“Edit in Word” (or Excel) not opening document in Office 365, or “Read-Only” status upon opening and trying to save changes

When working in Office 365 or SharePoint and you open a document for editing, you get two choices. Edit in Word (or Excel) or Edit in Browser. Editing in browser is typically a safe route but it doesn’t give you full functionality like the clients will.

The issue I’m discussing here is when a user tries to edit a document from SharePoint using the client (not Edit in Browser) the client opens to a blank, gray background (no document) or doesn’t open at all. This is likely an account conflict in syncing or accessing.

In other cases, the document may open, but as read-only. If that’s the case, it’s likely permissions-related. You might first check the user’s specific permissions in SharePoint. Sometimes because of broken (not inherited) permissions, or partial access to a site, users are able to edit in browser, but not in the client. If this is your situation, it could well be the cause.

Hopefully this is a simple fix for you, but as it’s become clear to me a number of times with this issue it can be quite complicated. I have a couple fixes, though the second is less ideal. If anyone else has run into this and would like to offer their experience, please do so in the comments.

Fix #1: Check Your Credentials Used in the Client

If you’re like me, you sign in to SharePoint, your computer or tablet and Office applications sometimes all with different accounts. Demo accounts, personal, professional, etc. Your issue could likely lie within this confused sphere of credentials.

Check to make sure your Office account (in client) matches the account you’re using in SharePoint to open the document. If the permissions differ between different accounts, Word/Excel will not open the document from browser in the client. And if it does, it may only open as read-only and your changes will only be saved locally.

  1. Click on your account name in the upper right of your Microsoft Office client application:
    officeaccount
  2. From here you have three options. “Sign Out” is typically a good first step to ensure a clean start (1st star). You may also have other accounts already “saved” you can click on (2nd star) to switch to. The third option here is to add another account, which may just add another address to your current login (3rd star). I’ve had both good and bad outcomes from this third option, but it’s worth a try. In theory, it would use the account with the highest credentials to attempt to open your document.
    clientaccounts.png
  3. If you sign out, be sure to sign in again.
  4. You might also check your connected services by navigating in your client to File –> Account. You should see something like this where you can remove any connected services you fear may be interfering by clicking “remove” to the right of them. Based on the account you’re using to sign into the Microsoft client, you may not have the option to remove the service until you’re no longer signed in under that credential.
    connected services.png

Fix #2: Stop Syncing OneDrive for Business (or OneDrive) Client SharePoint Folders

If your accounts are okay and you’re still uncertain there’s another fix that’s worked but it’s not ideal by any means. This solution will also fix any SharePoint to OneDrive sync issues you’re having where the issue states something to do with credentials (again, most likely due to multiple logins/credentials conflicting somewhere).

  1. Right click on the OneDrive for Business (or OneDrive) icon in your task bar.
    onedrivetaskbar.png
  2. Select Stop Syncing a Folder
    stopsyncingfolder
  3. Select the SharePoint folder(s) you wish to stop syncing due to issues or possible credential conflict and click “Stop.”

Good luck!

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