How to lock cells in Excel – Keep your data where it needs to be

Choose what you'd like to lock down and what can be edited easily with this guide

How to lock cells in Excel feature

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Learning how to lock cells in Excel stops anyone from messing around with any sensitive data. Also, it allows users to only input and changes the data allowed by the workbook or spreadsheet owner. Why should anyone need to learn how to lock cells in Excel though?

There are plenty of reasons to lock down certain cells, perhaps the information being shown in the spreadsheet is incredibly important information that may ruin companies projected targets and revenue if altered. Maybe if altered it may affect workers salaries? Regardless of the reason, protecting any kind of data is important.


How to lock cells in Excel

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Here are three handy steps for learning how to lock cells in Excel. More specifically, here’s how to lock down specific cells, leaving editable ones for others to manipulate as necessary. The best thing about this method is that users can choose which cells they want to lock down and which ones they’d like others to edit. There’s no right or wrong selection, just what’s necessary for a specified spreadsheet. Let’s get into it:


Lockdown the Spreadsheet - How to lock cells in Excel

How to lock cells in Excel 1

This sounds counterproductive to what we want to achieve with this guide but bear with us. Looking at the top left corner of the spreadsheet, a triangle exists between the row and columns tags. Click this to select the whole spreadsheet.

Next, right-click anywhere on the spreadsheet and select ‘Format Cells’ on the pop-up menu. In the format cells menu go to the ‘Protection’ tab to ensure the locked tickbox is populated and click OK.


Unlock editable cells - How to lock cells in Excel

How to lock cells in Excel 2

Now that the whole spreadsheet is locked down, we need to choose which cells can be edited. Drag and highlight the applicable cells then right-click them, once again selecting ‘Format Cells’.

This time, we want to go to the ‘Protection’ tab and uncheck the locked tickbox, followed by pressing OK.


Protect Sheet - How to lock cells in Excel

How to lock cells in Excel 3

So far we’ve told Microsoft Excel which cells we want to protect and which ones we want to unprotect. Clicking around the spreadsheet at this point will show that it is still editable, this is because we need to now activate protection on the spreadsheet.

Go to the ‘Review’ tab on the Excel top ribbon, then locate the ‘Protect’ group. Then, click ‘Protect Sheet’ which will bring up the protect sheet menu. It’s best practice to enter a password to protect the spreadsheet, although it’s not necessary. Check the necessary options and click OK. The spreadsheet should now be protected as necessary.

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