How To Protect Microsoft Excel Workbook, Worksheet To Make It Read-only

Protecting an excel workbook / worksheet refers to setting the workbook / worksheet in a protected state to prohibit others from accessing, modifying or viewing. This article will tell you how to protect an excel workbook / worksheet step by step.

1. How To Protect Excel Workbook.

Users can protect the excel workbook by the following two methods.

1.1 Protect Excel Workbook From Accessing By Password.

  1. Open an excel file, click File —> Info menu.
  2. Then click Protect Workbook drop down button at right side. There are a menu list and each menu can let you do diferent level excel file protection.
    protect excel workbook through file - info menu
  3. To protect the entire excel workbook, click the Encrypt with Password menu item, it will popup a password input dialog to let you input the password. Please remember the password carefully then click OK button, it will popup a reenter password dialog to make sure the two entered password are same.
    protect excel workbook input password
  4. Now when you open the password protected excel file, it will prompt a dialog to let you enter password to browse.
    open excel file need a password
  5. If you want to unprotect the entire excel workbook from accessing, you can open the excel file and click File —> Info menu item, then click the Unprotect link at bottom right of Protect Workbook area.
    unprotect excel workbook

1.2 Protect Excel Workbook By Structure Or Window.

Above method can protect the entire excel workbook from accessing. And this method can protect the workbook structure from being modified ( for example, you can not add or delete worksheet in this workbook ).

  1. Open an excel file, click Review —> Protect Workbook icon at excel top tool bar.
    excel review - protect workbook icon and prompt dialog
  2. Input the password in the prompt Protect Structure and Windows dialog. And there are two checkbox Structure and Windows under the password input textbox.
  3. Check Structure checkbox means that new worksheet are not allowed to be inserted into the workbooks, that is to protect the workbooks from the external structure.
  4. Check Windows checkbox means to protect the workbook’s window interface. After protection, the window cannot be maximized or minimized.
  5. If you want to unprotect the workbook, you just need to click Review —> Protect Workbook again, then it will prompt the Unprotect Workbook dialog, input the correct password then the excel file is unprotected and you can add or remove worksheets.

2. How To Protect Excel Worksheet.

Protecting a worksheet is similar to protecting a workbook. A protected worksheet prevents changes to the specified data in the worksheet.

2.1 Protect Entire Excel Worksheet Steps.

There are two methods to protect a worksheet. The two methods open same protect worksheet dialog.

  1. Click Home —> Format —> Protect Sheet menu item.
    protect excel worksheet through home - format - protect sheet menu item
  2. Click Review —> Protect Sheet menu item.
    protect excel worksheet through review - protect sheet menu item
  3. All above action will popup below dialog. Input the password, and check the Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells checkbox. In the Allow all users of this worksheet to checkbox list, you can select which user actions will be protected. For example, if you select the Delete columns option, the operation is protected so that users cannot delete the columns of the worksheet.
    excel protect sheet setting dialog

2.2 Unprotect Excel Worksheet Steps.

If you want to edit protected excel worksheet, you should first unprotect it follow below steps.

  1. Click Home —> Format —> Unprotect Sheet menu item.
  2. Or you can click Review —> Unprotect Sheet.
  3. All above action will prompt a password input dialog to let you input protect password.

2.3 Protect Excel Cell Ranges.

Some times you may want to just protect some cell ranges of one excel worksheet but not the entire worksheet. You can follow below steps.

  1. Select cell ranges in excel worksheet. Then click Home —> Format —> Lock Cell menu item to lock the cell range.
    select cell range in excel worksheet and lock them
  2. Then click the Home —> Format —> Protect Sheet menu item to protect the locked cell range. In the Protect Sheet popup dialog, you can check the Select unlocked cells checkbox. Then you can only edit the locked cells when you edit the excel file, because the unlocked cells are protected from editing.
    protect excel worksheet from select unlocked cells
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