Word Cannot Complete the Save Due to a File Permission Error Mac [Fixed]

The Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error that may occur while saving files in Microsoft Word on your Mac. You can try to fix the file permission error in several ways. Also, learn how to recover unsaved Word documents.

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Updated on

11 May 2024

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9 Min

User problem: a file permission error on Mac.

"I cannot Open or Save a Word file. I get a message that says: WORD CANNOT SAVER DUE TO A FILE PERMISSION ERROR. I am on a Mac and running the most current version of Microsoft Office. I reinstalled Office as well". - A real user problem from answers.microsoft.com

word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error

Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error that can appear randomly on a Mac or Windows computer. The file permission error is mainly caused when your Word document is read-only, your Mac won't allow you to write, or the file names are conflicting. Use the following methods to fix the issue.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Restore Unsaved  Word Documents Some users reported that file permission errors caused the loss of unsaved files...Full steps
Open Word in Safe Mode Safe mode disables all loaded plugins so that you can read and write Word. Remove add-ins...Full steps
Get Ownership of the Word A lack of permissions can cause a Word file permission error on a Mac. Add the permissions...Full steps
Update Microsoft Office Open the Word application. Click "File" > "Account" > "Product Information"...Full steps

Recover Unsaved Word Documents on Mac

If you lose your unsaved documents because Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error, you need to know how to recover unsaved Word documents before exploring the ways to troubleshoot. 

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac to help you recover unsaved documents like Word, Excel, PPT, or PDF in three steps. Click the "Download for Mac button" and install this file recovery tool on your Mac.  Then, take the steps below to restore unsaved files. 

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Step 1. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac, hover the mouse over the device where you lost an unsaved file, and click "Search for lost files".

select the disk to scan

Step 2. After the scan, click "Type", and expand "Unsaved Documents". Click the exact file type - Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Keynote, Pages, or Numbers you lost without saving.

recover unsaved Word files

Step 3. Double-click to preview your unsaved file, select the right version, and click "Recover" to save the file to another secure location on your Mac.

recover unsaved Word files

Did this file recovery software help you get back lost Word documents ? Help others know it by sharing it on your social media.


Fix 2. Open Word in Safe Mode and Disable Add-ins

The Safe Mode disables all the add-ins loaded and starts the Word with a minimal set of drivers. You can start Word in Safe mode to confirm whether the plug-in is the problem.

Open Word in Safe Mode

Hold down the Shift + Control + Option keys simultaneously while opening Word, and release these keys when the Word starts. If Word opens correctly in safe mode, some plugins may be causing the problem. You can troubleshoot by disabling add-ins.

Disable Add-ins in Word 

Step 1. On the top bar, click "Tools" > "Templates and Add-in". 

find Word add-in on Mac

Step 2. If there are some add-ins loaded, choose the ones you need to remove. Make a note of the full path of the add-ins.

choose add-in to delete

Step 3. Go to the full path and drag the add-ins to the Trash. 

Fix 3. Get Ownership of the Word File on a Mac

When an access denied issue occurs when opening, editing, copying, or saving files, then the reason for the problem may be that you don't have full permission to save the file to a location for the user account.

Take the steps below to obtain ownership of the Word files on your Mac.

Step 1. Find the Word file, Right-click (or Ctrl + click) it, and select "Get Info" from the context menu.

go to info of Word

Step 2. Scroll down to "Sharing & Permissions" in the pop-up window. In this section, you will see a list of users and the permissions each has (Read & Write, Read Only, or No Access).

Step 3. Click the lock icon at the bottom corner of the info window. Enter your account password when asked.  Once unlocked, you can change your permissions.

change Word permission on Mac

Step 4. Select the account whose ownership you want to change, and then select Read & Write or Read Only. 

Step 5. Click the gear icon and choose "Apply to enclosed items" to apply the permissions to all files and folders within the Word file. Then, close the info window. 

After this process, try to save your Word again and see if the file permission error disappears.

Fix 4. Update Microsoft Office to the Latest Version

Another effective way to solve the Word cannot save problem is updating the Office to the recent version. 

Step 1. Open the Word application on your Mac. On the top bar, click "Help" > "Check for Updates". 

Step 2. On the Microsoft AutoUpdate window, choose "Automatically keep Microsoft apps up to date" and click "Update" to download and install the available updates.

update Mac Office

Fix 5. Disable Antivirus Software Temporarily

Some users have reported that some anti-virus software can cause problems with permissions missing. This antivirus software attempts to protect your personal files and folders to ensure that other software or users do not change them.

In this case, you can temporarily turn off the anti-virus software to see if Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error still exists. However, Microsoft does not recommend that users close anti-virus software because it can make your computer vulnerable. Therefore, once the problem is solved, you need to turn on the anti-virus software in time.

Word Cannot Complete the Save Due to a File Permission Error Causes

  • The filename has been taken, or the file name isn't corrected or allowed.
  • The add-ins in the configuration prevent you from saving Word files.
  • You haven't obtained full ownership of the computer.
  • Antivirus software tries to protect your computer and prevents files from being saved.
  • Issues with Office and operating systems prevent Word files from being saved.

If you face a Word file permission error when saving a Word document, first check whether the file has the same name or whether the file name is wrong. Use the "Save As" instead of the "Save" option. If these two tips do not solve the problem, try the above fixes for Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error.

Fix Word Cannot Complete the Save Permission Error on Windows 

The ways to fix Word 2010/2013/2016/2019 cannot complete the save due to a file permission error on Mac, which is the same as those on Windows computers.

  • Restart your Windows and Word.
  • Uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office Word.
  • Gain or change the ownership of your Windows.
  • Open Word in Safe Mode and turn off add-ins.
  • Make sure that the Microsoft Office applications and the Windows are updated.

Final Verdicts

This complete guide covers useful solutions to fixing Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error on Mac. You can fix it by fixing damaged files, starting Word in Safe Mode, disabling add-ins and antivirus software, gaining file ownership, etc.

Besides, more tutorials on recovering unsaved Word documents with EaseUS data recovery are demonstrated. I hope you can find all the answers here.

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  • Updated by

    Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization. …
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