to editable

  • Step 1: Open the Excel file that is marked as read-only.
  • Step 2: Click on the "Review" tab in the top menu bar.
  • Step 3: Locate and click on the "Protect Workbook" button.
  • Step 4: Select "Protect Workbook Structure" from the dropdown menu.
  • Step 5: Uncheck the "Protect" option next to "Structure" and enter the password if prompted.
  • Step 6: Click "OK" to confirm the changes and remove the read-only status from the file.

Highlight any potential issues or warnings that may arise when changing file permissions

It's important to note that changing file permissions to make a read-only file editable can pose some risks and issues.

  • Warning: Removing the read-only status may allow unintended changes to be made to the file, so be cautious when making the file editable.
  • Issue: If the file is set as read-only by the file owner or administrator, changing the permissions may violate the permission settings and lead to potential conflicts.
  • Recommendation: Always communicate with the file owner or administrator before making changes to file permissions, and ensure that it is permitted to make the file editable.

Saving Changes

When working with Excel files on a Mac, it’s important to save changes properly, especially after modifying file permissions. This ensures that your modifications are preserved and can be accessed in the future.

A. Explain the importance of saving changes after modifying file permissions

When you modify file permissions in Excel on a Mac, it can affect the ability to make further changes to the file. In order to ensure that your changes are saved and accessible, it’s crucial to save the file properly.

B. Provide tips on how to ensure changes are saved properly

  • Make sure to click on the “Save” button in the toolbar regularly while working on the file.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut “Command + S” to quickly save changes without interrupting your workflow.
  • Check the file permissions after making changes to ensure that they have been applied correctly.
  • Consider using the “Save As” function to create a new version of the file with the modified permissions, ensuring that your changes are preserved.

Best Practices for Working with Read-Only Files

Working with read-only files in Excel on a Mac can sometimes be a bit tricky, but with the right approach and best practices, you can effectively manage and collaborate on these files.

A. Offer suggestions on how to avoid accidentally making a file read-only

It's important to take steps to avoid accidentally making a file read-only, as this can hinder your ability to make necessary edits and updates. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid this issue:

  • Save As a New File: Instead of overwriting the original file, use the "Save As" feature to create a new file with your edits. This ensures that the original file remains unchanged and avoids the risk of making it read-only.
  • Check File Permissions: Before making any changes to a file, check the file permissions to ensure that you have the necessary access rights. If the file is set to read-only for certain users, request the appropriate permissions to edit the file.
  • Use Cloud Storage: Utilize cloud storage services, such as OneDrive or Google Drive, to work on files collaboratively. These platforms offer version history and collaboration features that can help prevent accidental read-only issues.

B. Provide recommendations for collaborating on read-only files effectively

When collaborating on read-only files, it's crucial to have a clear strategy to ensure smooth collaboration and avoid any conflicts. Here are some recommendations for collaborating on read-only files effectively:

  • Communicate with Team Members: Keep open lines of communication with your team members to coordinate who will be making edits to the file. This can help prevent multiple users from attempting to edit the file simultaneously, which can lead to read-only conflicts.
  • Use Track Changes: Leverage Excel's "Track Changes" feature to monitor and review any edits made to the file. This allows you to see who made specific changes and accept or reject them as needed.
  • Consider Shared Workbooks: If appropriate for your project, consider using Excel's "Shared Workbooks" feature, which allows multiple users to edit a workbook simultaneously. This can help prevent read-only conflicts and streamline collaboration.


In conclusion, this tutorial has covered the steps to change read-only files in Excel on Mac. We discussed how to navigate through the file's properties and adjust the permissions to make the file editable. By following the simple steps provided, you can easily modify read-only files and enhance your proficiency in using Excel on Mac.

We encourage our readers to practice these steps to become more proficient in using Excel on Mac. By doing so, you will become more confident in handling read-only files and different aspects of Excel, ultimately improving your skills in data analysis and manipulation.

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