Making a TFS Branch Read-Only

Right-click the branch in the Source Control Explorer, and select the Lock… option

EDIT:
This seems to get missed a lot when people are finding this so I’ll make it more obvious.

Locks appear as a “pending change” for the person who locked the item. As long as the lock is in effect, it will appear as a pending change. When a commit is made of that pending change, the lock is released. While the lock is in effect, the locked branch is effectively read-only, since (to simplify) the locker is the only user who can make commits. The act of committing is what releases any locks on the branch.

h/t @AakashM for pointing that out in the comments

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