File Locked by Another User in Excel

Working in Excel, especially in new environments such as Microsoft 365 and the Online version means that the file can be used by multiple users. In the new day and age, issues can be many, and one of them is that the Excel file can be locked by another user.  

In the example below, we will show how to unlock the file locked by another user.

Excel File Locked by Another User

If someone else uses the file that we want to access, we will get the following message:

As seen, there are three options at our disposal at this point, which are:

  • Open a Read Only copy
  • Create a local copy and merge your changes later, and
  • Receive a notification when the original copy is available.

There are multiple reasons why a certain Excel file can be locked:

  • Excel is not properly closed, and for that reason, the owner’s file is not erased.
  • Another request for the same file is active in the background, and the document is already open.
  • The file is shared via the network, and another user is using it.

There are several solutions to this problem:

  1. Disconnect the User That has File Opened

The first thing that we need to do is to find the file path of our file. We will find our file, right-click on it, and then choose Properties:

We will find the location of the file here:

Once we have that, we will click the Windows key + R button on our keyboard to open the Run dialog box. In the input box, we will type in the word “MMC”, which is a shortcut to Microsoft Management Console:

In the Console, we will go to the File tab, and then choose Add/Remove Snap-in:

From the list of Available snap-ins, we will choose the Shared Folders, and then Add, to add the new one to the Selected snap-ins list:

When we click Add, the new box will appear with the message to select the computer where we want the snap-in to manage, be it the local computer, or another computer:

We will click Finish, and then will choose Open Files under Shared Folders:

If we had any of the files opened by another user, we would need to simply right-click on it and choose Close Open File:

  1. Close all the Excel Instances

If we have multiple instances of Excel opened, we can always terminate them at the same time. We will first save all of the things in progress, then press CTRL + ALT + DELETE, opening the Windows Security dialog box. We will choose Task Manager, and then choose the Processes tab:

We will click the End task button. When the Task Manager Warning appears, we will click OK. If we are stuck for editing by some other user, or the program is not responding we will choose End Now.

  1. Edit the Same File

If the file in question is the online file or any file that can be edited simultaneously by two users, we have two options- to wait for that particular user to finish and release the version, and then work on the file, or to make a copy of the Excel file and make all the changes in that file.

  1. Some Office App Being Executed in the Background

Sometimes it can happen that our file is not on the network being shared, or we know for a fact that another user is not editing it, but the file is still locked. If this happens, there is a big chance that some instance of the Office app is running in the background, along with the opened file.

Tomasz Decker is an Excel specialist, skilled in data analysis and financial modeling.