Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Opening a Workbook as Read-Only.

Opening a Workbook as Read-Only

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 14, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


There may be times when you want to open a workbook as read-only. This means you will not be able to save any changes to the workbook you are loading. You can use the Save As option from the File menu in order to save the workbook using a different filename, however. Opening a workbook as read-only is self-insurance so you don't inadvertently mess up your file. To open a workbook as read-only, follow these steps:

  1. Select Open from the File menu, or click on the Open tool on the toolbar. You will see the Open dialog box.
  2. Locate the workbook you want to open and then click once on the filename.
  3. Click the down-arrow at the right side of the Open button. Excel displays a list of different ways you can open the workbook.
  4. Choose Open Read-Only from the menu.

If you are still using Excel 97, then the steps are a bit different.

  1. Select Open from the File menu, or click on the Open tool on the toolbar. You will see the Open dialog box.
  2. Locate the workbook you want to open and then click once on the filename.
  3. Click on the Commands and Settings button. (It is the right-most button on the toolbar in the Open dialog box.) This displays a Context menu.
  4. Choose Open Read Only from the Context menu.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2223) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Opening a Workbook as Read-Only.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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