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If you work with sensitive or confidential information you probably found our article on How to password protect an Excel file useful. However, what if you wanted to remove this restriction and give users their access back? Here we will illustrate the several ways in which you can remove the password from the Excel file and a single sheet, based on the two most typical scenarios: knowing/remembering and not knowing/forgetting your password.

If you work with online spreadsheets, then you may want to read How to password protect a Google Sheet as the procedure is different. On the other hand, Microsoft Office 365 plans also include Microsoft OneDrive - the online counterpart to Google - which has its own Personal Vault feature.

Now, let's explore the different ways you can remove your password protection from Excel in order to grant editing privileges.

How to remove a password from Excel?

In this section, we will cover the four different scenarios on how to remove a password from Excel: knowing the password of the Excel file, not knowing the password of the Excel file, knowing the password of the Excel sheet, and not knowing the password of the Excel sheet.

It is important to note that the steps screenshotted below apply to the latest version of Excel for Mac (2019, 16.29) and Excel for Windows (2016 and later version). If you are working with older versions of Excel, we recommend visiting Microsoft support.

How to remove password protection from an Excel file?

The following steps are applicable to removing a password to open and modify an Excel file if you remember the password:

  1. 1. Open the Excel file and enter the password set to open.

How to remove password from Excel file Enter password to open
  1. 2. Next, enter the password set to modify:
How to remove password from Excel file Enter password to modify

Once you have accessed the file, there are two ways in which you can remove it. The first will be explained through Step 3-6; the second through Step 7-9:

  1. 3. Go to the “File” tab and select “Passwords” from the drop-down menu.
How to remove password from Excel file From Passwords
  1. 4. A window will appear with both password fields filled in; “Password to open”, and “Password to modify”. If you wish to decrypt the Excel file fully, then delete both.
How to remove password from Excel file Delete Passwords
  1. 5. Once deleted, click “OK”:
How to remove password from Excel file Click OK
  1. 6. To see if it worked, save the changes, then close and re-open the file.
How to remove password from Excel file Click Save

The following steps will showcase how to remove from “Save As” option:

  1. 7. Repeat Steps 1-3, but this time select “Save As” from the “File” drop-down menu:
How to remove password from Excel file Save As
  1. 8. The following window will pop up. Click on “Options…”.
How to remove password from Excel file Options
  1. 9. Simply delete both fields for “Password to open” and “Password to modify”. Then, click “Save”.

Although in some cases the “Protect Workbook” (see image below) option is shown as an alternative to protecting an Excel File, it only restricts them from editing the file – users can still view it. If you don’t want users to see the data contained in the spreadsheet, you either need to encrypt the data as explained in How to lock cells in Excel, or learn How to password protect an Excel file, which requires a password to open.

How to remove password from Excel file Protect Workbook

How to Password-Protect an Excel File?

If you work with important data in Excel, you probably want an extra layer of protection. Here's how to password protect an Excel file

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How to Password Protect an Excel File

How to unprotect an Excel sheet?

Imagine that you want users to view the data contained in the Excel file, but want to avoid any modifications or alterations to a specific sheet. This is how you do it.

  1. 1. Open the Excel file you wish to unprotect at sheet level.
  2. 2. Go to the “Review” tab and click on “Unprotect Sheet”.
How to remove password from Excel file Unprotect Sheet
  1. 3. Enter the password set to protect the sheet and click “OK”.
How to remove password from Excel file Enter password
  1. 4. You should be able to see the “Protect Sheet” button again.
How to remove password from Excel file Protect Sheet

So far, we have seen how to unprotect an Excel file and sheet by using the originally set password. However, what if you forget the password? Before attempting to enter the wrong password too many times, this process can be simplified or more achievable through 3rd party tools.

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How to Share an Excel File for Multiple Users?

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How to remove password protection from an Excel file and sheet (without password)?

In order to remove password protection from your Excel files when you’ve forgotten the password, here is a list of tools you can use:

  1. 1. iSeePassword for Windows or Mac is a 3rd party tool that requires installation and registration. If the password to be removed exceeds a three-character length, it will prompt you to register for an upgraded version.
How to remove without password i See Password
  1. 2. An alternative method is to use Password-Find, an online service that requires no installation on your end since the task will be done on their server. The steps are straightforward and simple to follow. However, it may not consider your document to contain any vulnerable information. If this is the case, it will prompt you to use their supercomputer for recovery. This would take longer.
How to remove without password Password Find
  1. 3. Another alternative requires no installation, you simply need to follow the steps outlined by ExcelSuperSite. This last alternative may require you to install software to unzip the file, such as 7zip for Windows or Mac.

How to protect spreadsheet data with Layer?

Layer adds productivity features to your Google Sheets. Share parts of your spreadsheet, request input, and accept or reject changes to make collaboration seamless and more efficient while keeping full control over your data.

Using Layer, you can:

  • Manage Access: Give spreadsheet access to relevant stakeholders on a tab or cell level.
  • Review & Track: Consolidate input, and easily track changes.
  • Collaborate: Define, assign, and automate tasks and set deadlines.

Sign up for early access and start automating your Google Sheets workflows with Layer!

Conclusion

Removing password protection from your Excel files is an extremely important process to learn if you want to have complete control over your spreadsheet data. By the end of this article, you should be able to remove a password from an entire Excel file or sheet. You should also be able to remove the password protection in circumstances where you have forgotten the passwords, using the list of third-party tools we have provided.

That being said, we highly recommend that you keep all of your passwords safe when choosing to protect your Excel files. This will avoid the risk of a lock-out situation, which will take a lot of time and money to rectify. Moreover, always try to update or change passwords every once in a while and keep track of users that will require access to the file for editing purposes. Having the whole file or sheet password-protected can also delay your workflow and decrease productivity.

Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Jan 14 2022, Updated Sep 23 2022