How to Lock Cells in Microsoft Excel

Excel worksheets are a useful way to share information, but there may be times when you want to limit the changes that other people can make to your data. Excel 2013 locks cells by default, but you have to enable protection to make them read-only. You can do this for all cells or for selected ones.

Finance concept: Folder With Lock on digital background
You can unlock some cells if you need users to edit them.
credit: maxkabakov/iStock/Getty Images

Lock All Cells in Excel 2013

Step

Click the "Review" tab on the menu bar at the top of your Excel sheet. Click "Protect Sheet."

Step

Type a password into the "Password to unprotect sheet" field in the dialog box that opens. Click "OK." Enter the password again to confirm it in the new box that opens and click "OK" to set it.

Step

Click on any cell and try to change it. You should see an error message telling you that the document is protected and has read-only status.

Lock Selected Cells in Excel 2013

Step

Remove password protection if you have already set it up. To do this, click the "Review" tab on the top menu and then click the "Unprotect sheet" icon. Enter your password when prompted and click "OK."

Step

Select the cells you want to unlock. Keep in mind that all cell settings are locked by default, so you'll have to unlock cells that do not need to be read-only before you can add protection to the ones you want to lock. Right-click your selected cells and click "Format cells."

Step

Click the "Protection" tab in the new window that opens and uncheck the "Locked" check box. Click "OK."

Step

Click the "Review" tab on the menu at the top of the page and select "Protect Sheet." Type your password into the dialog box and click "OK." Confirm your password on the next box and click "OK."

Step

Click on a cell that you unlocked and confirm that it can be changed. Click on a cell that you didn't unlock and confirm that it is read-only.