Unable to Open a Document Protected by Information Rights Management (IRM)

Information Rights Management (IRM)

Stuck on an IRM-protected document? It means extra security! Check if you have permission to view it. You might need specific software or an update. Make sure your internet’s on and try logging in again. Still no luck? Read the article for solution.

What is Microsoft Information Rights Management (IRM)?

Microsoft Information Rights Management (IRM) is a security feature that helps organizations control access to sensitive information in emails and documents. It works like a digital lock, restricting how recipients can view, copy, print, forward, or modify the content.

Here’s a breakdown of what IRM offers:

  • Access Control: The document creator sets permissions for each recipient. This could be allowing someone to read only, edit, or even setting an expiration date for access.
  • Content Protection: IRM encrypts the document itself, so even if someone unauthorized gets hold of it, they wouldn’t be able to understand the contents.
  • Policy Enforcement: IRM helps organizations comply with data security regulations by ensuring sensitive information isn’t accidentally or intentionally leaked.

Think of IRM as a way to add an extra layer of security to confidential documents. It goes beyond password protection, as it restricts actions even after someone gains access with the right credentials.

Issue Description: Information Rights Management (IRM)

Unable to Open a Document Protected by Information Rights Management (IRM)

Background of Issue

The Information Rights Management (IRM) policies within SharePoint Online are crafted to safeguard sensitive content from unauthorized access. These policies effectively restrict users from printing or saving duplicates of a file. IRM can be implemented across a range of Office documents including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and XPS files

Problem Description:

The document was secured with Information Rights Management (IRM) by its owner because of the sensitive information it contains. Despite having SharePoint permissions, access to open the document cannot be granted without the owner’s authorization. However, the difficulty arises as the document owner has left the organization without extending access to others. 


The following action plan was undertaken to remove the protection:

Action PlanAzure AD

  1. Install the AIPService module: Install-Module -Name AIPService
  2. Connect to the AIPService: Connect-AipService
  3. Enable the AIPService SuperUser feature: Enable-AipServiceSuperUserFeature
  4. Add a SuperUser: Add-AipServiceSuperUser -EmailAddress name@tenant.com

Steps – Affected User Side

  1. Close all Office apps.
  2. Open Run and navigate to %localappdata%\Microsoft.
  3. Rename the folder “MSIPC” as “MSIPC-Backup”.
  4. Download the affected file to your device. This process only works with the file being on the device.
  5. Double-click to open this protected file.
  6. Once the file is open, navigate to File > Info > Protect Document > Restrict Access > Unrestricted Access.

Final Step – Azure AD

  1. Remove SuperUser access: Remove-AipServiceSuperUser -EmailAddress name@tenant.com

Note– Please ensure to replace name@tenant.com with the actual email address.


Microsoft’s IRM empowers you to safeguard sensitive information in emails and documents. It acts like a digital lock, letting the creator control how recipients view and interact with the content. By encrypting documents and setting permissions, IRM minimizes the risk of unauthorized access or accidental leaks. While limitations like software compatibility exist, IRM provides a valuable security layer for organizations dealing with confidential data.

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