The file couldn’t open in Protected View [Excel, Word]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Users have complained about Protected View errors that arise when opening MS Word and Excel documents (usually attached to Outlook emails).
  • This troubleshooting guide includes potential fixes for Protected View errors.
  • To always be updated with the latest information, check out our detailed Software Hub.
  • Don't hesitate to explore our Microsoft Office section for other guides relating to this topic.
fix the file couldn't open in Protected View

Some MS Office users have said on Microsoft’s support forum that they can’t open Excel and Word files in Protected View. For them, this feature has stopped working or The file couldn’t open in Protected View error messages might pop up.

Here is what one user had to say about this specific issue on the Microsoft Answers forums:

Recently it seems I can not open any Excel or Word files in Protected View. This was not a problem previously, but seems all of a sudden all files get hung up trying to open in Protected View; and I have to force quit the program.

This error usually arises for Excel and Word files that were attached to Outlook emails.

The issue can be due to antiquated DisplayLink adapter drivers. If you need to fix that issue, check out these potential resolutions for it.

How can I fix the Word and Excel Protected View error?

1. Use the Stellar Repair software

Word File Repair Tool

The Word File Repair Tool from Stellar is the best software to use when you need to repair Word files that have been corrupted, without losing any of the data stored in them.

This amazing software can repair files in batches, which enables you to quickly go through a list of corrupted Word files without the need to waste any time.

When using this tool to repair your files, you should never worry about specific elements of your Word document, as this app repairs text, font, hyperlinks, headers, footers, bookmarks, etc.

Get Stellar Word Repair 

Repair Excel Tool

This powerful software is extremely useful for repairing Excel Attachments from Outlook, and also any corrupted Excel files on your PC.

As in the case of it’s Word counterpart, this software produced by Stellar also offers you batch processing of files, while also recovering any tables, charts, chart sheets, cell comments, images, formulas, sorts, and filters.

This software also offers full compatibility with MS Excel versions: 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003 & 2000, so you never have to worry about this either.

Get Stellar Excel Repair


2. Update the DisplayLink driver with DriverFix

DriverFix automatically update drivers

You can easily update the DisplayLink driver by using the powerful and easy-to-use DriverFix.

DriverFix is a driver updater software with a massive driver database and super quick scanning speed. The Pro version will also automatically install updated drivers.

Another good thing about DriverFix is its scheduling manager. With that feature, you can schedule regular driver scans, as well as notifications for updates and backups.

Other useful features of DriverFix

  • Driver backup tool
  • A download manager that displays driver download progress
  • Live support provided for software (which includes live chat)
  • Streamlined UI design enables quick and straightforward driver updates
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3. Disable Protected View settings

  1. Open your MS Word or Excel application.
  2. Next, select the File tab.
  3. Click Options to open a settings window.
    Word Options window the file couldn't open in Protected View
  4. Select Trust on the left side of the window.
  5. Click the Trust Center Settings button.
  6. Select Protected View on the left of the Trust Center window.
    Protected View options the file couldn't open in Protected View
  7. Then deselect all the selected Enable Protected View checkboxes.
  8. Press the OK button to leave the window.

4. Disable hardware graphics acceleration

  1. To disable hardware graphics acceleration, open Excel or Word.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Then click Options on the File tab to open that window.
  4. Select the Advanced tab on the Options window.
    Disable hardware graphics acceleration option the file couldn't open in Protected View
  5. Select the checkbox for the Disable hardware graphics acceleration option.
  6. Press the OK button to exit the window.

5. Unblock the Excel or Word document

  1. Click the File Explorer button on Windows 10’s taskbar.
  2. Open the folder that includes MS Word or Excel files the file couldn’t open in Protected View error arises for.
  3. Then right-click a World or Excel document and select Properties to open the window shown directly below.
    Unblock option the file couldn't open in Protected View
  4. Select the Unblock option.
  5. Press the Apply button.
  6. Click OK to exit.

Those are some of the resolutions users have fixed Excel and Word Protected View errors with.

Disabling protected view will probably resolve the issue for most users, but you can try the other fixes if you need to keep protected view enabled.

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