This guide will explain how to unprotect the Excel workbook and worksheet, regardless of whether you know the password of the Excel workbook or not. Once you unlock an Excel workbook, you can change, move, or delete the data in the worksheets. The information applies to users with Microsoft Excel 365, Microsoft Excel 2019, 2016, and 2013.
It is crucial to note that we will discuss how to unprotect a workbook and worksheet in Excel only, not a file. Additionally, once you modify the workbook settings, you (as well as others) can access the options to change the workbook structure, such as Insert, Delete, Rename, Move, Copy, Hide, and Unhide.
Read on to find 4 different methods of unprotecting an Excel workbook structure and worksheet with or without a password.
Assuming that you are the owner, you must know the password used to protect an Excel workbook.
Step 1. Open the Excel spreadsheet, and select Review from the ribbon. Click on Unprotect worksheet (in some variations of Excel, the option is Protect worksheet — regardless of whether a password is used or not).
Step 2. Enter the password in the password box, then click OK.
Step 3. Your Excel spreadsheet will now be unprotected, and you can modify the worksheet.
That’s how to unprotect the Excel workbook (or worksheet).
If you do not know or forgot the password that was used to protect the worksheet, try a third-party Excel recovery tool. While there are several Excel password recovery tools on the internet that you can use to unprotect Excel workbooks without passwords, the most affordable and efficient is PassFab for Excel. It allows you to remove the workbook password of Excel files saved in .xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, and .xlsb format. Plus, the program supports all Microsoft Excel versions, including 2019, 2016, 2000, 20132, 010, 2007, 2003, 97, etc.
You can also use this method to unprotect the Excel workbook structure instead of using VBA (as discussed later in this guide).
Here’s How to Unprotect Excel Workbook Without Password Using PassFab for Excel:
Step 1. Download PassFab for Excel, and install the tool.
Open the PassFab for Excel program and choose to Remove Excel Restriction Password from the main interface.
Step 2. Import the protected Excel file.
On the next page, select Please import Excel file and upload the protected Excel file via File Explorer.
Step 3. Unprotect the Excel workbook without a password.
Click Remove to unprotect the Excel workbook.
It will take a few seconds for PassFab for Excel to unprotect the Excel workbook and worksheet restrictions.
Select the Open Folder option.
That’s how simple it is to unprotect an Excel workbook or worksheet password with PassFab for Excel.
Of course, if you have the password used to protect the Workbook structure, then you must enter the password to unlock the Excel workbook.
Step 1. Open the Excel spreadsheet, and select Review from the ribbon. Click on Protect workbook (in some variations of Excel, the option is Unprotect workbook).
Step 2. Enter the password in the Unprotect Workbook box, and then click OK.
Step 3. Once you enter the password, the Excel workbook will be unprotected, and you can now make changes to the structure, like adding a new worksheet and so on.
Workbook Structure password in Excel is not really a security measure; in fact, Microsoft uses a really basic encryption algorithm to protect the workbooks and worksheets in Excel. While the encryption algorithms in Excel 2010 and onwards have sophisticated algorithms, you can still use VBA and unprotect the Excel workbook or worksheet. However, on Microsoft Excel 2010 and later versions, VBA is ineffective, especially if the Workbook structure is protected with a strong or complex password.
Still, you can try this method and check whether VBA can unprotect the Excel workbook without a password or not.
Step 1. Open the protected Excel file.
Press Alt+F11 to access the Visual Basic code editor. Alternatively, navigate to Developer>View Code to access the code editor.
Copy and paste the following code in the Code window:
Sub PasswordBreaker() Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer On Error Resume Next For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66 For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66 For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66 For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126 ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _ Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _ Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n) If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then MsgBox "One usable password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _ Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _ Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n) Exit Sub End If Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next End Sub
Step 2. Click on the Run the execute the code. Alternatively, you can press F5 to unprotect the Excel workbook without a password.
It will take some time to crack the code. If VBA finds the password, you will see a pop-up window with the password. Simply click OK on the box, and your Excel workbook structure will now be unprotected.
If the method doesn’t work and VBA can’t find the password, you can use the Excel Password Recovery tool — discussed above — to remove all types of restrictions from the Excel file.
Frequently Asked Questions About Unprotecting Excel Workbook
1. How to unprotect an Excel file?
In the guide, we have discussed how to unprotect an Excel workbook. But what if the Excel file itself is locked?
- Open the locked Excel file. Go to File> Info.
- Choose Unprotect Workbook.
- Enter the password in the password box.
- And click OK.
Your Excel file will now be unlocked.
In case you do not have the password, use PassFab for Excel and choose Recover Excel Open Password to unprotect the Excel workbook without a password.
2. What are the levels of protection available in Microsoft Excel?
a. File-level protection. You have two options for file-level protection:
- Encrypt the file. Encrypting the file will prevent others from even opening the file without the password.
- Read-only protection. This allows you to give read-only access but prevents others from modifying or editing the file’s content.
b. Workbook-level protection.
If you have multiple worksheets within a single Excel file, each worksheet is named after individual members. You can use workbook-level protection to prevent others from accessing someone else’s worksheet. This will allow individuals to modify their worksheets but not the worksheets assigned to someone else.
c. Worksheet-level protection.
Use worksheet-level protection if you do not want other team members to modify the worksheet, like header rows or a specific report layout familiar to all worksheets.
Now that you know how to unprotect an Excel workbook, you can modify, edit, or change the file’s contents. Using a password is the most straightforward way to unprotect an Excel workbook. But given you might have lost or forgotten the password, we have included ways to unprotect an Excel workbook without a password.