How to Protect a Worksheet in Excel

Updated on: January 3, 2023

Locking cells can be beneficial, especially when two or more people are working on the same spreadsheet. However, sometimes you must protect your entire worksheet from being edited. In other cases, you must unlock cells or ranges in the protected worksheet. So, keep reading because this article will teach you how to do all of these!

Protect an entire worksheet

Protecting an entire worksheet in Excel can be easy since all cells are locked. You only need to: 

  1. Switch to the “Review” tab.
  2. Next, search the “Protect” command group.
  3. Finally, click on the “Protect sheet” command.

Like locking a cell, this command will open a pop-up window that asks you to type a password to unprotect it, so remember to choose the one you can remember because there is no way to reset it.

Once you have it, in the dialog box where you put the password, you can warrant some actions like sorting, formatting, etc. If you don’t enable them, the operations won’t be allowed to use them.

In the same pop-up window, in the “Allow users of this worksheet to” checkbox list, you can also see that the “Select locked cells” and the “Select unlock cells” options are already marked. This means that everyone who has access to the protected worksheet will be allowed to click on the cell to observe the content and formulas but won’t be able to change them. Afterward all above, here you have some other considerations:

  • You can’t check “Select locked cells” and uncheck “Select unlocked cells” simultaneously. But you can uncheck the “Select locked cells,” but in this case, the user only will be able to navigate along the spreadsheet through the unlocked cells.
  • When you uncheck both options above, you create a read-only document.
  • If you want the user allowed to do specific actions, you must mark it from the checkbox list because all the operations are unchecked by default.
  1. After having all these things clear, and when you consider that all the settings are done, click on “OK” to confirm.

Unlock a worksheet

Of course, let's make the contrary case: you've received a locked worksheet, and you ought to edit it. So the first thing you must know is if the sheet has a password. If so, you just need to type it and click "OK" to unlock it.

In case of having several protected worksheets in an Excel Workbook, you must follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the “File” menu tab. (The one where you can rename your file and obtain all the information of your document).
  2. Click on the “Info” option.
  3. In the “Protect Workbook” section, click on “Unprotect” for the worksheets you need (these are written in green and underlined just in front of the name of the sheets)

Note: You must enter the password for each sheet you want to unlock.

Editing specific ranges:

There are some situations where you can permit different people to edit particular cells than others. To add separate passwords to ranges in a worksheet, you just need to follow the steps below

  1. Switch to the "Review" tab.
  2. Click on "Allow Edit ranges."
  3. Click on "New" from the "Allow Users to Edit Ranges" pop-up window.
  4. In the "New range" dialog box, set the Title for the first range.
  5. In the "Refers to cell" field, put the specific range you need.

Example: “=A1:D24”

  1. Finally, establish a password in the “Range password” field.
  2. Click “OK.”
  3. Excel will ask you to confirm the password, so you must type it again.
  4. Click “OK” again.

After that, you will return to the "Allow Users to Edit Ranges" dialog box, so you must repeat the steps to the three (3) to nine (9) processes with the new ranges and a new password.

Don’t forget to protect the sheet when you’re done because remember that locking cells or ranges have no effect unless the worksheet is protected. After that, type a standard password for the worksheet, and pass it with the specific password of the range to the people you need to edit it.

Protect a Workbook

Next to “Protect Sheet,” you can find the “Protect Workbook” option, which doesn’t affect the lock or unlock cells or ranges operations. This command will prevent users from making structural changes like moving sheets, hiding, deleting, and adding columns or rows unless they put in the password to make them.

Protect an Excel file

This is a method by which you can lock the entire file so that users must put the password to view the content. To do this, you just take the following steps:

  1. Switch to the “File” tab.
  2. Click on the “Info” option.
  3. Select the “Protect Workbook” dropdown.
  4. Click on “Encrypt with “Password.”
  5. Type the password you want.

Now anyone must put the password to open the file, and if you received a protected worksheet, make sure to have the corresponding passwords.

There you have it! There are many ways by which you can protect your data, just try them yourself and find what you consider fits you better.

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
Access 2,701+ video lessons. Instantly.
Start Learning Now →
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram