Password protecting your Excel files or the sheets in them prevents unwanted editing of any important projects you're working on. However, at some stage, you might need to know how to unpassword protect an Excel file so other people can have access. If you know the password, this is simple. If you don't know the password, you may not be able to remove it, but there is one additional approach you can try.
Excel 2010 or Later
In Excel 2010 and up to Excel for Office 365, you can use the following method.
If you're looking for how to remove a password from an Excel file, first open the file. Enter the password when prompted to access the document. Click on "File" and go to "Info," "Protect Document" and then "Encrypt with Password." A window opens with the password filled in. Delete these characters and click "OK" to remove it.
To remove the password for a specific sheet, go to "File," then "Info" and "Protect Current Sheet." Enter the password to remove the protection from the sheet. Repeat this process for other sheets as needed, navigating to the relevant sheet first. Save the document with the protections removed.
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Unpassword Protect Excel 2007
The process for removing a password from Excel files in Excel 2007 is similar.
For a protected file, open the file and enter the password. Click the Windows icon in the top left of the window and then hover your cursor over "Prepare" to bring up the submenu. Click the "Encrypt Document" option, and the password will pop up in a separate dialogue. Delete this and press "OK" to unprotect the file.
If you're looking for how to remove a password from Excel sheets, go to the "Review" tab in the workbook and locate the "Changes" section. Click on "Unprotect Sheet" and enter the password in the dialogue box. Click "OK" to confirm.
Excel 2003 or Earlier
For protected files in Excel 2003 or earlier, open the workbook and enter the password when prompted. Click "OK" to access the workbook. Under "Tools" in the menu at the top of the screen, click "Options" and then navigate to the "Security" tab. Delete the password in the "Password to open" field and click "OK." Save the workbook to finish the process.
Sheet Access Without a Password
If you don't know the password that is protecting a sheet in Excel 2003 or later, you can try this method.
Go to the folder containing the file in question and ensure your Windows settings let you see the file extension after the file name. The file should be in the format "[name].xlsx" with your specific file name in place of [name]. Rename the file to "[name].zip" and accept the change. Use a ZIP file opener to extract the file into another folder. From here, go to the "xl" folder and then "worksheets." This displays each sheet as an .xml file, such as "sheet1.xml" and so on. Open the sheet in question in Notepad.
Find the section of code that reads something like:
Note the "sheetProtection" at the start and "scenarios" at the end. The "hashValue" and "saltValue" in your document will be different. Delete this entire line, including the opening and closing brackets. Save the file, and then replace the version in your zipped file with this new one. Do this for each protected sheet. Now rename the file back to "[name].xlsx" and open it.