How to Edit a Protected Word Document

Protected Word documents are used to ensure that accidental editing does not occur. The protected document feature is generally used with forms and merge documents, although there is nothing preventing its use on complete documents. Protected documents can be assigned a password, which makes editing impossible if the correct key is not known.

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A sample protected document--only fields are editable

Step

Open the protected document in Word 2007 or 2010. Check to see if the "Developer" tab is visible on the ribbon.

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The Developer tab should be visible between the "View" and "Add-ins" tabs
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Select the Word Options button

Step

Use this step only if the "Developer" tab is not visible: On the Office button, choose Word Options at the bottom of the window.

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Check this box

Step

Use this step only if the "Developer" tab is not visible: Check the box marked "Show Developer tab in the Ribbon."

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The highlighted "Protect Document" button on the ribbon's Developer tab

Step

Open the document. Select the "Developer" tab on the Ribbon. On a protected document, the "Protect Document" button will be highlighted. Select this, and a task pane will open on the right.

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Stop Protection button at bottom of task pane (task pane is truncated in this graphic)

Step

Select the "Stop Protection" button at the bottom of the task pane. The document is now ready for editing.

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The "Protect Document" task pane

Step

Edit the document. To protect it again, choose the "Protect Document" button on the Developer tab. A task pane will open on the right. Select the options to be enforced and then the "Yes, Start enforcing protection" button.