4 ways to remove protection from an Excel sheet

4 ways to remove protection from an Excel sheet
4 ways to remove protection from an Excel sheet

You can remove protection from a sheet in a Microsoft Excel workbook on Windows or macOS. If the sheet is password protected and you don't know it, you can use Google Sheets or a VBA script (in earlier versions of Excel) to remove the protection. If your Excel workbook is also protected and you cannot open it, the article Open a password protected Excel file will help you.


Method 1 of 4: Use Microsoft Excel

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Step 1. Open the workbook with a protected sheet in Microsoft Excel

Usually you can do this by double clicking on the file name on your computer.

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Step 2. Right click on the tab of the protected sheet

The tab for each sheet appears at the bottom of Excel. In some versions of Excel, the protected sheet often has a padlock icon. Right click on the tab (or on the padlock icon) to display the context menu.

In the case of multiple sheets protected by a password, you will need to remove the protection on each sheet separately

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Step 3. Click Unprotect Sheet

If the sheet is not password protected, it will automatically unlock. Otherwise, you will be prompted to enter a password in a pop-up window.

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Step 4. Enter the password and click OK

If the password is correct, the protection will be removed.

  • If you do not know the password, read the method Use Google Sheets to import the file into Google Sheets and thus remove all the protections added in Excel.
  • If you are using Excel 2010 or older version and don't want to go through Google Sheets, read the Use VBA code in Excel 2010 and earlier versions method.

Method 2 of 4: Use Google Sheets

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Step 1. Open https://drive.google.com in a web browser

If you have a Google Account, you can use Google Sheets (a free online application similar to Excel) to remove protection from all sheets in a workbook, even if you don't know the password.

  • If you haven't yet signed in to your Google Account, follow the onscreen instructions to sign in now.
  • If you don't have a Google Account, read how to create a Google Account.
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Step 2. Select + New

This option is at the top left of the page.

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Step 3. Choose Import File

This will open your computer's Open panel.

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Step 4. Click on the file you want to edit

Then click on To open to import the file to your Google Drive.

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Step 5. Double click on the Excel file in your Google Drive

You may have to scroll down to find it. Double-click on it to preview the file.

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Step 6. Select the Open with menu

This option is at the top of the preview and opens a menu.

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Step 7. Choose Google Sheets

Now that the file is open in Google Sheets, all protections added in Excel will be removed.

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Step 8. Download the file to your computer again

If you want to continue working on the file in Microsoft Excel rather than Google Sheets, you can download this new, unprotected version of your workbook by following these steps:

  • click on File at the top left of your sheet;
  • select Download as;
  • choose Microsoft Excel (.xlsx);
  • select a save location and if you want to keep the original version of the file (the one with a protected sheet) intact, type a new filename as well;
  • click on Save to download the file.

Method 3 of 4: Use an online service

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Step 1. Search for "Find Password Online"

Then select an online password removal service.

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Step 2. Select Unprotect file

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Step 3. Click Browse

Then choose the protected file.

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Step 4. Choose Remove Password

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Step 5. Wait for the service to remove your password

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Step 6. Download the unprotected file if it is not too large

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Step 7. Download a demo file if it is large

To get the entire file, you will need to enter a license key.

Method 4 of 4: Use VBA code in Excel 2010 and earlier versions

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Step 1. Open the workbook with the protected sheet in Excel

Usually you can do this by double clicking on the file name on your computer. Excel files usually end with the file extension.xls or.xlsx.

  • Use this method if you've tried to unlock the sheet before, but found that it is password protected (and you don't know the password).
  • This method will not work in Excel 2013 or later versions.
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Step 2. Save the file again in xls format

If the file you are working on has the extension ".xlsx" (which is common if it was created or edited in newer versions of Excel), you will only be able to use this method if you convert it to 'First in Excel 97-2003 (.xls) format. Here is how to do it.

  • Click on the menu File in the upper right corner.
  • Select Save as.
  • Go to the folder where you want to save the file.
  • Choose Excel 97-2003 (.xls). Select this option from the menu Save as Where File format.
  • Click on Save.

Follow the onscreen instructions to perform any necessary conversions.

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Step 3. Press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor

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Step 4. Right click on the file name

You will find it at the top of the left panel, in the filing cabinet Project - VBAProject. Make sure to right click on the option that contains the filename (ending in ".xls"), which should be at the top. You will see a menu appear.

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Step 5. Click Insert on the menu

You will see another menu displayed.

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Step 6. Choose Module

This will insert a new module in which you can paste some codes.

Step 7. Copy the code

Highlight the code that follows this text then press Ctrl + C (on PC) or Command + C to copy it.

Sub PasswordBreaker () 'Breaks worksheet password protection. Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer On Error Resume Next For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66 For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66 For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66 For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126 ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr (i) & Chr (j) & Chr (k) & _ Chr (l) & Chr (m) & Chr (i1) & Chr (i2) & Chr (i3) & _ Chr (i4) & Chr (i5) & Chr (i6) & Chr (n) If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then MsgBox "Password is" & Chr (i) & Chr (j) & _ Chr (k) & Chr (l) & Chr (m) & Chr (i1) & Chr (i2) & _ Chr (i3) & Chr (i4) & Chr (i5) & Chr (i6) & Chr (n) Exit Sub End If Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next End Sub

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Step 8. Right click on the new module

Then select Paste. The copied code will appear in the module window.

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Step 9. Press F5 to run the code

Excel will run the code, which may take a few minutes. Once the code has finished launching, you will see a new password appear in a pop-up window.

The new password will be a random number and not the original password

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Step 10. Click OK on the Password window

Click on OK to automatically remove protection from the sheet.

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