How to protect and unprotect your Excel workbook

A common tool

Excel is everywhere

Microsoft office’s Excel is a common software used in the workplace. It is used in alot of industries to keep records of information in a very neat and organized manner.

If you ran the Windows Operating System, then Excel is a tool you will almost certainly have access to. You can also have access to it with Linux through Wine. Consequently, you would be hard pressed to find a working professional who has not heard about Microsoft Excel. And why would it not be famous? Excel is a very useful tool packed with lots of features.

Prevent unauthorized access

Now, in this world of security breaches and heightened privacy awareness, the confidentiality of your data has become ever more important. So when you are not sure about the intermediary who will might intercept the Excel file, then it is best to place some sort of security on your Excel file.

Leaking critical information can be the difference between gaining and losing a competitive advantage, and even remaining in a job getting or getting fired!

Simple steps to secure your data

What we need

In a few steps, you too will be protecting your Excel sheets.

  • The first thing we need is the Microsoft Office Suite with Excel installed.
  • You also need an Excel file you want to protect.
  • You will also need a good password to use. In my example Your super-secret password should remain a secret. Normally I recommend that the password you use:

    • should have a few upercase alpha characters
    • should have a few lower case alpha characters
    • should include numbers
    • should include special characters
    • should include spaces
    • should be memorable

Protect your workbook

The steps to protect your Excel sheets are straight forward. All you need to do this:

  • Select File → Info.

BFile  →  Info

  • Select the Protect Workbook box and choose Encrypt with Password.

Encrypt with Password

  • Enter a password in the Password box, and then select OK.
  • Confirm the password in the Reenter Password box, and then select OK.
  • You should now see a warning that says “A password is required to open this workbook”

Encrypt with Password

Unprotect your workbook

Similar to the steps above in protecting your workbook, unprotecting your Excel workbook is also a breeze:

  • Click on File → Info → Protect Workbook → Encrypt with Password.
  • On the Encrypt Document dialog, clear the small black dots from the password text box to set it blank. And then click on OK.

Encrypt with Password

  • Now, the excel file is unprotected, it would not ask for a password.


Finally, I should leave you with the subsequent warnings:

  • You will not be able to retrieve your passwords in case you forget them. So make sure it is not only strong ( whilst following my rules ) but also memorable.
  • Whilst matching your password it would check case sensitivity.

Here are a few resources with which you can read for additional details:

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