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Document is locked for editing

4 January, 2008 (15:12) | SharePoint | By: Liebrand

At some point in time, you will run into the DocumentName is locked for editing by ‘Username’ message when working with SharePoint. Most of the time, this is a very valid message and is notifying the user that someone else is already editing the document.


However, what happens when the message has your name there?  How could this be possible? (On some occasions it will also say unknown.)

When you edit a document, SharePoint registers that you have this document open for editing.  Once every 10 minutes or so, the Office product will check back in with SharePoint letting it know that it is still open by you. Once the document is saved and closed then Office will let SharePoint know that the document is now available to other users.

On some occasions you will receive the locked for editing message with your name there and no matter what you attempt to do you cannot get rid of the message (closing / reopening the document or restarting your computer does nothing to help rectify this).

This situation most commonly occurs under the following scenarios:

  1. The Microsoft Office product crashes while you were working on the document
  2. Computer freezes or crashes while document is open
  3. Lost of network connectivity while document is open

You might be wondering how this could happen if the document is stored in SharePoint?  To understand how this situation can happen, it is helpful to understand how SharePoint and Office work together.

The following is a high level overview of the process:

  1. User clicks Edit in Microsoft Word from the drop down menu in a SharePoint document library
  2. Word launches and tell SharePoint that you have the document open for editing (locked for other users)
  3. A copy of the document is downloaded and stored in a hidden system folder on your local computer. By default, this is located  in:

    C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.MSO

  4. Under normal circumstances, when you close the Office product, the file is removed from the Content.MSO folder

If someone occurs that prevents the document from cleaning itself up (such as one of the scenarios mentioned previously) it is possible that Office will continue to tell you the file is locked for editing.

The solution to the problem is to simply delete all the files out of the Content.MSO folder and attempt to open the document again from SharePoint.

Prior to deleting the files you may want to copy the files because it is also possible that the version stored on the hard drive is more recent than the one stored in SharePoint — I have seen this on rare occasions.

Update – 4/13/2010

Be sure to check out part 2 of this post the outlines another location you may need to check.

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