What Is a Read-Only File | How to Open Read-Only File

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read-only file

Have you received a file that has a read-only attribute turned on? You must be wondering what is a read-only file? Read-only means that the file can only be opened, viewed, and read, but cannot be edited or rewritten. Any file that has been marked as a read-only shouldn’t be changed, or serious cautions should be taken before anyone tries to alter it anyway. You can easily make a file read-only. Furthermore, other things can be read-only, for instance, specifically configured flash drives and storage devices like SD cards. You can also set various areas of computer memory as read-only.

What is a Read-Only File?

what is read-only file

A file attribute that allows users only to view, and read is called read-only. It restricts the readers to write anything or edit the document in any way. So, if you set a file to read-only, it only enables the read enables to open and read it. Making any changes like overwriting, deleting, name changing, or editing is not possible. The read-only attribute is usually used for security and permission purposes, and to keep some unauthorized users from making any intentional or unintentional changes to the file.

1. What Are Read-Only Files Used for

Any file that has been marked as read-only implies that serious cautions are required to be taken before making any kind of alterations to it. For example, the operating system or OS files that are needed for keeping a computer system working are mostly read-only, like bootmgr, the root directory files that are found in Microsoft Windows.

Other examples of read-only files include PDFs, configured Flash drives, and Read-Only Memory (ROM). When you set a Word document or PDF to read-only, the file cannot be edited by anyone.

2. Features of Read-only Files

  • Read-only files can only be open and viewed
  • Making changes like editing, rewriting, etc., is not allowed in read-only files
  • Computer memory has certain areas that are read-only
  • Windows files that are read-only are mostly hidden files

3. Pros and Cons of Read-Only Files

Let us now have a closer look into a few pros and cons of read-only files.


Permanence and security

No one can make unauthorized changes to your file

Prevents overwriting in important documents

Prevents the file system from filling


Storing persistent data, such as a "universal" Password in a read-only attribute is not possible

What Types of Files Are Usually Read-Only?

Usually, the files that have a Read-Only attribute turned ON are the important files that your computer's Operating System requires enabling your system to start and run properly. Any changes to these types of files might cause your computer system to crash.

In addition, in Windows, some files are read-only by default. For example, pagefile.sys, hiberfil.sys, bootmgr, and others in the root directory. Many files in the C:\Windows\folder including the subfolders are set as read-only by default.

In Windows OS, most files that are Read-only are marked as the Hidden files.

How to Open a Read-Only File?

open read-only file

If you want to open a file as a read-only, you may use the "Save As" option from the File menu and save the document as a read-only file with a different file name. Opening a file as read-only requires a bit of consciousness to avoid messing up with your file. Follow these steps to open a document as read-only.

1. Open Files as Read-Only in Microsoft Word 97

  • Step 1: Launch Microsoft Word 97. From the File menu, select Open.
  • Step 2: A dialogue box will appear, letting you search for the file you want to open.
  • Step 3: Click on the File name. Then, click the Commands and Settings Button.
  • Step 4: A context menu will be displayed. From this context menu, select Open Read-Only.

2. Open Files as Read-Only in MS Word 2000 or Later

open a document as read only in word 2000 or later
  • Step 1: Launch Microsoft Word, go to the File menu and select Open.
  • Step 2: A dialogue box will appear. Now locate the file that you want to open
  • Step 3: Click on the File name. On the right side of the Open button, you will find a "Down Arrow". Click it.
  • Step 4: Different ways to open the file will be displayed. Finally, select the "Open Read-only" option from the drop-down menu.

How to Make a File Read-Only?

To make a read-only file, you just have to follow a few simple steps. In short, just right-click on the file, go to its Properties in the menu, and select the option Read-Only that is displayed at the bottom of your General tab.

Another way to make your file Read-only is using the Restrict Editing of MS Office:

  • Step 1: Open the file in Word. Then, go through Review > Restrict Editing.
select review option
  • Step 2: You will find an option saying "Allow only this type of editing in the document". Over here, make sure that you have selected "No Changes"
  • .
allow only type of editing
  • Step 3: After that, you will be asked if you want to start enforcing the protection or not. Click "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection".
start enforcing protection
  • Step 4: You will be asked for a password now. Make an easy-to-remember password and confirm your password. In case you don’t want to set up a password, click the Stop Protection button.

How to Change a Read-Only File?

It is possible that the read-only files are read-only on a folder or a file level. This means you can edit a read-only file according to the level at which it has been marked as read-only.

1. Change a Single Read-Only File

If only a single file has a read-only attribute on it, you can edit it by unchecking the appropriate attribute in the file's properties. And then, you can make changes to it easily. Once you have made those changes, you may re-enable the attribute. Below are the steps to remove read-only attribute for a single file:

  • Step 1: Right-click the read-only file, then choose the Properties option.
  • Step 2: Remove the check mark by the Read Only item unter the General tab. As mentionted in Part 4, you can place a check mark to set the read-only attribute.
  • Step 3: Finally, click OK to save your changes.
remove read only attribute

2. Change a Read-Only Folder

On the other hand, if a folder has a read-only attribute turned ON, this means that all the files in that folder are Read-Only files. This requires making changes to the folder's permissions. To remove the read-only attribute for a folder, go through the following steps:

  • Step 1: Copy the path of the folder you want to change.
  • Step 2: Click the "Start" button in your Windows PC and type "cmd" in the search field. Then, press "Enter".
  • Step 3: The command window will show up. Type the command "attrib -r drive:\path\foldername" and press "Enter" to remove the read-only attribute from a folder. Note: You should replace the drive:\path\foldername with the path of your folder that you have copied on Step 1.
  • Step 4: Finally, type "exit" and press "Enter" to close the command window.

You can also use the equivalent command "attrib +r drive:\path\foldername" to set the folder to read-only.

It is possible that you may not want to change this attribute for all the files in that folder, rather just one or two files to which you wish to make changes. So, in this case, just edit the file in a folder that does allow editing. After that, move to the newly created file in the original file's folder, and overwrite the original file. Over here, you are not actually making changes to the original file, instead, you make a new file and replace the old one with it after making certain changes.

How to Recover Deleted or Lost Read-Only Files?

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Sometimes, we create a file that we want to share with the readers, but we don't want them to edit it or make any changes to it. In such cases, the solution is to make the file Read-only by turning ON the Read-only attribute of the file. By making a file read-only, you make sure that has been secured now. People can view it and read it, but they cannot alter it. This article gave us all the information about how to open, view, change, and make a read-only file.

People Also Ask

Your QuickBooks file might be opened as a read-only file if it has been stored on a CD or a DVD. Additionally, some files are read-only in order to protect and secure accidental edits.

If your Excel spreadsheet is opening as a Read-only file, there might be several reasons behind it. The file might have been shared as a copy, or maybe it has been protected with a password. You may check if the read-only attribute is turned ON by clicking on the properties. You can make changes to the file by clearing the checkbox.

A read-only attribute on a file doesn't prevent you from copying it. All you need to do is select Edit>Select All, and all the text will be highlighted, now simply tap Ctrl+C to copy the whole text.