How to make a SharePoint file read only

In Microsoft SharePoint, you may adjust the file settings for libraries, folders, and individual documents which is effective to ensure you have greater control over the contents of your SharePoint site. There are only a few changes that need to be made to a document to ensure it’s read-only, then users who have not been authorized will only be able to open and read the document rather than downloading it.

Step by step process:

  • First, sign into Office 365.
  • Open the app launcher and click on Admin.
  • Click on SharePoint to open the SharePoint app.
  • Click on policies followed by sharing.
  • Scroll down and, in the category where it says “Choose the permission that’s selected by default for sharing links,” click on “view” — this will change the share setting to view.
  • Then underneath “These links can give these permissions” change the file view and edit selection to just edit.
  • Then click save.
  • Get SharePoint from $6.00 per month with Microsoft 365 Business Basic.

What this does is that it allows users to effectively turn the file into a read-only file every time it’s opened making it easier to ensure unintentional edits are avoided. To reverse the effect and disable the read-only feature you can click file >> info >> Protect document again. This will remove the changes made earlier and ensure you have the document the way you need it.

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When would you use the “read only” feature

Users have a choice as to whether they want to enable read-only or have editing from the start however there are instances where users want to disable the edit feature. Firstly, as stated earlier it’s a safety feature where accidental and unintentional edits can be prevented if used correctly.

Users may also wish to have this feature enabled to prevent their partners who have access to this particular file from being edited upon opening, only when essential should the file be edited in this instance. 

The file is used for visual purposes only, where users may want to only use the file to share content to visualize for example planning writeups, invoices, and other important defined documents that don’t need any form of editing.


Unfortunately, SharePoint does not have the ability to make a document read-only on its own. While a document is in SharePoint, SharePoint can assign read access to it. Those permissions will not be carried if downloaded and opened. To limit, you’d have to utilize Azure Information Protections or the Rights Management Service.

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Make a SharePoint file read-only: Step-by-step

  • Firstly, you need to sign in to Office 365 where the Sharepoint file is located. This will bring you to the office 365 dashboard.
  • Then click on the app launcher menu section illustrated by three dots followed by the Admin button.
  • Then click on the “show all” button which will bring up more selections for you to access.
  • At the bottom of the section click on Sharepoint which will bring up the admin Sharepoint section.
  • Then under policies click on sharing, the policies tab is located in the left hand menu panel as a dropdown listing you will see sharing, click on this.
  • Then in the link share category change it to view from edit. What this will do is remove the editing portion from a shared link and restrict it to view only.
  • Then edit the settings for the file or folder as this content illustrates changes for a file select the tab which illustrates file,
  • Finally, click on save and this will save the setting changes and when the file is opened you will only be able to view the file and not edit it.

Saajid Gangat

Saajid Gangat has been a researcher and content writer at Business Tech Planet since 2021. Saajid is a tech-savvy writer with expertise in web and graphic design and has extensive knowledge of Microsoft 365, Adobe, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and more! You can connect with Saajid on Linkedin.

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