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Pete, Computer Expert
Category: Microsoft Office
Satisfied Customers: 15479
Experience:  MS Office expert
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"This document cannot be opened because it is in use by another

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"This document cannot be opened because it is in use by another user. Do you want to make a copy?" This message occurs quite often and all in the office deny that they have the file open. Is there any other reason for this message?



Welcome to JustAnswer!

I am Pete, and I'll be happy to assist with your question.


This is a common problem with shared documents accessed over networks - it is not always due to a guilty person still having the document open.

Anything that accesses files in real time (antivirus, syncing, backups or indexing software) can also cause this message to appear.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If it is not due to a guilty person then why does it happen, and what can be done? Does my small office need to call in an expert to correct the issue? Is it a serious issue?

Hi Gai,
This happens because other network applications have the files open, not humans.
For example, an antivirus program may have access to the file as it performs a periodic scan of all files just as you try to open it. Or some backup software may be accessing the file if a backup has been scheduled. If the file is synced with a folder at a different network location, this may also be periodically locking and checking the file.
It's quite normal in a network environment to get this issue from time to time and it's no cause for alarm. If it is causing a lot of problems, you can try to eliminate it by scheduling anti-virus software to run less frequently, backups to run at night, etc.
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