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Excel spreadsheets are widely used for online collaboration in companies big and small, especially since the release of the latest version. For example, if you want to share an Excel file so that multiple users can work on it simultaneously, the 365 version includes powerful co-authoring features to collaborate online. However, let’s say that you only want certain parts to be editable because there are complex formulae or reference cells that should not be modified. This is where knowing how to lock specific cells in Excel comes in handy - all users will be able to view all data but can only edit specific parts.

In this article, you’ll learn how to lock an Excel spreadsheet from editing according to the level of protection you’d like to apply. There are 5 different protection methods, including “Mark as Final”, protecting it with a password with a read-only status, and protecting specific cells. Alternatively, Layer is a complete solution for teams that want to benefit from advanced levels of collaboration while having full control of their data.

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How To Protect An Excel Workbook From Editing?

One of the great advantages of using Excel spreadsheets is that it offers different layers of protection and different ways to do so. Here, you’ll learn how to protect an Excel workbook using 5 quick and efficient methods.

Protect an Excel workbook from editing by using Mark as Final

The “Mark As Final” is a protection feature for your whole workbook. This is how you can protect an Excel workbook from editing by others.

  1. 1. Open the Excel file you’d like to “Mark As Final”. Go to File > Info > Protect Workbook > Mark as Final.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Mark As Final
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Mark As Final
  1. 2. Click “OK” to save with that status.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Click OK
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Click OK
  1. 3. Excel reminds you about the “Mark As Final” status and how to know if a file has been set to “Final” by checking the status bar, located at the bottom. Click “OK” to continue.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Status property
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Status property
  1. 4. Check the status by reopening the file. Excel should now prompt you with the following warning message. To edit, you simply need to click on “Edit Anyway”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Edit Anyway
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Edit Anyway

As you can see, more than a full protection measure, it’s a warning for other users to avoid editing since you can easily remove the “Mark As Final” status by clicking on “Edit Anyway”, as shown above. If you want to protect your workbook from editing completely, then you will have to protect it with a password.

Protect an Excel workbook from editing with a password

If you encrypt your Excel Workbook with a password, you’re restricting others from opening the file. Unless you provide them with the password, they won’t be able to view or edit the data.

  1. 1. Open your Excel file and go to File > Info > Protect Workbook > Encrypt with Password.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Encrypt with Password
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Encrypt with Password
  1. 2. Enter the password and click “OK” to save. Make sure that you read Microsoft’s “Caution” message passwords.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Enter password
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Enter password
  1. 3. Re-enter the password to confirm. Click “OK”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Re enter
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Re-enter
  1. 4. To check that this method worked, reopen your workbook. Excel should automatically prompt a message to enter a password.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Check encryption
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Check encryption

Check out How to Password-Protect an Excel File to gain a more in-depth understanding of how protection works in Excel. Once your file is password-protected, you might be interested in learning How to Remove a Password from Excel.

If you want to try out more advanced methods of protecting and unprotecting your file, read Protect and Unprotect a Sheet in Excel, which illustrates how it can be done using the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) feature.

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Protect an Excel workbook from editing but allow read-only

Allowing other users to open as “Read-Only” is a weaker level of protection since any user can still open the file and enable editing themselves. However, just like “Mark As Final”, it can serve as a precautionary measure for your team to be more careful when editing.

  1. 1. Open the Excel workbook you’d like to protect with “read-only” and head over to File > Info > Protect Workbook > Always Open Read-Only.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Check encryption 2
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Check encryption
  1. 2. Any user who tries to open the file will get the following warning message. To continue editing, simply click on “Edit Anyway”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Check encryption 3
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Check encryption

As you’ve seen, you simply need to click on “Edit Anyway” to be able to make changes. However, it’s useful to learn how to remove this feature as there may be other reasons why you may want to remove read-only from Excel.

Protect the structure of an Excel workbook from editing

Protecting the structure of your workbook will restrict others from deleting current sheets or adding new ones; in other words, it restricts others from using structural commands. This is how you can protect your Excel workbook from structural edits.

  1. 1. Go File > Info > Protect Workbook > Protect Workbook Structure.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Protect Workbook Structure
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Protect Workbook Structure
  1. 2. Enter a password and click the “OK”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Enter password 2
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Enter password
  1. 3. Confirm the password by entering again. Click “OK” to finish.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Confirm password
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Confirm password
  1. 4. Double-click on a sheet name to rename, and Excel should prompt you with the following message.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Cannot modify
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Cannot modify

After applying this option, anyone can open your Excel document, but they can’t access its structural commands, including adding a sheet, changing the name, or deleting any existing sheets.

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Protect specific cells in an Excel workbook from editing

To protect specific cells, you will need to protect the sheet. This is how to protect an Excel sheet from editing and copying specific cells.

  1. 1. Select the cell range you want to lock from editing. Right-click on the selected range and then click on “Format Cells” from the drop-down menu.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Format cells
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Format cells
  1. 2. Go to the “Protection” tab and check the box next to the “Lock cells” option. As Microsoft warns you, you’ll need to protect the sheet so this has an effect. Click “OK” to proceed.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Locked
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Locked
  1. 3. Go to the “Review” tab and click on “Protect Sheet”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Protect Sheet
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Protect Sheet
  1. 4. Enter the password and make sure the option “Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells” is enabled. Click “OK”.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Enter password 3
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Enter password
  1. 5. Re-enter the password to confirm and click “OK” to finish.
How to Lock Protect Excel Workbook From Editing Re enter password
How to Lock & Protect Excel Workbook From Editing - Re-enter password

How to Lock & Protect Google Sheets From Editing?

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Conclusion

As users become more specialized in their use of spreadsheets, so do the features of these types of applications. Excel is used by many to store key information that may be linked to external sources using complex formulae. In these cases, an accidental edit to a sheet or cell can have major consequences. Thankfully, there are many ways to protect an Excel workbook.

You should now know how to protect your Excel workbook from editing using 5 different methods. For more in-depth information on Excel protection, take a look at our related blog posts:

Layer google sheets add on offer
Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

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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 Nov 14 2022, Updated Nov 23 2022