Easily Lock and Protect Cells in Microsoft Excel

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated January 24, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

It’s easy to lock and protect cells in Excel to protect data or formulas. This involves a two-step process. First, unlock the cells where you want to allow users to make changes to the data or formula and then lock or protect the remaining cells in the worksheet. You’ll be able to unlock cells later on.

Recommended: 10 Excel Data Entry Tricks and Shortcuts Every User Should Know

Unlocking specific cells

The first step in this process is to unlock cells where you want to allow users to make changes to the data or formula:

  1. Select the cells you want to unlock.
  2. Right-click the selected cell(s) and choose Format Cells or press Ctrl + 1. The Format Cells dialog box appears.
  3. Click the Protection tab.
  4. Uncheck Locked.
  5. Click OK. Nothing will appear to occur until you protect the sheet.

Excel Format Cells dialog box to lock and unlock cells in a worksheet.

Locking remaining cells by protecting the worksheet

The second step in this strategy is to protect the sheet using the Review tab on the Ribbon:

  1. Display the worksheet you want to protect.
  2. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Changes group, click Protect Sheet. A dialog box appears.
  4. Check or uncheck the desired options (it’s usually best to leave the first two checked). Be sure to scroll down to see all of the available options.
  5. Enter a password (you will need to set a password if you don’t want others to be able to unprotect the sheet). Passwords are case sensitive and you should keep a copy of your passwords.
  6. Enter the password again.
  7. Click OK. You will be unable to enter or change data or formulas in the locked cells.

Excel dialog box to protect sheet and lock cells.

Unprotecting the sheet and unlocking cells

To unprotect the sheet and unlock cells:

  1. Display the worksheet you want to unprotect.
  2. Click Unprotect Sheet on the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Enter the password if prompted.
  4. Click OK.

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Summary
How to Lock Cells in Excel (Protect Formulas and Data)
Article Name
How to Lock Cells in Excel (Protect Formulas and Data)
Description
It's easy to lock cells in Microsoft Excel to prevent users from changing data or formulas. This involves a two-step process. First, unlock the cells where you want to allow users to make changes to the data or formula and then protect the remainder of the worksheet. This applies to Excel 365., 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007 but was available in older versions of Excel as well.
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Avantix Learning

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