How to Lock Columns

It can be difficult to maneuver around data in a complex spreadsheet when there are too many columns to display within the bounds of your computer screen. You can lock or freeze columns in Microsoft Excel so they remain visible when scrolling through your spreadsheet. This procedure separates the selected columns into a scrollable pane, leaving the remaining columns as viewable items outside the work area as you work on a different section. You can unlock the columns or reverse the locking process at any time.

Splitting Panes to Lock Columns

Step

Split panes to access and scroll through data in both areas of your adapted spreadsheet while keeping columns in the remaining un-split area visible. Open your spreadsheet and choose the position of your locked column and click the next column to the right of its location.

Step

Go to the "Window" menu and click the "Split" button. Alternatively, hover your cursor over the vertical scroll bar or the far right of the horizontal scroll bar. Wait for the cursor icon to change into a split pointer or resize pointer. A split pointer is a pair of horizontal parallel lines with an arrow on either side, and a resize pointer is the same icon, but in a vertical position.

Step

Drag the split box to the required position when the split pane cursor icon appears, and let go. Double-click the split bar at any point between the panes to undo the split pane operation, or click "Remove Split" in the "Window" menu.

Freezing Panes to Lock Columns

Step

Freeze panes to maintain the visibility of column labels visible as you move throughout the document. Choose the column that you want to keep visible, and click the column to the right of its position.

Step

Click the "Freeze Panes" button on the "Window" menu to freeze multiple columns. If you want to lock one column, click "Freeze First Column." You can freeze columns on the left side of the spreadsheet only. It is not possible to freeze columns on the right.

Step

Click "Unfreeze Panes" on the "Window" menu to reverse the process.