How to Unlock a Joomla Article?

Literally every week we either receive a phone call or an email from a client telling us that one of his articles is now marked as “checked out” and is locked for editing. They tell us that they’re unable to unlock these articles to edit them. They then ask, why was the article locked in the first place?

Joomla has this not so smart functionality where someone opens an article for editing, it locks it, so that other people trying to edit the article won’t be able to. This functionality is very old (it dates back to the Mambo era) and it guarantees that no 2 people are working on the same article at the same time (which will guarantee no one is overwriting somebody else’s edits). The lock is removed once the person who started editing the article clicks on the “Close” button on the top right. Clicking on any other button won’t unlock the article, and clicking on the back button will also keep the article in locked status.

Let us now answer the question in the tile, how to unlock a Joomla article. When an article is locked, there are 3 ways to unlock it:

1- The same person who locked the article in the first place either closes the article (if it’s still open) or opens the article again, and then closes it.
2- A super administrator logs in to the Joomla administrative panel, and then click on System (or Tools, depending on the Joomla version), and then clicks on Global Checkin. This will unlock all the locked articles.
3- Someone logs in to phpMyAdmin (hopefully that someone is a technical person), and then runs the following query: “UPDATE TABLE jos_content SET checked_out = 0”. This will also unlock all locked articles. (Note: You should remove the quotes around the query before trying to run it).

The last option should be the very last resort, and should be done very carefully. In case you need help unlocking a Joomla article, then feel free to contact us.

5 Responses to “How to Unlock a Joomla Article?”
  1. Comment by ray lyn — October 30, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    Thanks for your suggestion(s).

    I did not lock this article and cannot unlock it.
    I cannot close it and the only way out is to LOG OUT.

    I am not the super admin; I am Admin

    Thx for your help.

  2. Comment by Fadi — October 31, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    Hi Ray,

    If you are not a super administrator, then you can’t really unlock the article.

    However, if you have the cpanel or database or FTP credential information for your Joomla website then we’ll be able to unlock it for you.

  3. Pingback by How to Know Who Has Checked Out an Article/Menu Item/Module in Joomla | itoctopus — August 9, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    […] have explained How to unlock a Joomla article before – and many of our clients and our readers benefited from our post – since we […]

  4. Comment by Riaan — February 13, 2018 @ 6:19 pm


    All of my articles are locked in my Joomla admin.

    I upgraded to the latest version of Joomla 3.8.5, and now when I try to edit an article, a lock appears next to the article.

    I’ve tried the global “check-in” features and have cleared the cache. I’ve tried what you have said, except for the third option, i’m not technically that savvy so I wouldn’t know how to begin. If you can guide me exactly what I need to do step by step that could help.

    Any help is appreciated, I really don’t know what to do anymore.

    Thanks for your help!

  5. Comment by Fadi — March 29, 2018 @ 11:07 pm

    Hi Riaan,

    It seems that you are having some caching issues caused by an aggressive caching agent. We are going to write about this issue in a future post.

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