[FIX] The File Couldn’t Open in Protected View

Protected View is a security layer provided by Microsoft. It is a read-only mode in which most editing functions are disabled. Additionally, Protected View is enabled by default. Moreover, this is useful when opening files from unknown locations on your computer, the Internet, or through Microsoft Outlook.

Although this mode is enabled for security purposes, there are reports from users that Protected View also causes issues. Users have said that opening files either shows that they are corrupt or they remain stuck on the opening screen. This issue occurs when opening either a Microsoft Word or Excel document. Also, the files causing issues are mostly downloaded from Microsoft Outlook.

The file couldn’t open in Protected View

The solutions and workarounds provided here have been taken from reliable sources. Hence, the solutions are from users as well as Microsoft Insiders.

Disable Protected View

The first solution is to disable Protected View settings. This is a very common workaround for files secured by Information Rights Management (IRM) not opening in Protected View. IRM embeds the user permissions and encryptions directly into the file as it may contain sensitive data. This issue occurs mostly when opening Excel files. However, this solution can be applied to other Microsoft Office applications as well. To disable Protected View

  1. First, open MS Excel or MS Word.
  2. Second, click on Options in the bottom-left corner.
    Click on Options
  3. Click on Trust Center. Then, click on Trust Center Settings.
    Click Trust Center Settings
  4. Under Protected View make sure that all options are unchecked.
    All options unchecked
  5. Then, click on OK and then OK.

Again, remember this is only a workaround and only recommended when opening the file is important. Consequently, only try this method if you have a strong antivirus installed.

Resetting Trust Center Settings

This solution was provided in the case of a Windows update or Office 365 update causing changes in the Trust Center Settings. Microsoft is known for pushing updates that change the settings of certain apps as a direct effect or indirectly. Therefore, you will have to manually reset your Trust Center Settings to default. By default, Protected View is enabled. To reset your settings

  1. First, open MS Excel or MS Word.
  2. Second, click on Options in the bottom-left corner.
  3. Click on Trust Center. Then, click on Trust Center Settings.
    Click on Trust Center Settings
  4. Lastly, under Protected View make sure that the following options are checked
  • Enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet.
  • Enable Protected View for files located in potentially unsafe locations.
  • Enable Protected View for Outlook attachments.
    Default Settings
  1. Then, click on OK and then OK.

Repair Office Application

This solution is for when the above-mentioned solutions do not work. If you keep getting “the file couldn’t open in protected view” error, then the issue can be within the MS Office application. In this case, the solution is to perform a repair of MS Office. To perform a repair

  1. Depending on the copy of your application follow the relevant instructions. Here we will list the Click-to-run repair instructions.
  2. First, press the Windows key and enter Settings.
    Settings App
  3. Click Apps and then go to Apps and Features.
    Apps and Features
  4. Scroll down to find the particular application which is not opening the file.
  5. Click on the application name (here it is Microsoft Office).
  6. Then, click on Modify.
    Modify App
  7. After that click on Yes.
    Click on Yes
  8. Then, in the window that opens check Quick Repair.
    Choose Quick Repair
  9. Click on Repair.
  10. However, if the issue still persists repeat the above steps and try Online Repair. It takes longer, but your issue will be resolved.
    Online Repair

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.