Create Passwords to Secure Your Excel Workbooks

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated September 3, 2015

Applies to: Microsoft Excel 2010 (also applies to 2013)

If you want to lock your Excel files and prevent other users from accessing or changing your workbooks, password protection can be added to your Excel files in a number of ways. The easiest option  is to use the File tab on the Ribbon. You can use password protection to add security and prevent other users from opening a workbook, changing a worksheet or altering workbook structure. In this article, we’ll focus on using the File tab (Backstage View) on the Ribbon to enable protection for opening a workbook and/or protecting workbook structure.

Accessing protection options

To access the various protection options in Excel:

  1. Open the Excel workbook you wish to password protect.
  2. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click the Protect Workbook button. A menu appears. Choose the desired option from the menu.

Microsoft Excel protect workbook button training.

Preventing other users from opening a workbook

To prevent other users from opening a workbook by encrypting a password:

  1. Open the Excel workbook you wish to prevent other users from opening.
  2. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click the Protect Workbook button. A menu appears.
  5. Choose Encrypt with Password. A dialog box appears.
  6. Enter a password in the edit box. Passwords are case sensitive. Be sure to keep your password in a safe place.
  7. Click OK. A dialog box appears prompting you to re-enter the password.
  8. Re-enter the password.
  9. Click OK.

Microsoft Excel enter password dialog.

Close and save the workbook. When a user tries to open the workbook, they will be prompted to enter the password.

Removing a password to open a workbook

To remove an encrypted password to open a workbook:

  1. Open the Excel workbook with password protection. A dialog box appears.
  2. Enter the password and click OK.
  3. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  4. Select Info.
  5. Click the Protect Workbook button. A menu appears.
  6. Choose Encrypt with Password. A dialog box appears.
  7. Delete the password in the edit box.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Save the file.

Protecting workbook structure

If you protect workbook structure, you can prevent users from changing, moving or deleting worksheet tabs.

To prevent users from changing the structure of a workbook:

  1. Open the Excel workbook you wish to protect.
  2. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click the Protect Workbook button. A menu appears.
  5. Choose Protect Workbook Structure. A dialog box appears.
  6. Ensure Structure is checked. Enter a password in the edit box. Passwords are case sensitive. Be sure to keep your password in a safe place.
  7. Click OK. A dialog box appears prompting you to re-enter the password.
  8. Re-enter the password.
  9. Click OK.

Microsoft Excel protect structure dialog box.

Save the workbook. Users will not be able to change, delete, move or unhide worksheet tabs.

Removing a password to protect workbook structure

To remove a password to protect workbook structure:

  1. Open the Excel workbook with password protection.
  2. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click the Protect Workbook button. A menu appears.
  5. Choose Protect Workbook Structure. A dialog box appears.
  6. Delete the password in the edit box. Passwords are case sensitive.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Save the file.

There are many more strategies for securing workbooks including creating digital signatures or using third party programs. You can also protect a worksheet in a workbook.

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