Locking cells in a spreadsheet

Excel 2016 2013 2010 2007 2003
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.

However, if you forgot the password, you won't be able to edit the locked cells. Tools like PassFab for Excel can recover simple passwords if needed.

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.   Do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selection and select Format Cells... on the popup menu:
    Format cells in popup menu Excel 365
  • On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, and then click Format Cells...:
    Format cells in ribbon Excel 365
  • Click Ctrl+Shift+F.

   3.   In the Format Cells dialog box, on the Protection tab, clear the Locked checkbox, and then click OK:

Protection, UnLocked cells in Excel 365

   4.   To protect the entire spreadsheet to have the lock feature protect the cells, on the Review tab, in the Protect group, click Protect Sheet:

Protect Sheet in Excel 365

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

Protect Sheet in Excel 365

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.

See also this tip in French: Comment verrouiller des cellules dans une feuille de calcul.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

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