Password-protecting an Excel sheet is an effective way to keep confidential/critical information safe. Even if you mistakenly send the Excel file to someone, they cannot open it without a password. You may use unique passwords for each document to keep things extra secure. But if you deal with too many Excel documents a day, it is common to forget the password for one of your password-protected Excel files.
If you have written the passwords somewhere, it’s easy. You enter the password, and the file should open. But what if you don’t have a backup? Unfortunately, the Microsoft Excel app would not let you bypass the password authentication, which means you will be stuck. But you do not have to. There are ways to open password-protected Excel sheets with or without entering the password.
In this guide, we have every possible answer to the question: of how to open a password-protected Excel file.
Open Password-protected Excel File with Password
Things are easy if you know the password for the password-protected Excel file. You can open the Excel file, and Microsoft Excel will ask you for the password. You will be asked twice if the file has separate passwords for viewing and editing.
Once you have entered the password, you can click OK and open the Excel file. Please remember that a user can protect individual cells or the entire worksheet. If so, you will need to unprotect the cells or sheet before making changes to the content.
This was a no-brainer, but the method does not help if you do not remember the exact password(s).
Unlock Password-protected Excel File without Password Using A Software
Let’s consider a difficult situation now. You still have the Excel file but do not remember the password. It means you cannot open the workbook as you normally would. Instead, it would be best if you used a software that can unlock a password-protected Excel file.
Even though you can find many Excel password recovery tools claiming to unlock password-protected Excel files, we suggest you go with something reliable like PassFab for Excel. The tool is available for Windows and macOS, and its Password Removal/Recovery utility can help you recover complex Excel passwords with the highest success.
PassFab for Excel can use three modes to help you recover the Excel file password.
First, you can use Dictionary Mode if you think you have used one of your other passwords for the Excel sheet. Second, if you can figure out a specific part of the password, the Brute Force with Mask Attack will help. In this one, you can provide hints about the possible password. Third, if you have no idea about the password, you can use Brute Force Attack mode. Even though this mode needs a lot more time, you get a better chance of recovering the password and unlocking the password-protected Excel file.
To use PassFab for Excel to recover the password,
Step 1. Download and install PassFab for Excel on your Mac or PC
Step 2. Open the app and select ‘Recover Excel Open Password.’
Step 3. Click on ‘Add.’
Step 4. Select the Password Recovery mode and customize the settings
Step 5. Wait while PassFab for Excel recovers the password
You can see the correct password for the selected Excel file in a few minutes. PassFab for Excel lets you copy the recovered password with a single click. You can paste the password when opening the Excel document. Even if you have no idea about the password, this software offers a fair chance of unlocking the file.
Open Password-protected Excel File without Password via VBA Code
If you do not want to use a third-party app, there is another way to open password-protected Excel files. But this method comes with its fair share of limitations. Most importantly, you need to use a piece of VBA code to unlock the file.
Here’s the difficult part: you cannot find a universal VBA code that works with all Excel sheets. On the other hand, you have to try multiple options before finding a suitable option. It is also likely that the latest versions of Microsoft Excel do not allow this option.
Therefore, if you have access to a previous version of Microsoft Excel, you can try this VBA code to unlock a password-protected Excel file. However, it will also be risky since there is a higher chance of data loss.
Open Password-protected Excel File without Password by Modifying the File Extension
You can use this method if you want to open a password-protected Excel file without a third-party app or a risky VBA code. Instead, you can use the renaming/zipping function on your PC to remove the password from an Excel file. The steps you have to follow are:
- Before you begin, create a copy of the Excel file that you want to unlock
- Rename the copy and change the extension from XLSX to ZIP
- Confirm the action if your OS asks you to
- Now, use a compressor app to unzip the ZIP file that you just created
- Inside the folder, locate a file with an XML extension
- Open the XML file using Notepad
- Search for ‘sheetProtection’ in the file using Notepad
- Remove the piece of code containing the word
- Save the XML file using Notepad
- After this, you can change the file extension from ZIP to XLSX
Now, you can try opening the Excel file, which should open without a password. Once again, the success rates of this method are relatively low. You may also face compatibility issues with the latest Excel versions.
Unlock Password-protected Excel File Online
If you need a sure-shot way to unlock password-protected Excel files, you should consider using one of the available online tools. We recommend Password-Find, which works with Excel files using the latest version of Microsoft Excel. To use this service,
Step 1. Open www.password-find.com
Step 2. Click ‘Unprotect Your File’
Step 3. Browse and select the password-protected file that you want to unlock
Step 4. Click ‘Next Step’
Step 5. Choose ‘Remove Password’ on the next page
Step 6. Click ‘Next Step’
Step 7. Wait for a few seconds (or minutes) while the website decrypts the file
Once the decryption is done, you can download a partially-decrypted demo file or view it online. To get the completely decrypted file, you need to purchase a license key to the website. But you at least have an option of seeing the partial results before paying for the service.
The limitation? Not everyone may be comfortable with the idea of uploading confidential Excel documents to an online service. If you feel the same, you should stick to a method that removes the Excel file password locally.
FAQs About Password-protected Excel File
How do I take password protection off an Excel file?
To take password protection off an Excel file, you must know the password in the first place. Once you have opened the Excel file using the password, you can go to the Passwords section and remove the password. At this point, password protection will become inactive on the Excel file.
Is a password-protected Excel file secure?
Yes, a password-protected Excel file is secure with encryption. Microsoft Excel uses a robust encryption algorithm to protect your Excel from being opened without a password. However, there are tools available to decrypt this password. Therefore, we recommend using a strong, complex password for an Excel file.
We hope this guide helped you with the best ways to open a password-protected Excel file with or without a password. Even though some of these methods do not work, you can find some sure-shot ways to unlock password-protected Excel files without losing data or corrupting the file.