Protect Worksheets and Workbooks in Excel

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated June 10, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 or 365 (Windows)

You can password protect worksheets and workbooks in Excel. If you want to prevent other users from opening or modifying an Excel workbook, you can encrypt the file with a password. You can also protect workbook structure where you can prevent users from deleting, renaming, moving or unhiding worksheets. Password protection can be added to your Excel file in several ways.

If you want to lock and unlock specific cells in a worksheet, check out the article How to Lock Cells in Excel (Protect Formulas and Data).

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Protect a workbook with a password on open

To protect a workbook with a password so other users can't open the workbook:

  1. Open the Excel workbook you want to protect with a password.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click Protect Workbook or Encrypt with Password and then Protect Workbook. A menu appears. Choose the desired option from the menu.
  5. Enter a password.
  6. Re-enter the password.
  7. Click OK.

Below are the options to protect a workbook using the File tab in the Ribbon:

Microsoft Excel protect workbook button training.

The following Excel dialog box prompts for a password:

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.

To remove a 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 in the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  4. Select Info.
  5. Click Protect Workbook. A drop-down menu appears.
  6. Choose Encrypt with Password. A dialog box appears.
  7. Delete the password in the edit box or enter a new password.
  8. Click OK.
  9. If you have entered a new password, enter the password again.
  10. Save the file.

Protect workbook structure with a password

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

To prevent users from changing the structure of a workbook:

  1. Open the Excel workbook you want to protect.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon. The Backstage View appears.
  3. Select Info.
  4. Click Protect Workbook or Encrypt with Password and then Protect Workbook. A menu appears. Choose the desired option from the menu.
  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.

Below is the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box:

Microsoft Excel protect structure dialog box.

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

There are many more strategies for securing workbooks including creating digital signatures or using third party programs.

This article was first published on September 4, 2015 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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More resources

How to Delete a Pivot Table in Excel

How to Convert Text to Numbers in Excel (5 Ways)

How Lock Cells in Excel (Protect Formulas and Data)

How to Insert Multiple Rows in Excel (4 Fast Ways with Shortcuts)

Excel Shortcuts to Zoom In and Out in Your Worksheets (4 Shortcuts)

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Summary
How to Password Protect Your Excel Worksheets and Workbooks
Article Name
How to Password Protect Your Excel Worksheets and Workbooks
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You can password protect worksheets and workbooks in Excel. If you want to prevent other users from opening or modifying an Excel workbook, you can encrypt the file with a password. You can also protect workbook structure where you can prevent users from deleting, renaming, moving or unhiding worksheets. Password protection can be added to your Excel file in several ways.
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Avantix Learning

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