Microsoft Excel – Protect a workbook

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To prevent other users from viewing hidden worksheets, adding, moving, deleting, or hiding worksheets, and renaming worksheets, you can protect the structure of your Excel workbook with a password.

Note: The screen shots in this article were taken in Excel 2016. If you have a different version your view might be slightly different, but unless otherwise noted, the functionality is the same.


Example of Workbook structure

Example of a workbook’s structure
Note: Protecting the workbook is not the same as protecting an Excel file or a worksheet with a password. 
  • To lock your file so that other users can’t open it, you will have to protect the entire Excel file. 
  • To protect certain areas of the data in your worksheet from other users, you have to protect the worksheet. 
Protect the workbook structure
To protect the structure of your workbook, follow these steps: 
  1. Click Review > Protect Workbook.Protect Structure and Windows dialog box

    Note: The Windows option is available only in Excel 2007, Excel 2010, Excel for Mac 2011, and Excel 2016 for Mac. Select the Windows option if you want to prevent users from moving, resizing, or closing the workbook window, or hide/unhide windows.


  2. Enter a password in the Password box.Note:
    • The password is optional. If you do not supply a password, any user can unprotect and change the workbook. If you do enter a password, make sure that you choose a password that is easy to remember. Write your passwords down and store them someplace safe. If you lose them, Excel cannot recover them for you.
    • Passwords in Excel for Mac have a 15-character limit. You cannot open a workbook or document that has been password-protected in the Windows-based version of Excel or if the password is longer than fifteen characters. If you want to open the file in Excel for Mac, ask the Windows-based author to adjust the password length.
  3. n Excel for Windows, click OK, and retype the password to confirm it, and then click OK. In Excel for Mac, retype the password and click OK.

How can I tell if a workbook is protected? 

On the Review tab , see the Protect Workbook icon. If it’s highlighted, then the workbook is protected.

Protect Workbook option on the ribbon is highlighted in a protected workbookIf you click on the bottom of a sheet inside your workbook, you will notice that the options to change the workbook structure, such as InsertDeleteRenameMoveCopyHide, and Unhide sheets are all unavailable.

Options to work with a sheet are unavailable in a locked workbookAdditionally, in Excel for Windows, the Protect Workbook option in the Info menu also indicates that the workbook’s structure is protected. To view this option, click File > Info > Protect Workbook.

Protect Workbook status highlighted in the Info tab

Unprotect an Excel workbook
Click Review > Protect Workbook. Enter the password and then click OK.
For more information, please visit the Excel help center.