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How To: Protect a Worksheet in Microsoft Office Excel

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To prevent other users from accidentally or deliberately changing, moving, or deleting data in a worksheet, you can lock the cells on your Excel worksheet and then protect the sheet with a password. Say you own the team status report worksheet, where you want team members to add data in specific cells only and not be able to modify anything else. With worksheet protection, you can make only certain parts of the sheet editable and users will not be able to modify data in any other region in the sheet.

NOTE: Protecting a worksheet is not the same as protecting an Excel file or a workbook with a password. See below for more information:

Choose what cell elements you want to lock

Here’s what you can lock in an unprotected sheet:

NOTE: ActiveX controls, form controls, shapes, charts, SmartArt, Sparklines, Slicers, Timelines, to name a few, are already locked when you add them to a spreadsheet. But the lock will work only when you enable sheet protection. See the subsequent section for more information on how to enable sheet protection.


Enable worksheet protection

Worksheet protection is a two-step process: the first step is to unlock cells that others can edit, and then you can protect the worksheet with or without a password.

Step 1: Unlock any cells that needs to be editable

  1. In your Excel file, select the worksheet tab that you want to protect.
  2. Select all the cells in worksheet.
  3. Right-click anywhere in the sheet and select Format Cells (or use Ctrl+1, or Command+1 on the Mac), and then go to the Protection tab and uncheck (clear) Locked. Click OK.microsoft excel worksheet protect kamil kamiltech.com
  4. Now, Select cells which you want to protect.

    TIP: You can select multiple, non-contiguous cells by pressing Ctrl+Left-Click.

  5. Right-click anywhere in the sheet and select Format Cells (or use Ctrl+1, or Command+1 on the Mac), and then go to the Protection tab and check on Locked.Microsoft Excel kamil kamiltech.com

Step 2: Protect the worksheet

Next, select the actions that users should be allowed to take on the sheet, such as insert or delete columns or rows, edit objects, sort, or use AutoFilter, to name a few. Additionally, you can also specify a password to lock your worksheet. A password prevents other people from removing the worksheet protection—it needs to be entered to unprotect the sheet.


Given below are the steps to protect your sheet.

  1. On the Review tab, click Protect Sheet.

    The Changes group on the Review tab

    You can also press Alt + R + PS keyboard keys.

  1. In the Allow all users of this worksheet to list, select the elements you want people to be able to change.The Protect Sheet dialog box
    OptionAllows users to
    Select locked cellsMove the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is checked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users are allowed to select locked cells.
    Select unlocked cellsMove the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is unchecked on the Protection tab of the Format Cellsdialog box. By default, users can select unlocked cells, and they can press the TAB key to move between the unlocked cells on a protected worksheet.
    Format cellsChange any of the options in the Format Cells or Conditional Formatting dialog boxes. If you applied conditional formatting before you protected the worksheet, the formatting continues to change when a user enters a value that satisfies a different condition.
    Format columnsUse any of the column formatting commands, including changing column width or hiding columns (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).
    Format rowsUse any of the row formatting commands, including changing row height or hiding rows (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).
    Insert columnsInsert columns.
    Insert rowsInsert rows.
    Insert hyperlinksInsert new hyperlinks, even in unlocked cells.
    Delete columnsDelete columns.

    NOTE: If Delete columns is protected and Insert columns is not protected, a user can insert columns but cannot delete them.

    Delete rowsDelete rows.

    NOTE: If Delete rows is protected and Insert rows is not protected, a user can insert rows but cannot delete them.

    SortUse any commands to sort data (Data tab, Sort & Filter group).

    NOTE: Users can’t sort ranges that contain locked cells on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use AutoFilterUse the drop-down arrows to change the filter on ranges when AutoFilters are applied.

    NOTE: Users cannot apply or remove AutoFilter on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use PivotTable reportsFormat, change the layout, refresh, or otherwise modify PivotTable reports, or create new reports.
    Edit objectsDoing any of the following:

    • Make changes to graphic objects including maps, embedded charts, shapes, text boxes, and controls that you did not unlock before you protected the worksheet. For example, if a worksheet has a button that runs a macro, you can click the button to run the macro, but you cannot delete the button.
    • Make any changes, such as formatting, to an embedded chart. The chart continues to be updated when you change its source data.
    • Add or edit comments.
    Edit scenariosView scenarios that you have hidden, making changes to scenarios that you have prevented changes to, and deleting these scenarios. Users can change the values in the changing cells, if the cells are not protected, and add new scenarios.
  2. Optionally, enter a password in the Password to unprotect sheet box and click OK. Reenter the password in the Confirm Password dialog box and click OK.

    IMPORTANT: Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don’t mix these elements. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A passphrase that uses 14 or more characters is better.

    It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Nobody can retrieve it.


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