Troubleshoot Office error "Your account doesn't allow editing on a Mac"

Applies to: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) installed on Apple Mac, for current University students and staff


On opening any Office application or document, the system shows an error message "Your account can view documents, but it doesn't allow editing on Mac. To edit, use another account activate Office"

Solution 1 - Check the Office plan for your Oxford account

  1. Login to the Office 365 portal using your Oxford SSO ( and credentials
  2. Select the Profile icon  > View Account > Subscriptions
  3. Look for "Latest desktop version of office" in all of the subscriptions displayed

If this feature is not listed then please contact the service desk so we can help to get your account subscriptions corrected.

Solution 2 - Refresh Office activation

  1. Open Word
  2. If you are shown a "What's New" window then follow the prompts or read Microsoft's guide to activate Office for Mac
  3. Otherwise, open the Keychain Access app (Finder > Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access), search for "Office", and delete all entries (normally between 2 and 6 entries). Also search for "ADAL" and "unknown" and remove any matching entries. Opening Word should now show the "What's New" prompt

Solution 3 - Remove existing license files

  1. Launch each Office app (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), select the application name and choose sign out, then quit the application
  2. In Finder, browse to folder ~/Library/Group Containers
  3. Locate the following three entries and drag them to the Trash:
  4. Empty Trash
  5. Open Word and sign in / activate if prompted

Solution 4 - Reinstall Office

  1. Follow Microsoft's instructions to uninstall Office for Mac
  2. Follow Microsoft's instructions to download and install Microsoft 365 / Office 2021 or Office 2019 / Office 2016 / Office 2013

Further information

If the procedures above have not resolved the error then please contact your local IT support.

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