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In Privacy Last updated: April 6, 2023
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People use Microsoft Excel all the time to organize and analyze data. Your laptop might have many of these files if you use Word and Excel.

What do you do to keep them safe? If security concerns you, you should use passwords to protect sensitive, confidential information.

That’s why you should learn how to password-protect Excel worksheets. Also, you can password-protect spreadsheets and workbooks.

Here’s how to password-protect an Excel file so no one can access it without your permission.

Why Password Protected Excel Files Are Important and How Is It Effective?

Excel spreadsheets contain sensitive information. When you use the software at work, you can access client contact information, credit card information, social security numbers, and colleague info.

Unfortunately, sometimes files get shared by mistake, and we can’t do anything about it. This could lead to a data breach.

Unauthorized people can access sensitive data, which could be used for fraud or identity theft. They can even corrupt it. Hence, password protection is crucial for Excel files.

Here are other reasons why password-protecting Excel files are important:

  • Password protection keeps confidential information safe.
  • It restricts the file’s editing, copying, deleting, and printing.
  • Ensures that data is protected from malicious manipulation and potential breaches.
  • Make sure sensitive data doesn’t get shared without consent.
  • It shields users from malicious activities like computer viruses and hacking attempts.

Also read: Excel Password Recovery is Easy with these Tools

Various Levels of Protection

There are three types of protection: file-level protection, worksheet-level protection, and workbook-level protection.

#1. File-Level

If you take this measure, you will prevent unauthorized individuals from opening or altering files.

  • Secure file access: You must password-protect the Excel file to open it. 
  • Creating a password to open or modify a file: Files can be viewed without a password but must be password protected from being edited.
  • Mark as Final: This prevents other users from making any further amendments. 
  • Access Restrictions: Document permissions in the company’s Information Rights Management System (IRM).
  • Digital Signatures: A digital signature backed by a certificate helps prove identity.

#2. Workbook Level

A password may prevent other users from adding, moving, deleting, hiding, and renaming worksheets in the workbook.

#3. Worksheet Level

Using this feature, you can restrict access to data within worksheets so that none of your essential worksheet data is affected.

Methods for Password Protecting an Excel Sheet

Microsoft Excel provides several methods for enabling password protection. You can protect an Excel file in two different ways.

Method 1 – Using the Info Tab

If you click the Info tab, you can protect your worksheet by creating a sample workbook or opening an existing one.

Step 1 – Click on Microsoft Office and navigate to a blank Workbook to create a document.

Step 2 – Choose File from the menu. It’ll show you a list of options. Click ‘Info’ on the left.

Step 3 –  The Info tab lets you edit security settings, view version history, and manage options for your workbook.

Step 4 –  Click Protect Workbook in the dropdown box. Whenever you click the icon, the dropdown box expands.

Step 5 – You can keep track of who can see and make changes to your worksheet by using a Protect Workbook option.

Step 6 – Click on Encrypt with Password. You will be asked to enter a password. Save your password in the designated field so you remember it.

Step 7 – If you do not have the password to retrieve the Excel file, you will lose access to the protected spreadsheet.

Step 8 – You must enter your password again to confirm what you entered earlier.

  • Click the “OK” button at the bottom to apply for password protection.

The next step is to enter the password again and click OK. Thereafter, the password will have to be entered every time you open the workbook. This method shows how to password-protect an Excel file using the Info tab.

Method 2 – Using the Review Tab

This method can password-protect your sheet if you want to do it quickly. When you’re encrypting your worksheet, make sure you follow the steps.

Step 1 – Click on the worksheet you want to password-protect or create a new blank Workbook.

Step 2 – Click the Review menu tab, and then click the Protect option.

Step 3 – Click on the Protect sheet option in the Protect section.

Step 4 – The Protect Sheet dialog box appears. Enter your password and check the box Protect locked cells and worksheets.

Step 5 – You’ll see two checkboxes by default: Select locked cells and Select unlocked cells. You can protect rows and columns by selecting Insert columns and Insert rows.

Step 6 – Make sure you check the right boxes to protect your sheet. Once you’re done, click OK.

Excel Workbook Protection

You should use workbook-level protection if you do not want other users to edit worksheets in your workbook.

Suppose your workbook contains multiple worksheets, each referring to one particular individual or department. In that case, you can restrict access to the worksheets in the workbook.

You can follow the below steps:

Step 1 – Open a Workbook.

Step 2 – You can protect a workbook in Excel by clicking the Review tab.

If the user selects Windows, the workbook window cannot be resized, closed, moved, or hidden and unhidden.

Step 3 – Please enter your password.

If a workbook is not password-protected, anyone can change the information or unprotect it.

Step 4 – Please click OK to confirm your password.


Additional Excel File Protection Tips

You should protect your Excel worksheets with a password, but there are several additional steps you can take to ensure the data remains secure:

✅ Set parameters around sections of your worksheet that cannot be changed or edited. This will help ensure the consistency of data. You should take special care if your spreadsheet is linked to another spreadsheet that relies on formulas and updated data.

✅ Maintain a password manager and change your passwords frequently. A company should update passwords promptly when staff access to files changes to ensure that only current employees have access to and can view the files.

✅ Please ensure that the “view” and “edit” permission levels are set according to who can make changes and who can only view the document. For example, if you share files only for reference, “view” is the correct option, as the individual or team will not need to change the data.

Final Words

Protecting your Excel spreadsheets with passwords is a simple and effective data protection method. It can prevent malicious attacks and unauthorized access and safeguard your data.

Strong passwords and security measures such as two-factor authentication can protect sensitive business data and prevent data breaches.

Next, check out how to password-protect a PDF.

  • Deepjyoti Kundu
    Deepjyoti is a technical writer having 4 years of experience in writing. He curates articles and blogs on niches like Gaming, Digital Marketing, Growing Business, Technology, etc. He has done his master’s in Business Administration. He… read more
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