Password protect a workbook

Excel gives you several ways to protect a workbook. You can require a password to open it, a password to change data, and a password for changing the file's structure—adding, deleting, or hiding worksheets.

Remember, though, that this type of protection doesn't encrypt your files. Users can still use third-party tools to read your data.

We'll start with requiring passwords for opening the file and changing data.

  1. Click File > Save As.

  2. Click a location, such as Computer or your My Site web page.

  3. Click a folder, such as Documents or one of the folders on your OneDrive, or click Browse.

  4. In the Save As dialog box, go to the folder you want to use, then open the Tools list and click General Options.

The Tools list in the Save As box

You can enter either of two passwords here, one to open the file, another to change the file.

The General Options dialog box.

See the notes below for more.

  Write your passwords down and store them someplace safe. If you lose them, we honestly can't help you find them.

  1. Enter your password, enter it again to confirm, and click OK.

    Note   To remove a password, follow the steps above and delete the password. Basically, just enter a blank password. You can do that for any type of password that you use in Excel.

To protect the structure of your workbook, do this:

  1. Click Review > Protect Workbook.

  2. Click Structure.

See the notes below for more about this option and the Windows option.

  1. Enter a password in the Password box.

      Write your password down and store it someplace safe. If you lose it, we really can't help you find it.

  1. Click OK, and retype the password to confirm it.

    Notes   

    • If you enter the same password for opening and changing a workbook, users only need to enter the password once.

    • If you only require a password for changing a workbook, users can open a read-only copy of the file, save it under another name, and change your data.

    • Selecting the Structure option prevents other users from viewing hidden worksheets, adding, moving, deleting, or hiding worksheets, and renaming worksheets.

    • You can ignore the Windows option. It's disabled in this version of Excel.

    • You can always tell when you've protected the workbook's structure. The Protect Workbook button lights up.

      The Protect Workbook button

Why did my password disappear when I saved to the Excel 97-2003 format?

You want to send your password-protected workbook to others, but they're still using Excel 2003, which saves in the Excel 97-2003 (*.xls) file format. You did a "Save As" using the 97-2003 format, but now you've found that the password you set on the workbook has disappeared.

This happens because your version of Excel uses a new scheme for saving passwords, and the earlier file format doesn't recognize it. As a result, the password is discarded when you save your file to the Excel 97-2003 format. Set the password in the *.xls file to protect the workbook again.

More about protection and passwords

Applies To: Excel 2010, Excel 2013



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