InDesign Unlock All On Screen Greyed Out – Find Out Why

Adobe InDesign has massive amounts of features. When something is not working there’s usually an explanation. Let’s see why ‘Unlock’ might be misbehaving.

The main reasons unlock is not available is nothing is locked, the item is on a locked layer or the item is on a master page.

It’s frustrating when you’re in the middle of a job and you suddenly can’t work out why a tool or selection in a dropdown menu is not available. In this article, we’ll look at the different reasons why and how to fix it.

Nothing is Locked

This might seem really obvious but when you try to select an object or text box and you can’t select it, we automatically assume that the item is locked.

We go to the Object Dropdown and find the Unlock All on Spread is greyed out. This means that nothing on the spread that CAN be unlocked is actually locked.

You’re like what? Why can it not be locked? It won’t select. Well if that’s the case, then your object has other attributes attached to it. Read on to find out what they are.

Locked In Layers

The item that you are trying to alter could be part of a locked layer. 

Open your Layers Panel

Show all layers.

If any of the layers have a lock beside them then this is why your objects are locked.

Click Unlock

The items on that layer will now be available for selection.

Master Pages

If an item appears locked but not available to unlock then it’s most likely on a Master Page.

You can tell by a couple of things.

In the Pages Panel – there’s a Letter in the top corner.

Or on the actual document page, the item you are trying to select has a dotted line around it.

You can move it, alter it or delete it on the Master Page but this will alter it everywhere throughout your document. Probably not a great idea.

You can create an alternate Master Page and copy and paste to it and edit it here or Copy and Paste all the items to a Blank Page.

You can also have a ‘Selective Unlock’. By holding Ctrl + Shift and the item you wish to alter. The Master Page dotted lines will disappear and it becomes part of the document page.

The last Master Page solution is to Override the options. This is pretty much the same as the previous point. You are in effect removing any Master Page options on this particular page.

On the Pages Panel – Select the treble lines on the top right corner. Scroll down to Override Page Options.

It’s always good to make a note of which Master Page you are altering if you have more than one Master Page.


There is a possibility that when the document was created a little box was checked. You may not have created the document and so may not be something that you normally do.

The box is Prevent Selection of Locked Objects.

If it is checked it won’t allow you to override the locked objects.

To uncheck it go to Edit – Preferences – General. And uncheck the box.

Correct Tool Selected

This also may sound obvious but sometimes we’re moving around a document so quickly we’re trying to ‘Unlock’ an item and the ‘Unlock all on Screen’ is greyed out because we have the wrong tool selected.

If you have the Text Tool selected, for example, the unlock won’t be available. They just don’t work together. 

You must be in the Selection Tool (Black Arrow) in order to be able to select an item, or for you to be able to unlock in the dropdown.

In conclusion

I find when things go amiss, it’s temporary. You just have to work through the solutions to get back on track.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

InDesign hyperlinks not working

Why is my text highlighted in InDesign

InDesign won’t let me select anything

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on

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