Excel shared drive "The document is locked for editing by" with incorrect name
Posted by Jared Thomas, Last modified by Jared Thomas on 08 March 2016 08:53 AM

Microsoft Office documents that reside on a shared drive and are opened by multiple users have a feature whereby a user will be notified if the Office document that they are trying to open is in use by another user. The Office application (usually Word or Excel) will give a message saying "The document is locked for editing by username" with three options (Read-only, Notify and Cancel). Sometimes Office will display an incorrect username in this dialog box and the username won't change even when the document is opened by another user. This issue is caused by an owner file being created by the Office application and then not properly deleted afterwards.

To diagnose and resolve this issue, follow these steps:

First, confirm that the file isn't actually opened by the stated user

  1. Log in to the server hosting the file and go to Administrative Tools -> Share and Storage Management
  2. Click on the Manage Open Files... link on the right
  3. Sort by the column Open File and see if the file in question is actually locked open by anyone.
  4. If it is, ask the user to close the file and if necessary, select the locked file and click Close Selected. Don't do this unless absolutely necessary as the user will loose any edits.

If confirmed that no one has the file open but the issue still exists, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Control Panel ->Folder Options and click on the View tab
  2. Untick the Hide protected operating system files option, click OK at the warning dialog box
  3. Tick the Show hidden files, folders and drives option
  4. Click Apply
  5. Navigate to the local storage location of the file
  6. Find and delete the owner file associated with the document in question. The owner file will be a file with a name that identical to the document in question except that the first two characters have been replaced by the characters ~$. For example, the owner file for Spreadsheet.xlsx will be named ~$readsheet.xlsx.
  7. Once you have confirmed that the issue is resolved, go back to the Folder Options window, check the Hide protected operating system files option, tick the Don't show hidden files... option and click OK to apply.
(53 vote(s))
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Comments (10)
Cindy Kline
31 October 2016 12:13 PM
Can you tell me why sometimes the message will say, "The document is locked for editing by username" and it WILL contain the actual username but other times it will only contain a generic "Support" in lieu of the username? Thanks
29 December 2016 04:23 AM
Many thanks! It works
Brett Phipps
10 February 2017 10:10 AM
What do you do if you keep hidden files visible all of the time and you did this before you ever consulted the web, but the file is still saying it's locked by a 'another user'?
28 April 2017 04:26 PM
Thank you so much!! Spent hours searching for a fix for this and couldn't find anything that worked.. but deleting the owner file worked right away. The correct name is now displayed when the file is locked for editing by another user.
25 July 2017 10:07 AM
Excellent! This worked! Been looking for a fix for a while. Thanks so much!
Ravitej Lukka
29 January 2018 02:45 PM
Following the above steps has worked for me
Gangaram Banate
16 May 2018 03:52 AM
this is applicable for Server share what if my Share is on NAS drive??
Ky Purnell
24 May 2018 10:56 PM
Tried removing the owner file, and all it did was change the locked file message from named user to 'a user'.
13 June 2018 01:43 PM
I have spent at least an hour trying to fix this problem and your suggestion is the only one that worked. Thanks!
sofia ridzuan
15 October 2018 05:08 AM
this worked! thank you so much !
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