Many people use Microsoft Excel to keep track of important and confidential data. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Excel lets you protect individual cells from change. You can protect specific cells in an Excel sheet using a password. You can also prevent specific users from changing cells in a sheet or a workbook. But it is no fun when you forget the password for the Excel sheet, right? You do not have to worry, though. You can unprotect cells in Excel with or without a password.
You heard that right. Even though Microsoft Excel uses some of the best technology to encrypt and protect worksheets and cells, you can circumvent these techniques. Therefore, you can find a way out even if you do not know the cell or sheet password. In this guide, we have answered both questions: how to unprotect cells in Excel with or without a password.
Part 1. Unprotect Cells in Excel with Password
Unprotecting cells in Excel is easy if you know the password. Depending on your requirements, you can use one of the following methods.
Unprotect Sheet to Unprotect Cells in Excel
Instead of changing the protected nature of individual Excel cells, you can unprotect the entire Excel sheet. It is convenient to access multiple locked cells from an Excel sheet. The best part? You can do it using a few options from the Excel menu.
Step 1. Open the Excel Worksheet that you want to unprotect
Step 2. Go to the Review tab and click ‘Unprotect Sheet.’
Step 3. Now, Microsoft Excel will ask for the Excel sheet password
Step 4. Enter the password, followed by the Enter key
Voila! You have successfully unprotected the entire Excel sheet, which will, in turn, unprotect individual cells on the sheet. As a result, you can make changes to all cells on the sheet.
Allow Certain Users to Edit Selected Cells
Once unprotected the Excel sheets, you can specify which users can access different Excel cells. To do it,
Step 1. Select the range of cells for which you need to attribute selective access
Step 2. Open the Review tab and click the ‘Allow Edit Ranges’ button.
Step 3. On the upcoming window, you have to click ‘New’ and set up the restrictions
Step 4. For instance, you can add the title and reference to the cell
Step 5. Next, you will have to confirm the title and the cell range
Step 6. Provide the password for the range
Step 7. Click on Permissions
Step 8. In the new dialog box that appears, enter the names of the users you want to allow to make changes to the sheet.
Step 9. If the users are part of a specific domain, also enter the name of that domain and check to verify the terms.
Step 10. Review all the details and click “OK.”
Step 11. When the Allow Users to Edit Ranges dialog box appears, you can click on the Protect Sheet button
Step 12. On the upcoming pop-up, you can provide the password
Step 13. Click OK, and your Excel sheet will be protected again.
However, the cells you selected will be available to edit for the selected users. It is a convenient way to keep your Excel sheet locked but allows specific users to control specific Excel shells.
Unprotect Certain Cells via Format Cells Option
Sometimes, you want to protect an Excel sheet but keep specific cells free to change. To do this, you have to separate the protection value of those specific cells from the value of the Excel sheet. The steps are simple.
Step 1. Open the Excel sheet that you want to make changes to
Step 2. Unprotect the Sheet by going to the Review menu
Step 3. Now, select the cells that you want to keep unprotected
Step 4. Go to the Cells section and open the drop-down menu
Step 5. From there, you can click the ‘Lock Cell’ button and uncheck it
Step 6. After this point, you can go back and Protect the Sheet again
At this point, everything else on the Excel sheet will be protected and non-editable. However, the cells you selected prior will stay editable, and you can make changes to them.
As you can see, things are easy when you know the protection password of the Excel sheet or workbook. It is not the case when you do not remember the password. You need the password to make the changes we have mentioned above. But what if you do not have the password?
Part 2. Unprotect Cells in Excel without Password
This section will explore two effective ways to unlock Excel sheets without a password. Unfortunately, if you do not remember the password for the sheet, you cannot use the solutions mentioned above. Fortunately, you can rely on two methods that work.
Using Excel Password Recovery
You can find some convenient third-party Excel password recovery tools to help unprotect Excel cells without a password. These tools use a variety of technologies to remove or recover passwords. However, the task is more straightforward as we are talking about a recovery password within an Excel worksheet.
We recommend using PassFab for Excel, a complete password removal/recovery tool for Microsoft Excel. This tool is available for Mac and Windows and can remove the Excel sheet restriction password in a few seconds.
To use this option, you must first download and install PassFab for Excel on your device. Once it starts, you can select the Remove Excel Restriction Password option. In the next stage, you can drag and drop the Excel file you want to unlock.
PassFab for Excel will remove the restriction password from the Excel file using proprietary algorithms in seconds.
Once done, you can easily open the Excel document and unprotect individual cells. Because PassFab for Excel comes with a free trial, you can check out this feature without paying too much.
Using VBA Code
Did you know you can use a specific VBA code to unprotect cells in Excel without password entry? If you use Excel 2010 or earlier, you can use the password-breaking VBA code. You can get it done with the following steps.
- Open the Excel sheet using Excel 2010 or earlier versions
- Locate the Visual Basic option on the Developer tab
- In the upcoming window, go to Insert > Module
- Now, you can enter the following VBA code
You can run this code by pressing F5 on the keyboard. This VBA code will generate a password in a second or two. You can use this password to unlock the Excel sheet. Please keep in mind that the VBA password may not be the same password you originally set up for the Excel sheet.
The biggest inconvenience here is that you need Excel 2010 or earlier. Therefore, if you use the latest version of Microsoft Excel, you need to put more effort into this solution.
FAQs About Unprotecting Cells in Excel
How can I open a password-protected Excel with an unknown password?
You need to use a third-party application to remove the password from the Excel file. After that, you will be able to open a password-protected Excel even if you do not know the answer. You can use the internal Excel passwords through a VBA code as well.
How do I unprotect a protected Excel spreadsheet?
If you know the password of the spreadsheet, you can unprotect the Excel sheet by going to Review > and selecting Unprotect Sheet > provide the password. However, you will need a VBA code or a third-party professional tool if you do not have the password.
What is the shortcut key for Unprotect sheet in Excel?
There is no direct shortcut key for Unprotect Sheet in Excel. However, you can make things easier by pressing Ctrl + 1, which will open the Format Cells window. You can use this window to change the locked status of individual cells in your Excel sheet.
The Bottom Line
Forgetting an Excel sheet’s restriction password is not a big deal. As you can see, you can solve the problem even if you do not know the original password. Of course, it needs some time, but you can use a third-party app or VBA code to remove the password restriction and regain access to the content in the Excel sheet. You can use third-party software to remove a password-locked sheet as well.