Sign in

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. You can also set a password in Backstage view that encrypts your workbook.

Remember, though, that this type of protection doesn't always encrypt your data - only the encrypting password created in Backstage view does that. Users can still use third-party tools to read data that isn't encrypted.

Warning: Keep your password in a safe place. If you lose or forget the password, it can't be recovered.

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.

  5. Enter your password, and then click OK. Enter the same password to confirm, and click OK again.

    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.

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.

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

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.

  3. Enter a password in the Password box.

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

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


    • 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

Encrypt your workbook with a password

In Backstage view, you can set a workbook password that does provide encryption.

  1. Click File > Info > Protect Workbook > Encrypt with Password.

  2. In the Encrypt Document box, type a password, and then click OK.

  3. In the Confirm Password box, type the password again, and then 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.

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

Was this information helpful?

How can we improve it?

How can we improve it?

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. Review our privacy policy.

Thank you for your feedback!