How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

To prevent or Protect 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.

Before the start, do have a look on “What’s new in Excel 2019 for Windows

  • 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.
  • To lock your file so that other users can’t open it, see Protect an Excel file.
  • To prevent users from adding, modifying, moving, copying, or hiding/unhiding sheets within a workbook.


Choose what cell elements you want to lock or Protect

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

  • Formulas: If you don’t want other users to see your formulas, you can hide them from being seen in cells or the Formula bar.
  • Ranges: You can enable users to work in specific ranges within a protected 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.

Enable worksheet 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 need 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.

How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

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.

Read Also: Useful Excel Keyboard Shortcuts and Function Keys for Windows

Given below are the steps to protect your sheet.

1. On the Review tab, click Protect Sheet.

How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

2. In the Allow all users of this worksheet to list, select the elements you want people to be able to change.

How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

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

1. 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.

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

3. Add or edit comments.

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 dialogue box and click OK.

  1. 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.
  2. It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it.


How can I tell if a sheet is protected?

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

How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

In an unprotected sheet, the Protect Sheet option displays on the ribbon

How to Protect a worksheet in Microsoft Excel

Unprotect an Excel worksheet

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 dialogue box, and click OK.

If you have any doubt, feel free to contact.

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