How to password-protect an Excel file

2020-06-15 - 4 min read

Excel has been the best friend to many businesses since its inception. The ability to collate data and analyze it all with a simple formula is invaluable. Excel or Sheets documents are integral for most businesses, whether for tracking payroll or as a CMS.

Therefore, it’s a wise idea to protect these files the best way you can. This guide will help you set passwords to keep your files away from prying eyes or prevent anyone else from modifying them.

How do I set up a password on Excel files?

Before you start slapping passwords on all your important files, we recommend consulting this guide first. It will help you create truly strong passwords — strong enough to guard your sensitive work or financial data.

  1. This method only works with Windows 10 and beyond versions of Excel. Open up the Excel file you want to protect.

  2. Go to File. Then click on Info.

  3. Go to Protect Workbook. Then click on Encrypt with Password.

  4. Enter and confirm the password you want.

What if I’m using older versions of Excel?

  1. For older versions of Excel, the process is a bit more long-winded. Open up the Excel file you want to protect. Choose the Save As option under the File tab. If you’re using the latest version of Excel, you will need to press the More Options link when you try to save the file.

  2. A new dialog box should appear, with a Tools drop-down menu next to the Save button along the bottom. Click on Tools and choose General Options…

  3. Now another smaller box should open, presenting you with two choices of protection. Depending on the purpose of the Excel file, you can require a password to Open it, or to Modify it.

  4. Once you’ve entered your password of choice, click OK. You will then have to enter the password one more time to confirm it.

Setting passwords for other spreadsheet programs

Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365

Fortunately, due Microsoft owning OneDrive and Office 365, the worksheet app is just Excel. The process of password-protecting is almost the same, except you will only have access to this process by paying for OneDrive or Office 365 Premium.

OneDrive and Google Drive are similar in that neither free service will truly be able to offer full password protection, unless you’ve already purchased OneDrive Premium or Microsoft Office.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets works a little differently. Unfortunately, the only options you’ll have for protection would be preventing anyone from modifying your spreadsheets. Due to how Google Drive works, you will have to provide the file yourself and alter permissions for others to view it. People will still be able to copy and paste information from the file — they just won’t be able to change anything.

  1. Open up the sheet file you want to protect. From the drop-down menus near the top of the screen, click on Data. From there, click on Protected sheets and ranges..

  2. Now you can choose what part of the worksheet you want to protect. Picking Sheet will protect the entire file, while picking Range will require you to select the cells you want to protect from modification. For the purposes of this guide, let’s choose Sheet.

  3. Click on + Add a sheet or range. Now click on Set Permissions.

  4. You’ll be given a choice of who you want to have access to edit the sheet. Add whoever you want to this list. Now click Done.

The one thing to take from this guide is that premium services offer premium processes. The act of password-protecting your files is quite simple and quick — now the challenge is remembering those passwords.

With NordPass, that challenge is non-existent. NordPass will automatically create randomized passwords consisting of jumbles of letters, numbers, and symbols. That password will then be locked away in an encrypted vault and even automatically entered into the relevant field – you’ll never have to memorize a password again.

Sign up to NordPass free today to store an unlimited number of passwords.

Monica Webster
Monica Webster
Verified author
Monica is the spirit of our content team. Her bubbliness and creativity sparkle her articles. She loves to investigate various security related problems and bring useful tips to readers. When she is not writing about technology, she explores art.
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