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: Locked File Puzzle.

Locked File Puzzle

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 23, 2014)

Eric was having a problem with one of his workbooks. It seems that every time he opened the workbook he saw a dialog box that said the file was locked and that he would have to save changes under a different name. Even when he does that, the dialog box still appears on the new workbook.

The first thing to try is to restart your machine, or copy the workbook to a different folder on your system. The reasoning for this is simple: Sometimes Excel can get confused and think that a file is "locked" by another user, when in fact it is not. Restarting or copying the workbook can help clear the confusion.

The most likely cause of this problem, however, is that there is some sort of macro running when the workbook is opened. Even if you save the workbook under a different name, the macro would be saved with the new workbook, and the process would repeat itself all over again. To test this, try the following:

  1. Open the workbook like normal, dismissing the dialog box.
  2. Select all the worksheets in the workbook. (Click on the left-most worksheet, then hold down the Shift key as you click on the right-most worksheet.)
  3. Choose Move or Copy Sheet from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Move or Copy dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Move or Copy dialog box.

  5. Using the To Book drop-down list, choose (new book).
  6. Make sure the Create a Copy check box is selected.
  7. Click OK.

Now you have two workbooks: the one you opened and a new, unnamed workbook. Close the original workbook without saving, and then save the new workbook under any name desired. You should be able to open the new workbook with no problems, as macros are not copied in the above steps.

If you cannot complete step 3 because the Move or Copy Sheet option is not available, it means that the worksheets have been protected. You would need to remove protection from the worksheets before you could copy them.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2705) 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: Locked File Puzzle.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Capitalizing Just a Surname

Changing the capitalization of text is, believe it or not, a common task in Excel. Common or not, it can be frustrating to ...

Discover More

Specifying a Collating Sequence for Indexes

The indexing feature provided by Word can be a great help, but in some situations it may not sort your index as you desire. ...

Discover More

Watermarks in Excel

Excel is great at printing numbers on a piece of paper, but terrible at printing watermarks. This is apparently by design, as ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Finding the Size of a Workbook

Keeping tabs on the size of a workbook can be important when using Excel. You have a couple of options that will allow you to ...

Discover More

Cannot Double-Click to Open a Workbook

When you double-click on a workbook in Windows, the Excel program should be started and the workbook loaded. When this ...

Discover More

Adding a File Path and Filename

If you need to stuff the current workbook's filename and path into a cell or a header or footer, you'll appreciate the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five less than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.