How to password protect an Excel file

Microsoft Excel arguably is the most popular and widely used spreadsheet program in the world. Not only is it used by people across the world, businesses both big and small, government organizations, multinational corporations, etc, all use Microsoft Excel. 

Excel can be used to record information that is sensitive and important to yourself, your business or the institution you work in. Microsoft Excel allows you to add layers of protection to your Excel file or document to prevent others from accessing data in your Excel files.

It also gives you options to prevent people from modifying data in your Excel file. 

There are several ways that you can protect an excel file with a password. Below are some of the ways that you can password protect your excel file.

  1. Password to protect an excel file
  2. Adding a password to protect a worksheet
  3. Mark as final
  4. Restrict access
  5. Digital signature

Now let’s go into detail on each of the methods or ways you can use to password protect an excel file.

Method 1: Password to protect an excel file

Microsoft Excel has an integrated tool that password protects the entire excel file. As stated earlier above, your Excel file might contain sensitive and important data and so it is very important to protect your file to prevent someone else from accessing it or modifying your data. 

Below are the steps on how to add a password to protect an excel file.

  1. Open the excel document or file that you want to password protect 
  1. Click “File”

3. Click “Info”

4. Select the “Protect workbook” option

5. Then choose “Encrypt with password”

6. Enter the password of your choice (make sure it is a strong password which you can remember)

7. Re-enter the password

8. Click “Ok” to password protect your excel file

Method 2: Adding a password to protect a worksheet

Adding a password to protect a worksheet is done when you are sharing files with other people with the sole purpose of viewing and not modification.

Putting a password on your worksheet ensures that people with whom the file is shared can only view the worksheet and not edit it.

Your data, information and formulas can be deleted or changed if you share your Excel file with other people. Putting a password on a worksheet is entirely different from putting a password to protect the entire excel file. 

However, people can still be able to open and view your file, just that they will be required to input a password if they try to make changes in a protected area.

To password protect a worksheet, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the worksheet you want to password protect
  1. Click on the “Review” tab

3. Select the “Protect sheet” option

4. Enter the password of your choice

5. You can choose to tick the areas you want to protect or ignore them in general

6. Click “Ok” to apply changes

Method 3: Mark as final

The mark as final option will mark the Excel file as completed, thus, informing other people that they should not make any changes whatsoever to the Excel file.

This option however is not the best way to protect your Excel file. It will not secure the data behind a password. 

To use this option, follow the steps below

  1. Open the excel document or file that you want 
  1. Click “File”

3. Click “Info”

4. Select the “Protect workbook” option

5. Then choose “Mark as final” option

6. Click “Ok” to apply the option

7. Save the file

Method 4: Restrict access

This option is mostly used by businesses, big corporations and government institutions. Not all employees have total access to the organization’s system.

Some employees are also not authorized to open certain documents. This option is highly beneficial to these organizations where some people need to get to data, but not everyone needs to move in and out of the document.

You can follow the steps below to know how to use this option to protect your Excel file from unauthorized people or employees.

  1. Open the Excel document you want to restrict access to
  1. Click “File”

3. Click “Info”

4. Select the “Protect workbook” option

5. Then choose the the “Restrict access” option

Method 5: Digital signature 

A digital signature is an electronic, encrypted, stamp of authentication on digital information such as e-mail messages, electronic documents, etc.

It is a signature that confirms that the information originated from the signer and has not been changed. 

You can make sure that only you have access to and control over your Excel files by creating a unique digital signature.

Here is how to add a digital signature to protect your Excel file.

1. Open the Excel file you want to add a digital signature to

2. Click “File”

3. Click “Info”

4. Select or choose the “Protect workbook” option

5. Then click the “digital signature” option

6. Click “Yes”

Follow the instructions to add a digital signature to your Excel file

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