How to Password Protect Excel File

Sensitive data in your Excel file? Here is how to password protect an excel file in simple steps to stop prying eyes and unauthorized access.

There is no better program than Excel to create data analysis and documentation spreadsheets. Sure, there are many free alternatives out there, like Google Sheets, but they are nowhere close to the features offered by Excel. Not only features, but the same is valid for compatibility and usability.

Generally, after creating and adding data to an Excel spreadsheet, we don’t worry about who opens the document or reads its content. However, that is not the case every time. This is especially true when you add potentially sensitive data like financial information, company sales info, etc., to the spreadsheet. You must encrypt the Excel file and password protect it in those cases. Otherwise, bad actors can misuse or misrepresent the data if they get their dirty paws on it. To put it simply, it is understandable that you might want to protect the data in an Excel sheet.

Since the Excel program is used by individuals and businesses, government institutions, and professionals, it has a neat little built-in feature to encrypt and password protect any spreadsheet with just a few clicks.

Once you add a password to Excel, only users with the password can open it. That means you can rest assured that no unauthorized person opens the document without your permission. Since the Excel file is encrypted, sharing it over the internet also becomes safe and secure.

So, without further delay, let me show you how to encrypt and password protect an Excel file and how to open a password-protected Excel file.

Jump to:

Encrypt & password-protect Excel file

To encrypt an Excel file with a password, we will use the built-in Protect Document option. This option makes it easy to password-protect any Excel file with just a few clicks. All you have to do is select the option, type the password twice, and you are good to go. Let me show you where to find and how to use the option to protect an Excel file with a password.

  1. Open the Excel file you want to protect.
  2. Click on the “File” tab.
  3. Select the “Info” tab on the sidebar.
  4. Click on the “Protect workbook” option.
  5. Choose the “Encrypt with Password” option.
  6. Type a password and click “Ok.”
  7. Type the same password again and click “Ok.”
  8. Once the document is encrypted, you will see the “A password is required to open this workbook” message.
  9. With that, you have encrypted, and password protected the Excel file.

Detailed steps with screenshots:

First, open the Excel workbook you want to encrypt and password-protect. You can open the file from the File Explorer or the Recent Files section in the Excel application. If you cannot find the file in Excel’s Recent section, I recommend you find the file manually in the File Explorer and open it from there.

After opening the Excel file, click on the File tab on the top menu. This action will open the File options menu. Here, click on the “Info” tab on the sidebar. This page will show additional options and information related to the current document. Click on the “Protect workbook” option and select the “Encrypt with Password” option.

encrypt excel file with password

As soon as you do that, the Excel application will prompt a password. Type the password of your choice and click the “Ok” button. While creating a password, make sure it has capital letters, numbers, and special characters, and it is at least ten characters long. Also, make sure the password is easy to remember but hard to guess.

password protect excel file

Excel will prompt you to enter the same password again. Type the same password again in the blank field and click “Ok” to confirm.

type the password a second time

Excel will instantly encrypt the file with the given password as soon as you do that. After encrypting and protecting, Excel will show the “A password is required to open this workbook” message in the Protect Workbook section.

excel file encrypted with a password

That is it. With that, the Excel file is password protected and encrypted.

How to open a password-protected Excel file

Just as you can encrypt and password-protect an Excel file, you can also open a password-protected Excel file with ease. Here is how to do it.

  1. Find the encrypted Excel file.
  2. Double-click on the Excel file to open it.
  3. Type the password when prompted.
  4. Excel file will open immediately if the password is correct.
  5. With that, you have opened the password-protected Excel file.

Detailed steps:

First, find the encrypted Excel file and double-click on it. As soon as you do that, Excel will prompt for a password. Type the password in the blank field and click the “Ok” button or press the Enter key.

type password to open excel file

Excel will instantly open the encrypted workbook if the password is correct.

If the password is wrong, Excel will show you the “The password you supplied is not correct” error message. In that case, make sure the password you type is correct, and the caps lock is off. Remember, the password is case-sensitive.

wrong password excel warning message

That is all. It is that simple to password protect an Excel file.

I hope this simple how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, comment below, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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