Cannot Release Lock on SharePoint Online File

Valued Contributor

SharePoint thinks a user still has a lock on.  I can't adminsitratively do anything with the file online.  This has been going on for almost a day.


We've cleared cache, closed Excel on his computer, cleared out some local cashe directories, rebooted, etc.


Nothing is clearing up this lock.


All I want to do is delete the file at this point, and I can't even do that.


What are my options as a Global Admin?

88 Replies

Yes!! That worked for me.   I've had it several times now where I can't change some attribute values on the document (PowerPoint in this case) because it is locked for editing by me!!

Opening the document in PowerPoint, checking it out and back in removed this lock and I was able to edit the attribute value in SharePoint.


This is what worked for me. After syncing the library and finding the lock symbol on all the files in the library displayed in my File Explorer, this is what I did:

  1. Remove all required column status from all fields. Be sure to include the default Title field. You might have to drill into the Document and/or Item Content Types to get to it. (I have found that it seems to be set as a required field by default in the standard Document content type)
  2. Enable version control inclusive of drafts, be sure it is set for 'anyone who can read'. Save. Then return and disable it. 
  3. Enable Content Approval and save. Then return and disable it.

The key one, for whatever reason, was #3. When I did that, a message box popped up on my monitor saying something like 'you can now edit your files in OneDrive'. When I checked my File Explorer, the locks were gone. I verified today that other users who are syncing this library to their File Explorer are also now able to edit the files (the lock was gone for them, too).


Below is my original post.... LOL.... I was pretty excited to see that this worked. I hope it does for you, too.


Out of desperation, I enabled Content Approval and then disabled Content Approval and.....

Low and behold I got a pop up from ODB saying 'You can now edit your files'. I opened my File Explorer....yes...wait for it....and the LOCK WAS GONE!  OMG, I spent hours on this to find that it was one check box for a feature I'd never enabled for the library. Why it was affecting its performance, I haven't a clue, but it worked. WHEW!


I had the same issue and this worked for me:


Close Excel

Open the document library where the file is located. Select the file and delete.

Go to the recycle bin and restore the file. 

Open the file again and nos I can edit.


It looks like there are different solutions or should I say workarounds for the same problem.


Wouldn't it be nice if Microsoft came out with a clear and concise and permanent solution!?


I can understand that sometimes a file is locked by a different user for, what I think, are obvious reasons.


What I do not understand is that the file is locked by myself for editing.  Yet when I try to access it for this exact purpose SharePoint won't let me.


Having to wait for a short period for the file to unlock is just not good enough and that doesn't always work anyway.

Best Response confirmed by Alan Umanos (Microsoft)

Locks is a complex topic and technically a client or network issue. SharePoint supports co-authoring locks unless you have Check In/Out enabled on the library. Client side locks will occur if Office cannot negotiate a co-author lock falling back to an exclusive lock. As others have pointed out, the upload center can contribute to locking and is one of the first things you should check. You can trace the calls via Fiddler on the client.


This is the technical explanation from PSS:


When a user attempts to open an Office file hosted on SharePoint in the Office client, there is an expected set of network calls we should be seeing unless there is a problem. Once a user clicks that Office file to open in client, code on the SharePoint page and (if using Internet Explorer) the Office 365 browser addon sends a command to initialize the client application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Once the Office client application starts launching, Office will start a HTTP conversation with SharePoint. If the Office call is already authenticated, the Office will be returned the file content. However, if not already authenticated, which is usually expected to be the case, Office will negotiate for Authentication with SharePoint. This process happens through two networking calls called OPTIONS calls. The first OPTIONS call is anonymous and expected to be rejected by SharePoint as to establish what types of authentication SharePoint will accept. The second options call will include the requested authentication information to SharePoint. If SharePoint accepts the second options, call, it will return a METHOD call, identifying what network verbs can be used to communicate with it (OPTIONS, GET, LOCK, PROPFIND, and POST are all examples of verbs for this process). Once the verbs are established the Office client will make a POST network call that requests the metadata for the file, adds the user’s session lock state (coauthor lock or exclusive lock) and to request to open the file from the CellStorage web service in SharePoint. If the Office client has never accessed the document before, the entire document will be downloaded from SharePoint and cached in the Office Document Cache. If the Office client has opened the file before, then it is already cached and only the changes will be downloaded. At this point, the Office file will open in the Office client. This entire process happens between a few milliseconds to a few seconds.




I just went through this whole situation with a user who had created a file last night, edited it and shared it with two other employees who also edited the file last night.

This morning no one could edit the file due to multiple locks.

When trying to delete it said user had the file locked for offline editing.

When opening the file in local Word, the file showed it was being edited offline by said user on 4 different devices.

I found that there is a document cache in the Upload Center.

Once we logged the user in to every device they use and deleted the troublesome file from his Upload Center document cache, the file was able to be deleted.

I hope that helps someone.


For Microsoft Teams MS aknowledged a global issue with the Teams vs SharePoint vs OneDrive vs security services integration. Development team is looking at it. Solution can only be expected at a new update what can take still months. (On Office365)

First time I encountered this, I realized I had the file open in a different browser tab which was minimized and out-of-view. So, my mistake, I really did have the file locked for use by me.


I seems that i have the exact same problem as you describe. 

Sees like I have the exact same issue as you describe here.

When someone opens an Office file in the Office Online feature --> the file is locked!

Very nasty when supporting automated processes...


Its very ugly: ScreenHunter_03 Aug. 22 12.14.jpg

Its very user unfriendly: ScreenHunter_04 Aug. 22 12.31.jpg


Maybe an idea to support =

Doug, thank you so much! The check out check in and open the file in the actual program and not the online version really worked. =)
Over a year later, your investigative work still helps users, thanks Doug.

I am also experiencing this issue,, and the page you sent cannot be found.   Please advise the suggested fix for this problem...  thank you.

Also having this issue here, on and off.

It was a suspected issue with Chrome a few months ago, so we updated Chrome and that seem to resolve the problem, but it is back again.

Very off-putting for new users of SharePoint.

It seems we are waiting on a major update, hopefully autumn this year.

As I understood MS is working on the full integration of SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams regarding file handling. The bug in Teams on locking files when doing online or in Teams editing is also a result from this not being properly integrated yet. Also complete security management is involved. Let's hope MS is not overstepping its capabilities here and will find a solution soon. This locking issue is really blocking global adoption and deployment from as well classic SharePoint as Teams.



Thanks a lot Doug. This issue was driving me nuts today. Thanks to your post I am sane again. 


This would be nice if I could actually download Word. I'm using an Education Office 365 email for my documents and I can't exactly find a way to actually download apps themselves. I guess I'm going to be stuck with a broken Word document forever.


The solution I found was to Restore the locked out file to a previous version. That essentially kicks the user (who the file thinks is editing) out and allows you to then rename/ delete/ move etc the file again.


This is a persistent issue with something fundamental to Office 365 and seriously needs looking in to by @Office Microsoft !!


I just discovered a strange variation of this issue:

When clicking a document, Word Online will open the document in a new browser tab.

If you close that tab before Word Online has completed loading, a document lock has already been set.

But not released. Even if you open the same document with the same user again.

Users are able to edit the document, because of the co-authoring feature.

But you cannot rename / delete or restore versions.

You will get the error "The file ... is locked for shared use by <the last user who edited the document>"

Until the lost lock has been kicked by some cloud-service job. Normally means next morning...