What to Do if You Forgot Your Word Document Password?

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

We’ve all been there: You make an important Word document, lock it with a password to keep it safe, and then as time goes by, you forget the password. When you try to open it again, none of your passwords work. What can you do?

Securing important documents is a big deal, and Microsoft Word lets you do that with a password. But if you forget your password, it’s like locking your keys inside your car. This article will help you figure out what to do if you can’t remember your Word document password.

Forget Microsoft Word Document Password

What happens when you forget your word document password?

If you forget your Microsoft Word document password, you’re stuck outside. Microsoft says “if you lose or forget the password, it cannot be recovered. It is advisable to keep a list of passwords and their corresponding document names in a safe place.” So, Microsoft can’t help you get back into your document, and there’s no “Forget Password” option in Word.

Recover Forgotten Word Document Password

Trying to open a locked Word document and getting it wrong will show an error message, “The password is incorrect. Word cannot open the document. (Example.docx)“. This means you can’t get in, change anything, or share the document without the right password. The security on these documents is tough, to keep unwanted people out. Even Microsoft can’t bypass this for you.

Related resource: How to Convert Word DOC to JPG in Windows 11/10

Recovering the Word document password: A complex but possible option

If you’ve lost your Word document password and don’t have any backups or older versions, you might try special software that tries to guess the password for you. But, keep these things in mind:

  1. Only try to crack passwords on documents you own or have permission to access. Anything else is illegal.
  2. There’s no promise that these tools will work. Depending on how complex your password is, it might take forever or not work at all.
  3. Most good password recovery tools cost money. You’ll need to shop around.
  4. Downloading and using these tools can be risky. You could end up with a virus.

How to recover lost Word document password

While we’re not pointing you to specific tools, make sure you look into your options well. Look for tools that are meant for Microsoft Office or Word, and check out what others say about them online.

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Exploring open source options: GitHub for the tech-savvy

If you’re good with computers and coding, GitHub has a bunch of free projects that might help you get your Word document password back. But it’s not always easy:

  1. You should know a bit about programming and software to use these tools right.
  2. Unlike paid tools, these free projects might need you to do a lot of setup work yourself.
  3. Downloading software always has a risk of viruses, so pick trusted projects.
  4. These tools might not work as well as the ones you pay for, so no guarantees.

Free password recovery for Microsoft Word document

To try this, search on GitHub for “Word password recovery” or similar terms, and read up on the projects to see if they’re right for you.

Handy guide: How to Password Protect a Folder in Windows 11 or 10

Finding a backup or older version of the Word document

Sometimes, the easiest way to get back into a locked Word document is to find an older version that wasn’t locked. If you regularly back up your files or your system does it for you, you might find what you need:

  1. Look through your backups for an older, unlocked version of the document.
  2. If your document is stored in a cloud service with version history, like OneDrive or Google Drive, you might be able to go back to an older version without a password.Remove Word Document Password
  3. Check your email’s sent folder if you’ve ever sent the document as an attachment. There might be an unlocked version there.
  4. If you shared the document with someone before adding a password, ask them if they have an unlocked version.
  5. There’s software that tries to find older versions of files, but it’s a long shot.

Pro tip: Recover Permanently Deleted Emails in Windows 11 Mail App

Things to consider

  • You need to have a backup or older version of the document that isn’t locked.
  • If the document has changed a lot since then, you might lose some updates.

By finding an older or backup version of your Word document, you might skip the need for password recovery, even though you might lose some newer changes.

What have we learned?

Forgetting your Word document’s password can really stress you out. There are a few ways to get around this problem, but each option has its own hurdles. The smartest move is to avoid getting into this situation in the first place:

  1. Keep a list of your passwords and which documents they unlock somewhere safe. A password manager is a good tool for this job. It’s like keeping all your keys in one secure spot so you don’t lose them.Forgot Word Document Password
  2. Make it a habit to save copies of your important files. Use more than one place to store them, like cloud services that let you go back to previous versions of a file.
  3. If you have to share a document that’s locked with a password, make sure you give out the password in a way that’s secure.
  4. Before you lock a document with a password, double-check that it’s something you’ll remember or put it somewhere safe right away.

In short, forgetting a password for a Word document is a headache, but not a disaster. You’ve got options for getting back in, from using special software to looking for an old version that isn’t locked. Whatever you do, just be sure you’re being careful, ethical, and legal.

It pays to be prepared. A bit of forward-thinking can save you from a lot of trouble later.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Microsoft help me recover my Word document password?

No, Microsoft has made it clear that they can’t help if you forget or lose your Word document’s password.

Is it legal to use password-recovery software?

Yes, but only on documents that are yours or if you’ve got permission to use them. Using this kind of software without permission is against the law.

Are there free tools available for password recovery?

You might find free tools, especially on places like GitHub. But how well they work can vary, and you often need to know a bit about technology to use them.

How long does it take to recover a Word document password?

It depends. Some passwords can be cracked in minutes, but tougher ones could take longer—even days.

What should I do to avoid forgetting my Word document password in the future?

  1. Consider using a password manager for keeping all your passwords safe.
  2. Or, keep a physical list in a secure spot.
  3. Don’t forget to back up your files regularly, and it’s a good idea to have versions without passwords too.

Are password-protected Word documents completely secure?

They’re pretty tight, but nothing’s perfect. Weak passwords or dodgy recovery software could put your document at risk.

Can I remove the password from my Word document?

Yes, if you know the current password. Just open the document, click on “File”, then “Info”, and go to “Protect Document”. You can remove the password from there.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of WindowsDigitals.com. With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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