How to Unprotect a Microsoft Excel Document

By Hannah Wickford

Microsoft Excel allows users to protect the data contained in their spreadsheets from being changed or deleted by others who view or share the file. Excel’s protection can be customized to meet individual needs by protecting an entire workbook, one spreadsheet or individual cells in the file. A simple set of commands unprotects the file to allow editing by others, or you can apply a password to prevent others from accessing the file’s contents.

Microsoft Excel 2010 and 2013

Step 1

Click the "File" tab and click "Open." Navigate to the file you want to unprotect, select the file and click "Open."

Step 2

Select the “Review” tab on the ribbon at the top of the screen, and click “Unprotect Sheet” from the Review menu.

Step 3

Enter the file’s password if prompted to do so.

Microsoft Excel 2003

Step 1

Click “File” on the toolbar and then select “Open.” Navigate to folder that contains the protected spreadsheet. Select the file and click “Open.”

Step 2

Select the “Tools” drop-down menu, select “Protection” and choose “Unprotect Worksheet."

Step 3

Enter the file’s password if prompted to do so.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is possible to protect an entire Excel workbook or one particular spreadsheet in the workbook. Depending on the type of protection set in the file, the system automatically prompts you to "Unprotect Workbook" or "Unprotect Worksheet."
  • A password may or may not have been set when the document was unprotected. If the file is password-protected, contact the file's creator for the proper password. Although there are sites that purport to have ways to bypass an Excel password, there is no guarantee that any of the methods will work.