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How to password-protect an Excel file – step-by-step guide

Here's how to add a password.
Last Updated on May 6, 2024
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If you want to learn how to password-protect an Excel file, then we’ve got you covered with all the information you need to secure your data.

There’s a good chance the Excel sheet or workbook you’ve been working on contains a lot of important information. Just one change to a character or piece of information in a table or formula will completely ruin your hard work. Good news: You can protect your Excel workbook and spreadsheet with a password to make sure no one messes around with your hard work.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process so you no longer have to worry about your data getting leaked or falling into the wrong hands. 

How to add a password to an Excel file

Here are the steps you need to follow to password-protect your Excel file.

Open your document

The first thing you need to do is open your Excel file. You can either click on the file in its folder or open Excel and access it directly from there. 

Go to the Review tab

Next, go to the Review tab, which is located in the top menu between Data and View.

Screenshot of a Microsoft Excel interface highlighting the "how to password protect" feature under the review tab.
Review tab in Excel

Click on Protect Workbook / Protect Sheet

Now, in the Review tab, click on ‘Protect Workbook.’ If the workbook already has a password, you will see the option ‘Unprotect Workbook.’ This is useful for those who want to change their password.

Image of an open Excel spreadsheet with cells displaying model types and sales data, including a tutorial on how to password protect Excel files, with a large red arrow pointing to one of the cells in the spreadsheet
Protect workbook option

If you want to secure a specific sheet, you can go ahead and click on the ‘Protect Sheet’ option. 

Select a password

Enter a password for the workbook. Make sure to set a secure password, one that can not be easily guessed. Also, make sure to note down your password somewhere safe, as without it, you won’t be able to access the sheet no matter what you do.

Dialog box from a software program titled "how to password protect Excel", asking for an optional password with 'ok' and 'cancel' buttons available.
Enter a password for your file

Once you’ve done this, your Excel file will be secured. After that, only you or anyone else with the password can access the file. If you want to change the password, you need to click on ‘Unprotect Workbook,’ renter your old password, and then follow the entire process from the first step.


This was everything you needed to know about how to password-protect an Excel file. This is an excellent way to keep your data secure, as no one will be able to open your file without entering the password. Just make sure to keep the password written somewhere safe, as people can often forget their passwords.

Learn more about Excel and how it works through these helpful guides:

Christian 'Reggie' Waits' is a contributor to PC Guide, having written a wide array of how to and buying guide content.