How to protect Excel with password

In the material outlined here you will learn about the features of working with Excel files and, in particular, about how to preserve the confidentiality of information contained in these files. These skills can be useful in different situations. For example, if several people in your organization share the same Excel file at the same time, you often need to protect the data contained in the Excel workbook in one way or another from being changed or viewed by other people. The MS Excel application makes it easy to solve all these tasks. With the information provided here, even novice users will be able to block the Excel workbook or individual sheets of this book from viewing or modifying their contents.
How to add password to open Excel file
How to protect Excel workbook from changes
How to protect Excel sheet
How to protect Excel workbook
Useful information about Excel sheet protection

How to add password to open Excel file

If you store your Excel files on your company’s server or on a working computer that other people have access to, you can protect your documents from unauthorized access by setting a password to open Excel. In this case, nobody will be able to open these files, except for you.

In order to install such protection, open the Excel workbook that you want to encrypt. In the top menu, click the “File” button, in the list that appears, select the “Info” section and click the “Protect Workbook” button. In the opened menu, click “Encrypt with Password”. A window will appear for encrypting the document with the password entry field. Enter the password and click “OK”. In the next window enter the confirmation of the password and click “OK” again.
Set password to Excel file

After these manipulations, you need to save the file. The next time you start the file, you cannot open it until the password is entered.

How to protect Excel workbook from changes

If you use this Excel workbook protection option, any users will be able to view the contents of the workbook, but will not be able to make any changes to it. In order to establish protection of this kind, it is necessary to perform the following actions.

  1. Open the Excel workbook and click “Save As”. At the bottom of the expanded window, click the “Tools” button.
    Protect Excel workbook from editing
  2. In the menu that appears, select “General options” and in the dialog box that opens, in the “Password to open” field enter the password you have chosen. You can also select the option “Read-only recommend “.
  3. In the same dialog box, you can protect the Excel file not only from the change, but also from an unauthorized opening. To do this, enter the password in the “Password to open” field and in the “Password to modify” field. Experts recommend that you set the protection so that these passwords do not match. Click the “OK” button.
    Shared Excel file
  4. Confirm both passwords and click “OK”.
  5. In order for the installed protection to work, save the file.

How to protect Excel sheet

The sequence of actions when installing protection on an Excel sheet varies slightly depending on the version of the application. For Excel 2010 and higher, the sheets are protected in the following order.

  1. At the bottom of the screen, right-click the tab with the sheet name. A menu appears in which you select the “Protect Sheet” item. A similar action can be performed by selecting the item “Review” in the top menu and clicking on the “Protect sheet …” button.
    Excel protect worksheet
  2. In the dialog that appears, you need to enter a password to protect the sheet. This password should be remembered or written down so as not to lose it at the right time. You can leave the password field empty. In this case, the sheet or its elements will still be protected from accidental changes. To unblock such sheets, simply select the section “Unprotect sheet …”.
  3. After inputting the password, in the suggested list, select the actions that users can perform when the sheet is protected, and click on the “OK” button.
    Excel protect sheet
  4. In the dialog that appears, you should type the password a second time to make sure that the password was entered correctly, without accidental typos. After clicking the “OK” button, the protection of the Excel worksheet is completed.

How to protect Excel workbook

In addition to protecting individual sheets, you can set protection for the entire Excel workbook. This is done so that you cannot add new sheets, move them, delete, rename, or view hidden sheets. This version of protection differs from the above blocking of the Excel workbook from changes, since it concerns, mainly, the structure of the book. The Excel workbook is locked as follows.

  1. In the top menu of Excel, click the “Review” button and in the “Changes” section click the “Protect Workbook” button.
  2. In the dialog box that appears, select the “Protect Structure and Windows” section. If you select the “Structure” option, it becomes impossible to view the hidden worksheets, as well as rename, delete, move and hide any sheets of the Excel workbook. Users will also not be able to insert new sheets and copy them to another book. If you select “Windows”, you cannot change the size and position of the Excel workbook windows. Please note that this option is not available in Excel 2013 and Excel 2016.
    Protect data in Excel
  3. In the “Password” field, enter the password that is installed on the Excel workbook and click “OK”. As in the case of sheet protection, the password field can be left blank. In this case, any user can unlock the book at the touch of a button.
  4. In the password confirmation window that appears, type the password again and click OK. After that, the Excel workbook will be locked.

Useful information about Excel sheet protection

Many users believe that as soon as they put the password on separate Excel sheets, the data of this file will be reliably protected from unauthorized access. In fact, this function is not designed to prevent other people from accessing the password-locked information. And all because a very simple encryption mechanism is used to protect Excel worksheets. Such passwords cannot be hacked.

This is particularly true for earlier versions of MS Excel (prior to Excel 2010). Passwords to these data can easily crack even a schoolboy. And, no matter how long and complicated the password was set. To remove such passwords, it’s enough just to use a simple VBA code. But even later versions of MS Excel do not guarantee the protection of Excel sheets from unauthorized access. Although these versions of Excel use more sophisticated encryption algorithms, the protected confidential data is still vulnerable and can be accessed without even knowing the password.

In this case, if encryption of Excel sheets can be easily removed, does it make sense to set their protection at all? Of course, it makes sense. First of all, such encryption used for Excel worksheet sheets prevents accidental data changes in cells or modification of formulas when working with tables. Blocking worksheets in an Excel workbook is often used when multiple people use the file at the same time.

Thus, if you want to protect your data from accidental modification, you can reliably do it by encrypting sheets of the Excel workbook. But, in the event that you have very important documents and want to keep their confidentiality, never store them in Excel files.

In order to perform the greatest possible protection for Excel files, the following recommendations should be adhered to:

  • Encrypt Excel file with different passwords for opening and changing data.
  • Use the strongest passwords for encryption, containing letters of different registers, numbers and special characters. The passwords are best generated using special tools.
  • To work with tables, use versions not lower than Excel 2010.
  • Protect the structure of the Excel workbook so that other users can not rename the sheets, swap them, change or delete them.
  • Store important confidential Excel files in a special location that is not accessible to other users. For example, on a protected disk.

Here are only basic options for protecting information in Excel files. The application provides ample opportunities for maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of information stored in spreadsheets. For example, you can only lock individual table cells. But, even having the information set forth herein, you can reliably protect your Excel files from undesirable effects of other people. Unfortunately, passwords are sometimes lost. In this case, special Excel password recovery programs will help to solve the problem.