Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to unprotect a Master document to be able to edit it directly

10 Rabiulakhir 1432H

For those who have written a thesis or a novel, they're pretty familiar or at least have and idea of what a Master document is. Previously I've had the experience of writing a thesis using Microsoft Word (Word), and am currently using OpenOffice Writer (Writer).

Personally, i think Writer isn't as user-friendly as Word. Changes made in Writer's Master document freezes when applying changes such as updating links or scrolling. But then again it could be because my file is loaded with pictures, links, texts, pages, graphs, etc.

One thing i like about Word's Master document is that, you can straight away edit the document there and then. As for Writers's Master document, you'd have to open the sub-document in another window, edit there, probably save it, then update the Master document -- you can't simply edit the Master document directly. That's what i thought until i found out the reason why it is so wickedly complex... my Writer's Master document is write-protected! And there was no clue what was going on or what to do!

I know it's protected because the Formatting toolbar is grayed-out (Pic 1) and no matter how furiously you click *and lash-out*, nothing happens. Also when you try to type something, you get a warning (Pic 2).

Pic 1 - Formatting toolbar is locked.

Pic 2 - Write-protect warning. Readonly content cannot be changed. No modifications will be accepted.

Here's how to remove the protection on your sub-documents so that you can directly edit them in the Master document.

1. From the toolbar, click Format > Sections.... See Pic 3.

Pic 3 - Refer Step 1.

2. A pop-up window appears. In the Edit Sections pop-up window, under the Section section, select the document you want to unprotect. See Pic 4.

My document is named 22. Appendices.odt.

Pic 4 - Refer Step 2, 3, and 4. Edit Sections pop-up window.

3. Still in the Edit Sections pop-up window, under the Write Protection section, there is a Protected option with a tick-box next to it. Untick this box. Then click the OK button. See Pic 4.

4. You will notice that the Formatting toolbar is no longer grayed-out (Pic 5), which means you can now edit straight from the Master document.

Pic 5 - Refer Step 4. The Formatting toolbar is now accessible!


  1. Thank you ever so much! I was getting desperate after some very frustrating hours.

  2. @ Karl de Leeuw
    You're welcome :)

    Lucky for you. You took hours... i took months. lol! :P

  3. Great post, looked at 15 stupid pages before I found yours!

  4. @ Andreas Abel
    Glad you found what you were looking for :)