Edit mode

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope

Alternatively called edit, edit mode is a feature within software that allows the modification of files. A good example of a program with edit mode is MS-DOS Editor. Most programs with edit mode toggle between "view" and "edit." When in the "view mode," the user can only look at the file; however, in "edit mode," the user can view and change its contents. Often, these modes are utilized for files shared between multiple users on a network.


If a file is read-only or you do not have the proper permissions, you cannot edit a file or get into edit mode.

What is editable?

Anything that can be edited (changed) is described as editable. For example, the text on this web page, when viewed online, is not editable. However, the text in a text box like the one shown below is editable.

When text is not editable, some features may not work. For example, the cut feature and shortcut does not work with text that is not editable. You cannot cut any of the text in this paragraph. However, you could cut any of the text in the above.


When text is not editable, you can copy the text and paste it into another program (e.g., word processor) and then edit the text.

Editing a file

Assuming you have all the necessary permissions, any file on your computer can be edited. To edit a document, picture, or another file, open it in an editor that lets you make changes. Once changes are made or the file is otherwise updated, and the file is saved, it was edited. For example, if you wanted to edit a Microsoft Word document, you'd find the file you wanted to edit, open it, make changes, and then save the file as the same name. Below are links to pages on our site that help with the opening, editing, and saving of files.

Can a file be edited on another disk or drive?

Yes. If the file is stored on a drive or disk you have permission to write to, and it's not write-protected, you can edit a file. For example, you could open a file on a USB (universal serial bus) flash drive, edit the file using a program installed on your computer, and then save the file back to the flash drive. This same process could be used with floppy diskettes, external hard drives, network drives, cloud, or any other place you can save files.


You could not edit a file on a CD (compact disc) because they are read-only. Also, although a CD-R (compact disc recordable) and other writable disc is writable, it's difficult to edit a file on a disc because of how they're saved.

How can multiple people edit a file at the same time?

Most programs only support the ability for a file to be edited by one person at a time. If a file is edited by another person or program at the same time, the program may overwrite (delete) previous changes. Many programs are designed to lock a file that's being edited to prevent this type of problem. If a file is locked, it cannot be edited and saved as the same file name.

For file collaboration, a program must be designed to allow multiple people to edit the file simultaneously (e.g., Google Docs), or a CVS (Concurrent Version System) is required.

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