Fix: File Couldn’t Open in Protected View Error on Word

Microsoft Word icon

Do you see a ‘file couldn’t open in protected view’ error on Microsoft Word?

There are tons of word processing software available in the market but none comes close to what Microsoft Word offers. It is the leading word tool in the world with over a billion copies sold worldwide. 

Being the best tool for document creation, one might think that Microsoft Word is flawless. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

Similar to other apps, Microsoft Word is vulnerable to errors. 

If you are reading this, we can assume that you are experiencing one. The ‘file couldn’t open in protected view’ error is a common problem on any MS Office app. This prevents users from accessing their documents. 

Most of the time, this issue occurs due to improper configurations and corrupted data. On the other hand, it can also be due to outdated software. 

To help you out, we’ve decided to make a guide for fixing the ‘file couldn’t open in protected view’ error on Word. 

Let’s dive right in!

1. Restart Your Computer. 

If you can’t open files in Microsoft Word, the first thing you should do is reboot your computer. This should reload your system resources and eliminate temporary bugs and glitches in the process. 

See the steps below to restart your PC: 

  1. First, press the Windows key on your keyboard to open the Start Menu
  2. After that, access the Power Options tab. 
  3. Lastly, choose Restart and wait for your system to reboot. 
restart your pc

Go back to Microsoft Word afterward to check if the problem is solved. 

2. Repair Your File. 


When you encounter this error message on Word, it usually indicates an issue with your document. To address this, you can use Word’s built-in tool to repair your files. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. First, launch Microsoft Word on your computer. 
  2. After that, click on File > Open > Browse
  3. Select the file you want to open and click the drop-down arrow next to the Open button. 
  4. Lastly, click on Open and Repair

Once done, access your file to check if the problem is solved. 

3. Turn Off Protected View. 

If you have full access to the document, try turning off protected view if the error message keeps appearing. This should allow you to edit your file and make the necessary changes without having to deal with the annoying error message. 

See the guide below to turn off protected view: 

  1. On Microsoft Word, go to File > Options.
  2. Now, access the Trust Center and click on Protected View
  3. Finally, turn off all the options under it and save the changes. 
file couldnt open in protected view error on word

Open your file afterward to check if the problem is solved. 

4. Disable Hardware Acceleration. 

For some users, they were able to resolve the issue by disabling hardware acceleration. If you haven’t tried this option, we suggest doing it on your end. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. First, open Microsoft Word on your computer. 
  2. Next, go to File > Options
  3. Head to the Advanced tab afterward and scroll down to Display
  4. Lastly, make sure that the ‘Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration’ option is enabled and save the changes. 
file couldnt open in protected view error on word


Try accessing your file again to check if the problem is solved. 

5. Update Microsoft Word. 

Outdated versions of Microsoft Word could also trigger the ‘file couldn’t open in protected view’ error. To rule this out, try installing any pending updates on your system to ensure you have the latest working copy of Word. 

See the guide below to update Word: 

  1. First, go to File > Accounts
  2. After that, click on Update Options
  3. Lastly, choose Update Now and follow the prompts. 
file couldnt open in protected view error on word

Relaunch Microsoft Word afterward and check if the problem is solved. 

That brings us to the end of our guide for fixing the ‘file couldn’t open in protected view’ error on Microsoft Word. If you have questions, please let us know in the comment section, and we’ll do our best to help. 

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂

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