How to Password Protect an Excel File in Just a Minute
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You need to password protect your Excel files to keep your spreadsheets safe.

Email inboxes, social media accounts, even our devices themselves — pretty much anything of importance is secured by some kind of password How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Not Forget How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Not Forget Do you know how to create and remember a good password? Here are some tips and tricks to maintain strong, separate passwords for all of your online accounts. Read More these days. If you rely on an Excel spreadsheet for any reason, it’s well worth considering whether you should add password protection to that too.

Whether you want to restrict access to the whole document, or simply prevent certain people from making changes to the file, it only takes a minute or two to set up a password Improve Web Security by Using Chrome's Auto-Generated Passwords Improve Web Security by Using Chrome's Auto-Generated Passwords Did you know Chrome has a built-in password generator? Read More . If your spreadsheet falls into the wrong hands, the results could be disastrous, so it’s well worth taking the time to give yourself some piece of mind.

How to Password Protect an Excel File?

Excel makes it easy to encrypt your spreadsheet by locking it down with a password. It just takes three easy steps:

  1. Navigate to File > Info > Protect Workbook > Encrypt with Password.
  2. Enter your desired password and click OK.
  3. Confirm your password.

However, depending on what you’re trying to protect, the exact method you use might change slightly.

Encrypting an Excel Document

The most common method of enforcing password protection on an Excel spreadsheet is via encryption Why We Should Never Let the Government Break Encryption Why We Should Never Let the Government Break Encryption Living with terrorist means we face regular calls for a truly ridiculous notion: create government accessible encryption backdoors. But it's not practical. Here's why encryption is vital to day to day life. Read More . This means that whenever someone opens up the file, they have to enter a password.

Open your document, and navigate to File > Info > Protect Workbook.

password protect excel file

Select Encrypt with Password from the dropdown menu, then enter your desired password in the dialog box that follows.

password protect excel file

You’ll need to reenter the password afterward. The next time you open the document, you’ll be prompted to enter it in order to proceed.

password protect excel file

This should go without saying, but make sure you don’t forget that password 560 Million Old Passwords Have Leaked Online 560 Million Old Passwords Have Leaked Online It's probably time to change your passwords again. Because a huge database of 560 million login credentials has been found online, waiting to be discovered by ne'er-do-wells. Read More ! Ending up without access to an important spreadsheet can cause some serious headaches.

Allowing for Read-Only Access

Setting up basic encryption is pretty straightforward, but Excel actually offers a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to password protection. For instance, what if you want anyone to be able to open the document, but require that they enter a password if they want to make edits. That kind of system is very easy to implement.

Click through File > Save As > More options.

password protect excel file

Click the Tools button and select General Options from the dropdown menu.

password protect excel file

Here, you’ll notice that there are two different fields; Password to open and Password to modify. You can leave the latter blank if you want to restrict editing privileges without restricting access to the document itself. When you’re done, simply click OK.

password protect excel file

The next time you open the document, you should get a slightly different password prompt, as you can see above.

Protecting a Worksheet

If your document features more than one sheet How to Split a Huge CSV Excel Spreadsheet Into Separate Files How to Split a Huge CSV Excel Spreadsheet Into Separate Files One of Microsoft Excel's shortcomings is the limited size of a spreadsheet. If you need to make your Excel file smaller or split a large CSV file, read on! Read More , you might want to restrict edit privileges to one or more sheets, but not others.

Head to the Review tab and click Protect Sheet.

password protect excel file

Here you’ll be able to enter your desired password for the current sheet.

password protect excel file

However, you’ll notice that there are also a series of tick boxes that will allow all users access to certain functionality. This can be handy if you want to give them the ability to sort columns, but not make any lasting changes, for instance.

Adding a Password Using VBA

One last scenario: your spreadsheet uses VBA macros, and you want to allow anyone to edit the document itself, but add some extra protection to the code you’ve written. Here’s how to do just that.

password protect excel file

Create a new Macro. You can choose whatever name you want, I’m just using “password” as a placeholder.

password protect excel file

For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to use the following code:

Range("A1").Value = "Password Protected"

However, in practice, you’ll just use whatever Macro How to Build a Custom Excel Toolbar of VBA Macros How to Build a Custom Excel Toolbar of VBA Macros Ready to supercharge your Microsoft Excel productivity? A custom toolbar can do just that. We'll show you how to put all your Excel macros within reach. Read More you’re actually trying to protect. In the Visual Basic Editor, navigate to Tools > VBAProject Properties.

In the Protection tab, you’ll find a checkbox that will allow you to lock the project for viewing. There are also fields where you can add password protection for access to project properties.

password protect excel file

It’s worth noting that while this kind of protection can be useful, it does have its limitations. Read this guide on how to recover and Excel VBA password How to Recover an Excel VBA Password How to Recover an Excel VBA Password Stuck with an Excel VBA document that's locked with a password? We'll show you how to remove the password protection to recover the contents of the VBA macro. Read More if you want to know just how easily the password can be removed, so long as you have the right tools for the job.

Protect Yourself

When it comes to an important spreadsheet 5 Excel Document Settings You Must Never Forget to Check 5 Excel Document Settings You Must Never Forget to Check When you pick an Excel template or share a spreadsheet, it may contain custom settings that you don't want anyone to see. Always check these settings. Read More , it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Many workplaces use a shared Excel document to carry out all kinds of tasks. Whether it’s a timesheet or an interactive dashboard 3 Excel Dashboard Tips You Have to Try 3 Excel Dashboard Tips You Have to Try Use our Excel dashboard tips to organize and show off data from a complex spreadsheet. With your neat dashboard, you'll see key data points at a glance. Read More , there can be undesirable consequences if the wrong people gain access.

Yes, it takes a few seconds to enter your password, but it’s worth it. Take the time to consider whether you really need to protect the whole document or just specific parts, and you’ll ensure that any inconvenience is minimized.

Besides, it’s certain to be much more inconvenient if someone sneaks into your spreadsheet, deletes all your data and overwrites the file.

Do you have a tip about adding a password to an Excel document? Or are you looking for assistance with one of the methods described in this article? Either way, why not join the conversation in the comments section below?

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