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To prevent other users from accidentally or deliberately changing, moving, or deleting data in a worksheet, you can lock the cells on your Excel worksheet and then protect the sheet with a password. Say you own the team status report worksheet, where you want team members to add data in specific cells only and not be able to modify anything else. With worksheet protection, you can make only certain parts of the sheet editable and users will not be able to modify data in any other region in the sheet. 

Important: Worksheet level protection is not intended as a security feature. It simply prevents users from modifying locked cells within the worksheet. Protecting a worksheet is not the same as protecting an Excel file or a workbook with a password. See below for more information:

The following sections describe how to protect and unprotect a worksheet in Excel for Windows.

Here's what you can lock in an unprotected sheet:

Note: ActiveX controls, form controls, shapes, charts, SmartArt, Sparklines, Slicers, Timelines, to name a few, are already locked when you add them to a spreadsheet. But the lock will work only when you enable sheet protection. See the subsequent section for more information on how to enable sheet protection.

Worksheet protection is a two-step process: the first step is to unlock cells that others can edit, and then you can protect the worksheet with or without a password.

Step 1: Unlock any cells that needs to be editable

  1. In your Excel file, select the worksheet tab that you want to protect.

  2. Select the cells that others can edit.

    Tip: You can select multiple, non-contiguous cells by pressing Ctrl+Left-Click.

  3. Right-click anywhere in the sheet and select Format Cells (or use Ctrl+1, or Command+1 on the Mac), and then go to the Protection tab and clear Locked.

    Protection tab in the Format Cells dialog box

Step 2: Protect the worksheet

Next, select the actions that users should be allowed to take on the sheet, such as insert or delete columns or rows, edit objects, sort, or use AutoFilter, to name a few. Additionally, you can also specify a password to lock your worksheet. A password prevents other people from removing the worksheet protection—it needs to be entered to unprotect the sheet.

Given below are the steps to protect your sheet.

  1. On the Review tab, click Protect Sheet.

    The Changes group on the Review tab
  2. In the Allow all users of this worksheet to list, select the elements you want people to be able to change.

    The Protect Sheet dialog box

    Option

    Allows users to

    Select locked cells

    Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is checked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users are allowed to select locked cells.

    Select unlocked cells

    Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is unchecked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users can select unlocked cells, and they can press the TAB key to move between the unlocked cells on a protected worksheet.

    Format cells

    Change any of the options in the Format Cells or Conditional Formatting dialog boxes. If you applied conditional formatting before you protected the worksheet, the formatting continues to change when a user enters a value that satisfies a different condition.

    Format columns

    Use any of the column formatting commands, including changing column width or hiding columns (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).

    Format rows

    Use any of the row formatting commands, including changing row height or hiding rows (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).

    Insert columns

    Insert columns.

    Insert rows

    Insert rows.

    Insert hyperlinks

    Insert new hyperlinks, even in unlocked cells.

    Delete columns

    Delete columns.

    Note: If Delete columns is protected and Insert columns is not protected, a user can insert columns but cannot delete them.

    Delete rows

    Delete rows.

    Note: If Delete rows is protected and Insert rows is not protected, a user can insert rows but cannot delete them.

    Sort

    Use any commands to sort data (Data tab, Sort & Filter group).

    Note: Users can't sort ranges that contain locked cells on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use AutoFilter

    Use the drop-down arrows to change the filter on ranges when AutoFilters are applied.

    Note: Users cannot apply or remove AutoFilter on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use PivotTable reports

    Format, change the layout, refresh, or otherwise modify PivotTable reports, or create new reports.

    Edit objects

    Doing any of the following:

    • Make changes to graphic objects including maps, embedded charts, shapes, text boxes, and controls that you did not unlock before you protected the worksheet. For example, if a worksheet has a button that runs a macro, you can click the button to run the macro, but you cannot delete the button.

    • Make any changes, such as formatting, to an embedded chart. The chart continues to be updated when you change its source data.

    • Add or edit notes.

    Edit scenarios

    View scenarios that you have hidden, making changes to scenarios that you have prevented changes to, and deleting these scenarios. Users can change the values in the changing cells, if the cells are not protected, and add new scenarios.

  3. Optionally, enter a password in the Password to unprotect sheet box and click OK. Reenter the password in the Confirm Password dialog box and click OK.

    Important: 

    • Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A passphrase that uses 14 or more characters is better.

    • It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it.

The Protect Sheet option on the ribbon changes to Unprotect Sheet when a sheet is protected. To view this option, click the Review tab on the ribbon, and in Changes, see Unprotect Sheet.

The Changes group on the Review tab

The Changes group on the Review tab

To unprotect a sheet, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the worksheet you want to unprotect.

  2. Go to File > Info > Protect > Unprotect Sheet, or from the Review tab > Changes > Unprotect Sheet.

  3. If the sheet is protected with a password, then enter the password in the Unprotect Sheet dialog box and click OK.

The following sections describe how to protect and unprotect a worksheet in Excel for the Web.

  1. Select Review Manage Protection.

  2. To turn on protection, in the Manage Protection task pane, select Protect sheet.

    Note      Although you can selectively protect parts of the sheet by setting various options in the Options section, these settings only apply when the Protect sheet setting is on.

    Managing sheet protection

  3. By default, the entire sheet is locked and protected.  To unlock specific ranges, select Unlocked ranges, and then enter a range name and cell range. You can add more than one range.

    Setting range protection

  4. Optionally, to require a password to edit a range, select Range password, enter and confirm the password, and then select Save. Make sure sheet protection is turned on.

    Setting range protection

  5. Optionally, to control the ability to edit protections for the entire sheet with a password, select Sheet protection password, enter and confirm the password, and then select Save.

    Setting a sheet password
    Important

    • Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. Make sure the CAPS LOCK key is off and use correct capitalization. Passwords are case-sensitive.

    • It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it.

  6. Optionally, if you want to selectively enable and disable specific sheet elements, select the Options section, and then select one or more options.

    Option

    Allows users to

    Select locked cells

    Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is checked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users are allowed to select locked cells.

    Select unlocked cells

    Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is unchecked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users can select unlocked cells, and they can press the TAB key to move between the unlocked cells on a protected worksheet.

    Format cells

    Change any of the options in the Font and Alignment groups of the Home tab.

    Note      If cell formatting and hidden properties were previously protected by using the Format Cells or Conditional Formatting dialog boxes, they remain protected, but you can only modify options in these dialog boxes by using Excel for Windows. If you applied conditional formatting before you protected the worksheet, the formatting continues to change when a user enters a value that satisfies a different condition.

    Format columns

    Use any of the column formatting commands, including changing column width or hiding columns (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).

    Format rows

    Use any of the row formatting commands, including changing row height or hiding rows (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).

    Insert columns

    Insert columns.

    Insert rows

    Insert rows.

    Insert hyperlinks

    Insert new hyperlinks, even in unlocked cells.

    Delete columns

    Delete columns.

    Note: If Delete columns is protected and Insert columns is not protected, a user can insert columns but cannot delete them.

    Delete rows

    Delete rows.

    Note: If Delete rows is protected and Insert rows is not protected, a user can insert rows but cannot delete them.

    Sort

    Use any commands to sort data (Data tab, Sort & Filter group).

    Note: Users can't sort ranges that contain locked cells on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use AutoFilter

    Use the drop-down arrows to change the filter on ranges when AutoFilters are applied.

    Note: Users cannot apply or remove AutoFilter on a protected worksheet, regardless of this setting.

    Use PivotTable reports

    Format, change the layout, refresh, or otherwise modify PivotTable reports, or create new reports.

    Edit objects

    Doing any of the following:

    • Make changes to graphic objects including maps, embedded charts, shapes, text boxes, and controls that you did not unlock before you protected the worksheet. For example, if a worksheet has a button that runs a macro, you can click the button to run the macro, but you cannot delete the button.

    • Make any changes, such as formatting, to an embedded chart. The chart continues to be updated when you change its source data.

    • Add or edit notes.

    Edit scenarios

    View scenarios that you have hidden, making changes to scenarios that you have prevented changes to, and deleting these scenarios. Users can change the values in the changing cells, if the cells are not protected, and add new scenarios.

    Notes

    • If you don’t want other users to see your formulas, you can hide them from being seen in cells or the Formula bar. For more information, see Display or hide formulas.

    • ActiveX controls, form controls, shapes, charts, SmartArt, Sparklines, Slicers, Timelines, and so on, are already locked when you add them to a spreadsheet. But the lock works only when you enable sheet protection. For more information, see Protect controls and linked cells on a worksheet.

There are two ways to unprotect a sheet, disable it or pause it.

Disable protection

  1. Select Review Manage Protection.

  2. To turn off protection, In the Manage Protection task pane, turn off Protect sheet.

    Turning sheet protection off

Pause protection

Pausing protection turns off protection for the current editing session while maintaining the protection for other users in the workbook. For example, you can pause protection to edit a locked range but maintain protection for other users.

  1. To pause sheet protection, select Review Pause Protection.

    Pausing sheet protection

    Note      If the sheet has a protection password, you must enter that password to pause protection.

  2. To resume sheet protection, select Review Resume Protection.

    Resuming sheet protection

At the bottom of the sheet, the sheet tab displays a locked icon if the sheet is protected (Sheet1), and an unlocked icon if it is paused (Sheet2).

Revealing sheet protection

See Also

Protection and security in Excel

Protect an Excel file

Protect a workbook

Lock or unlock specific areas of a protected worksheet

Lock cells to protect them

Display or hide formulas

Protect controls and linked cells on a worksheet

Copy and paste in a protected worksheet

Video: Password protect workbooks and worksheets (Excel 2013)

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