Unlock protected cells

When you password protect a workbook or a worksheet, Excel locks all the cells in the workbook or the sheet. If you think you'll need to change some of the data in a protected file, you can unlock cells before or after you apply protection, though it's usually, it's best to unlock any cells before you add protection.

Here's how you unlock cells in a protected workbook or worksheet. If you haven't protected anything yet, just skip to step 3.

  1. Click Review > Unprotect Sheet or Protect Workbook

  2. If you used a password, enter it click OK.

  3. Select the cells you want to unlock, right-click them, and click Format Cells.

  4. Click the Protection tab, clear the Locked checkbox, and then click OK.

  5. Click Review > Protect Sheet or Protect Workbook.

  6. If you use a password, enter it, click OK, then enter it again to confirm and click OK.


    • To lock cells again, repeat these steps and select the Locked checkbox.

    • You don't need to unlock cells if you haven't protected your workbook or worksheet. If you try these steps on an unprotected file, you'll see the cells are already locked, but they behave as though they aren't. They're locked because if you do protect a file, you don't have to lock the cells manually.

    • In addition to protecting workbooks and worksheets, you can also remove a password entirely and protect formulas.

Applies To: Excel 2013

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