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How to Unprotect Excel Sheet (2020)

Edited By Piyush, Reviewed By Gulshan

In today’s world, we are very concerned about data protection.

Whether online or offline, we want to secure our documents so that others cannot modify, change, or harm them. 

Similar is the case with our Excel files. We usually share our computer or other devices when we work in a team, or we have to share some documents, etc.

To cope up with our sense of insecurity, we mostly try to protect our data in the Excel sheet. 

We have to put a password on the selected cells that we want to be protected from an outsider’s attack. 

how to unprotect excel sheet

The problem arises, for example, with the secured sheets, in some cases, when we forget the password of the same, and there is a need for that document to be shared or be modified by another member of your team.

There arises a question as to how you can unprotect a protected excel sheet?

It is comparatively an easier task to unprotect the excel sheet which you have protected if you remember the password of the same. In such a scenario, all you need to do is to follow the given simple steps:

  1. 1
    Open the Excel sheet and right-click anywhere on the sheet tab. You will see a list there, select the ‘Unprotect Sheet’ option provided in the given list. As you remember the password, so when Excel asks you the password just put the same and click OK. Your selected cells are unprotected now.
  2. 2
    Another way of doing it is going to the ‘Review’ tab of the Excel sheet page, and in the Changes group, select ‘Unprotect Sheet’, and your task will be done by following some simple on-screen directions, where you need to fill the password when asked by Excel.
  3. 3
    Yet another method of unprotecting the protected cells is that you go to the ‘Home’ tab first and from there head towards the ‘Cells Group’. Once you open it, click on the ‘Format’ tab and choose the ‘Unprotect Sheet’ option provided therein. Lastly, you have to put the password in, and you will get your cells unprotected.

In case you have protected the sheet but have not used any password to protect the same, then you can follow any of the above procedures, but you will not be asked to fill any password by Excel. Your task will be done once you select the ‘Unprotect Sheet’ option.

Now there might be a situation where you have protected your sheet with a password, but you have forgotten the password, and you want to unprotect the same without a password.

You might be aware that the protection of an Excel worksheet is not a strong one, and that is why you can edit or remove your previous password, even if you don’t remember it now. There are some simple methods to unlock the Excel spreadsheet in such scenarios.

How to Unprotect Excel Sheet

Unlock an Excel Spreadsheet With a VBA Code

If your Excel version is Excel 2010 or older than that (lower than that) then you can use this method. For that, you need to follow the given steps:

  1. 1
    First, open your Excel document which is protected that you want to unprotect, i.e., the sheet which is protected with a password, and then open a new Excel document. Just make sure that when you open a new Excel sheet, the password-protected sheet is active.
  2. 2
    Now you have to open Visual Basic Editor (VBA) by pressing Alt+F11.
  3. 3
    Now go to the left pane of the VBA Project page and right-click the workbook name given there. Then, select ‘Insert’ and go to the Context Menu. After that, head towards ‘Module’. You are required to paste a code in the window that has just opened in front of you after choosing Module.
  4. 4
    Here, you are required to press F5, or you can go to the toolbar and click the Run button. Wait some time so that the macro can report to you the cracked password.
  5. 5
    The password that you will get in that report will not be the original password, rather a combination of some A’s and B’s. Regardless of the pattern of the password, it is very simple to use because you don’t need to put it anywhere or remember for the next time; you just have to click OK on the given password. Your sheet is unprotected now.

Some points are worth mentioning here as the cautions to be taken by the user. In case you have to unprotect an Excel file that is contained in more than one protected sheet, you need to start the run option for each of these protected sheets separately.

On the other hand, if you are using newer versions of Excel that is Excel 2013, Excel 2016, or Excel 2019, then to unprotect the Excel sheet that you don’t remember the password of, your first step would be to save that document as Excel 97-2003 workbook (*.xlx) document.

After that, you need to close Excel, and the next step is to open the workbook again. By doing this, your document will now open in a compatibility mode. Now you just have to do those simple steps of running the macro so that your document can be unprotected.

Once you are done with that, you need to save the workbook again as a .xlsx file. This is, no doubt, that it is a hectic task to do this whole procedure, so there is one other procedure that can be used in place of this one.

For this new method, you need to use free tools, for example, the Password Protection Remover add-in for Excel. In case you are unsure about using any such method, you can either go to uploading the protected Excel sheet on your Google drive.

Just open it by using Google sheets, and you will get the same desired results. There might be situations where you don’t find it convenient to use this hectic VBA method, you can use an alternative of unlocking the Excel sheet that is password protected.

This other method is comparatively simple and less time consuming since all you have to do in this method is to copy the entire content to a new sheet. For that, you are required to follow the given steps:

  1. 1
    The user is first required to open the Excel sheet, which is password protected that needs to be unprotected.
  2. 2
    Once you have the sheet open in front of you, move towards cell A1 using the cursor. Having your cursor on cell A1, press Shift+Ctrl+End. By doing this, you are selecting all the used cells provided in the worksheet.
  3. 3
    In the next step, you need to select the cells and copy them to a new sheet. You can select the cells by pressing Ctrl+C.
  4. 4
    Now, on a new sheet (if you have not already created one, then create a new sheet in Excel), either use the same workbook or a new workbook; you can create a new Excel sheet by Ctrl+N.
  5. 5
    In this last step, you have a new Excel sheet. All you have to do is paste the material that was there in the earlier sheet, which was protected with a password. To do that you need to put your cursor on cell A1 and then click Ctrl+V. You will get the desired results.

You have to put the facts into consideration that this alternative way of unprotecting the Excel sheet works when you are sure of the fact that you selected the unlocked and locked cells, both the actions are allowed in the spreadsheet, which was earlier protected with a password.

Also, in the case that the protected sheet, which you are trying to unprotect, contains some links from external sources to some other workbooks or sheets, you have to create those links manually and separately again.

There is also one advantage in case you are using Paste Special to copy or paste the columns, the widths will not be needed to be arranged in the sheets manually again. They will be fit in the new sheet.


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About the Author

Piyush Kashyap is a Ph.D student at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur. He is a budding editor/ writer and has been working as a part-time reviewer for online content. He loves to read tech-based articles and has a knack for reviewing such articles He likes to stay updated about the latest trends in technology. He has also been working as a reviewer for many scientific journals. He also writes articles based on science. Know More About Piyush

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