Fix: Word Cannot Complete the Save due to a File Permission Error

The error message ‘Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error’ occurs while saving files in Microsoft Word. This error message can occur randomly as well as in targeted cases. This scenario is most common where the file came from an external source or if its author is someone else rather than your computer.

Word cannot complete the save due to a File Permission Error Windows 10
Word cannot complete the save due to a File Permission Error

Permission errors have been there in Microsoft Word since they introduced file protection mechanisms. They are sometimes bugged or they are caused by genuine conditions. In addition, this error message is also caused by third-party Antivirus software who try to implement data protection on all Microsoft Office files.

What causes ‘Word cannot complete the save due to a File Permission Error’?

The reasons why the error occurs in more detail are:

  • The document which you are trying to save is previously saved as ‘read-only’ or as a ‘template’.
  • The location where you are trying to save or the file you are trying to access doesn’t have suitable permissions for your user account.
  • You are trying to modify a file from a network shared folder.
  • Antivirus software on your computer is conflicting with the saving process.
  • There is naming conflict of the file on your computer. This is very common especially for shared/already created files.

Before you proceed with the solutions, make sure that you have a valid copy of Microsoft office, an active internet connection, and an administrator account on your computer.

Solution 1: Saving the document as a different name

This error message is mostly resolved in an instant if you change the name of the file when saving it. This is mostly valid in conditions where the document is not created by you or came from an external source; either from another computer or through the network. You might still get the error when you press ‘Save’. Instead, we will select ‘Save as’ and save the document with another name.

  1. Press on File and select Save as.
Saving document with a different name in Microsoft Word in Windows 10
Saving document with a different name – Word
  1. Now select a location and change the name of the file. Type a number in front of it or change its name entirely.
Changing name and location of document - Word in Windows 10
Changing name and location of document – Word
  1. The file will be saved instantly and the previous file which you were editing will stay as it is. Also, make sure that you save the file to your local computer (for example in Desktop) instead of in removable devices.

Solution 2: Disabling Antivirus Software

There have been numerous reports that Antivirus software like Semantic or Norton causes the permission issue. These Antivirus software try to protect your personal files and folders by making sure they are not changed by other software or users.

In some cases, they give a false positive and block access to the document even if it can be saved logically. There are several features which Antivirus software implement such as File Protection in Semantic. McAfee even released an official documentation about this and claimed to fix it in one of their updates. You should try updating your Antivirus software and if that doesn’t work, you can check our article on How to Turn Your Antivirus Off.

Solution 3: Checking in Safe Mode

If both the above methods don’t work for you, we can move on and try starting Microsoft Word in Safe Mode. The Safe Mode disables all the add-ins loaded and starts the application with a minimal set of drivers. If there is a problem with your profile or if any plugin is acting out, we can diagnose using this method.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “winword /safe” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
Opening Word in Safe Mode in Windows 10
Opening Word in Safe Mode
  1. Microsoft Word will now be opened in Safe Mode. Click on File > Open and navigate to the file which you are trying to open/edit.
Opening document in Word on Windows 10
Opening document – Word
  1. Execute your changes in this and try saving. If it saves perfectly, it probably means that either your add-ins are causing issues or your user profile is corrupt.
  2. To disable your add-ins, click on File > Options > Add-ins and click Go in front of COM Add-in.
Disabling add-ins in Word on Windows 10
Disabling add-ins
  1. All the add-ins will be listed here. Disable each of them one by one and restart Word. Check if the error message went away. This way you will be able to diagnose which add-in is causing issues. If none of the add-ins are causing issues, you should make a new user profile on your computer and try editing and saving the document there.

You check our article on How to Create a New User Account and Transfer all the Data to it?

Solution 4: Taking ownership of the file

If all the above methods don’t work, it is best to see if the file actually belongs to you. If it came from an external user, the owner will be that computer and you may have limited access. This might be the reason why you are not able to make changes to the document.

Taking ownership of document
Taking ownership of document

You can follow the steps listed in our article Fix: Can’t Delete folder on Windows 10. You can replicate the steps listed here for your word document; the ownership process is the same whether you are taking ownership of a folder or a file.

Solution 5: Updating Windows and Microsoft Word

If all the above don’t work or you are greeted with the error time to time, it is best to see if there are any updates pending for your Windows/Microsoft Word. Each Windows update is usually accompanied with an Office security update in which bugs are removed and security methods updated.

If you are holding back from the update, we strongly recommend that you update everything right away.

  1. Press Windows + S, type “update” in the dialogue box and open the Settings application.
  2. Once in Settings, click on Check for Updates.
Updating Windows and Microsoft Office
Updating Windows
  1. The computer will now connect with Microsoft servers and see if there are any updates available for installation. After installing all updates (including Windows and Microsoft Office), restart your computer completely and check if the error is resolved.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Word Cannot Complete the Save due to a File Permission Error

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Reimage Plus which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage by clicking the Download button below.

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