‘This Modification is Not Allowed Because the Selection is Locked’

Some users are reportedly unable to select any type of text in Word, Excel, Outlook or any other Office document. As it turns out, the issue is not specific to a certain Windows version and is reported to occur with multiple Office versions. Although some users report that they don’t encounter any error message, some users report seeing one of the following two errors in the status bar (at the bottom of the screen):

  • This modification is not allowed because the selection is locked.
  • You can’t make this change because the selection is locked.
This modification is not allowed because the selection is locked

What is causing the ‘You Can’t Make this Change Because the Selection is Locked’ error?

We investigated this repair strategy by looking at various user reports and the repair strategies that they used to resolve the issue. From what we gathered, there are several common scenarios that will create this particular issue:

  • The issue is encountered on a trial version of Office –  Trial versions of Office (particularly with older Office suites) are known to limit certain features, including the ability to select and modify text.
  • The document contains non-changeable metadata – If the body of the document contains visible metadata, you will see this particular error when trying to modify the text. In this case, the solution is to modify the metadata directly.
  • ‘Content control cannot be deleted’ is enabled’ – This developer-exclusive option certain elements of a document from being deleted.
  • Microsoft Office is not activated – This particular error can also be encountered on non-activated  Microsoft Office versions. If you have a product key, activate your Office suite and see if the issue is resolved.
  • Synergy is preventing click and drag actions inside Office applications – If you’re using Synergy, the application might be responsible for blocking content selection in various Office applications.
  • Windows bug – As it turns out, the issue can also occur due to a Windows 7 bug that will occur when a certain Office update is installed.

If you’re currently struggling to resolve this particular error message, this article will supply you with several troubleshooting steps. Below you have a collection of methods that other users in a similar situation have used to get the issue resolved.

To maximize efficiency, follow the methods in the order that they are presented. You should eventually come across an approach that is effective in your particular scenario.

Method 1: Restarting the Office application (temporary fix) 

Several users encountering the same issue have reported that for them, the issue goes away for a little while if they restart the Office application and open the same file again.

However, most affected users that have tried this fix report that this method is only effective for a couple of minutes after the application is re-launched – after that, the same error message returns.

Given the fact that this is only a temporary fix that resolves the problem for a little while, you can use the brief time to copy the entire content of the Office document in a brand new page. This trick should circumvent the issue.

If the issue returns or you’re looking for a more permanent fix, move down to the next method below.

Method 2:  Updating or disabling Synergy (if applicable)

As it turns out, Synergy can also be responsible for one of these two error message variations. This behavior is part of a well-known Synergy bug that effectively disables the drag-select option in every Microsoft Office application.

As of now, the developers behind Synergy have patched this bug ever since the release of version v1.8.2-stable. So if you’re still encountering this error message and you have Synergy installed, start your troubleshooting guide by updating Synergy to the latest version available.

However, if updating to the latest version is not an option for you, other users have managed to get around this issue by pressing the Win key right before they tried to make a selection in a Microsoft Office program.

Another way to go around resolving this issue is to either disable the software while using an Office application or uninstalling it completely.

If this method wasn’t applicable to your particular scenario, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Running Microsoft FixIt 50123

Several users encountering the same issue have reported that the problem was resolved indefinitely after running one particular Microsoft FixIt. After running the Microsoft FixIt 50123 and restarting the computer, the issue went away for good in some cases.

Here’s a quick guide on running the Microsoft FixIt 50123 tool to resolve the ‘This modification is not allowed because the selection is locked’ error:

  1. Visit this link (here) to download Microsoft Fixit 50123.
  2. Open the .msi installer and follow the on-screen prompts to install the fix on your system.
    Installing the Microsoft FixIt
  3. Once the installation is complete, restart your computer and see if the error message has been resolved.

Method 4: Modifying the document’s properties

If you find that a single element of your text is uneditable (most likely the Title), it’s very likely that the issue originates from the metadata of the file.

Several users encountering the same issue have reported that they were able to resolve the issue by going into the document’s properties and changing the title from there. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Open the document in the program that is displaying the error.
  2. Click on File from the Ribbon bar at the top.
  3. Click on Info from the left-hand menu, then move over to the right-hand side. There, click on the drop-down menu associated with Properties and choose Advanced Menu.
    Advanced Properties
  4. In the Advanced Properties menu, go to the Summary tab and modify the Title, Subject or whatever else metadata you need to. Don’t forget to hit Ok to save the changes.
    Modifying the metadata of the document

    If this method wasn’t applicable to your particular scenario, move down to the next method below.

Method 5: Disabling ‘Restrict Editing’ via the Developer tab

If you discover that the error message is coming from a single element of the document, the issue might be connected to a template that the file in question is trying to use.

Several users encountering the same error message have reported that they managed to resolve the issue by enabling the Developer tab and deselecting the option ‘Content control cannot be deleted’. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Inside the Office program that is triggering the error, go to File > Options.
    Accessing the Options menu
  2. In the Options menu, select Customize Ribbon from the left-hand side menu. Then, go to the list of items under Customize the Ribbon and make sure the box associated with the Developer tab is checked.
    Enabling the Developer tab
  3. Return to the actual document and click on the newly appeared Developer tab. Then, click on Restrict Editing to disable the option and resolve the issue.
    Disabling the ‘Restrict Editing’ option via the Development tab
  4. Restart the Office application and see if you can select and modify text without issues.

If you’re still encountering the same error message, move down to the next method below.

Method 6: Activating your Office Suite

The ‘This modification is not allowed, because the selection is locked‘ error can be a symptom that your Office trial has expired and you need to activate it with the key.

If this scenario is applicable to your current situation, you’ll have to buy a new software key or use free alternatives like LibreOffice, OpenOffice or WPS Office.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.