Password protecting Microsoft Word and Excel documents

Updated: 04/01/2018 by Computer Hope

Microsoft ExcelUsers may want to protect a Microsoft Word document or Excel spreadsheet to prevent other users from adding, changing, or removing data. It is possible to set up a password that locks a document, requiring users to enter the password to view or modify the document. It is also possible to set a password to prevent users from modifying specific parts of an Excel spreadsheet. Choose from the options below for steps on how to apply password protection to a Word or Excel document.

Protect whole Word & Excel documents

The following steps give users of Microsoft Word and Excel instructions on password protecting their documents. It should be noted that it's generally a good idea to create a backup copy of your file without a password in the event that you forget it. Should you choose to do so, it is best not to store the unprotected file locally, but rather on a USB stick.

Word & Excel 2010 and later

  1. Open Microsoft Word or Excel and the document or spreadsheet you want to put a password on.
  2. Click on the File tab.
  3. Click the Info option.
  4. Click the Protect Document option.
  5. Click either the Encrypt with Password option to require a password to open the document or the Restrict Editing option to limit or block other users from making edits to the document.
  6. Type a password in the Password text field and click OK.
  7. Type a password again in the Reenter password text field and click OK.
  8. Save the file to save the new password.

Word & Excel 2007

  1. Open Microsoft Word or Excel and the document or spreadsheet you want to put a password on.
  2. In the top left-hand corner of the screen, Click the Microsoft Office Button.
  3. In the drop-down menu that appears, move your mouse cursor over Prepare and click Encrypt Document.
  4. Once you have selected a password, type it in the Password text field, then click OK.
  5. Type the password again in the Reenter Password text field and click OK.
  6. Save the file to save the new password.

Password to open - Entering a password for this option makes the file only readable by users who know the password.

Password to modify - Similar to read-only, this option allows the file to be viewed, but only users with the password may edit and save the file. Keep in mind, however, that a user could open the file then copy its contents to their own document.

Removing a password - To remove the password from a protected document, follow the steps in the previous section, but delete the characters entered in the Password fields.

Protect parts of an Excel document

Protection can be configured in an Excel spreadsheet for individual cells, a single worksheet, or an entire workbook. Data in the protected cells, worksheet, or workbook cannot be added, changed, or removed. It's also possible to protect macros within the workbook from being removed or changed.

Follow the steps below for your version of Excel to protect a worksheet or individual cells in a worksheet.

Warning: Protecting a single worksheet only covers that specific worksheet. Any other worksheets in the Excel file (workbook) will be left open and unprotected.

Excel 2007 and later

  1. Select the cells to be protected.
  2. Click the Review tab and select Protect Sheet.

Protect 2010

  1. In the Protect Sheet window, make sure the Select unlocked cells option is checked. Also, make sure the Select locked cells option is unchecked.
  2. Enter a password to protect the worksheet and click OK.
  3. Enter the same password again when prompted to confirm the protection.

Following the steps above will prevent users from adding or removing values in the cells you selected for protection. Only the cells you did not select will be unprotected and allow users to add or remove values in those cells.

Tip: To remove the protection from a workbook or worksheet, follow the same steps above. The options will now say "Unprotect" instead of "Protect."

Excel 2003 and earlier

  1. Select the cells to be protected.
  2. Right-click on the cells and select Format Cells.
  3. In the Format Cells window, click on the Protection tab.
  4. Check the box for the Locked option and click OK.
  5. In the main Excel menu, click Tools > Protection, then select Protect Sheet.

Protect 2003

  1. In the Protect Sheet window, enter a password to protect the worksheet and click OK.
  2. Enter the same password again when prompted to confirm the protection.

Tip: To remove the protection from a workbook or worksheet, follow the same steps above. The options will now say "Unprotect" instead of "Protect."