How to stop all Office files in SharePoint 2010 opening read-only

(This post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

In this post we look at how differing versions of Microsoft Office ProPlus affects SharePoint 2010 and the ability to open and edit Office files, plus how to fix them.

The situation

I began to get reports from users that were trying to open Office files from SharePoint that the files would only open read-only. These users have historically always had permissions to edit the files and have previously been able to open the files in edit mode from libraries within the SharePoint environment.

In this scenario we were running Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus version 16 and updates were on the monthly channel.

Investigation

There were several suggestions already within the Microsoft community on how to fix this issue, which I initially tested myself to see if they would work. I tried:

  • Clearing the Windows credentials of the MicrosoftOffice16 credentials
  • Turning off the “require documents to be checked out before they are edited” option in the a libraries settings

However, neither of these things worked completely. I didn’t notice any difference clearing credentials, and with the checking out files feature – this wasn’t turned on for the majority of the libraries I tested. Plus I didn’t really like the idea of having to turn off the checking out functionality in every library within our SharePoint environment!

So I continued to investigate and found the following:

The read-only issue appeared differently depending on the Office file

For Word and PowerPoint files, I saw that files would show this window when opening:

Word & PowerPoint files would open read-only after clicking open from this prompt.

Then the files would be read-only, if you tried to save the file it would ask you to save a copy. If you tried to overwrite the file saved in SharePoint it would tell you it is read-only and cannot be saved.

For Excel files, again you get the above prompt before the file opened, however when you opened the file a yellow banner would appear, allowing you to edit the workbook:

Excel files performed differently to other Office files when opening form SharePoint.

If you press “Edit Workbook” you could edit the file and save back to SharePoint no problem.

Some users could edit files from Open with explorer, but not all

So in this example some users could work around the issue by opening the file in explorer, which would allow them to edit the file and save back to SharePoint.

This wasn’t consistent for everyone, in some cases when users opened a file from explorer view, they would be prompted to check out the file from a yellow message in the ribbon, which would then error to tell them they can’t as the file is read-only.

Older versions of Office updates did not experience this issue

Not all of the users in this scenario had the same Office updates. One user who was running version 1611 on their machine was able to open and edit the same files from SharePoint that users running 2002 and above Office updates could not.

Solution

Im calling this a solution, but really it feels more like a sticking plaster as I’ve personally noticed this issue has been presenting itself in varying ways since at least the 1908 Office update, but this latest issue presented itself with the 2002 and 2003 Office updates. Anyway, here’s what we did to get files opening again:

  • Uninstall any Access Database Engine downloads you may have installed (2007, 2010 is what I noted)
  • Run an Office repair on the machine(s) with the issue
  • Install, or re-install Infopath 2013

Once Infopath was installed, when opening the same Office files (Word, PowerPoint or Excel) the above prompt changed to look like this:

Once Infopath 2013 was installed, the above prompt would appear when opening files from SharePoint.

I continued to test, going so far as to switch on the “require documents to be checked out before they are edited” setting just to see if that had any bearing on things, which it didn’t as the prompt just changed slightly:

With the check out option configured, the prompt to open and edit files in SharePoint slightly changes.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is by no means a solution to this problem, but it’s got us out of a jam for the past few Office updates, so hopefully it will help someone else too!

Resources

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