Locking Cells in a Spreadsheet

Sometimes you might want to lock cells in your Excel spreadsheet that contain formulas and functions or data. Thus, the person doing the data entry will not accidentally overwrite or delete the spreadsheet formulas and functions or your data.

Locking cells in an Excel spreadsheet is a two-step process. By default all cells are locked. You must first select and unlock the cells. Then, you must turn on protection on the entire spreadsheet for the "lock" to go into effect.

Follow these steps to unlock cells on a spreadsheet:

    1.    Select the cells in the spreadsheet that you want to unlock.

    2.    On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, and then click Format Cells...:

Cells group in Excel 2016

    3.    On the Protection tab, clear the Locked check box, and then click OK.

Format cells in Excel 2016

    4.    Now you must protect the entire spreadsheet to have the lock feature protect the cells. On the Review tab, in the Changes group, click Protect Sheet:

Changes group in Excel 2016

    5.    Enter a password if you want to require a password for "unprotecting" the spreadsheet.

Protect sheet in Excel 2016

See also Protect Excel spreadsheet options.

    6.    Click OK.

Note: You can easily move between unprotected cells on a locked sheet by pressing the Tab key.