How to remove password protection from Excel 365 / 2016 / 2019 workbooks?


Updated: October  2019

Applicable: Microsoft Excel 2019/365/2016; Windows and macOS operating systems.

Here’s a question we got:

Dear Team – some time ago i have created a quite sophisticated Excel spreadsheet for my manager which i password protected for increased security. The thing is that it seems that i have forgotten the password which i previously set. So i guess my questions is whether i can reset the workbook password protection since i have forgot it? Many Thanks!

As we just saw, in Microsoft Office we are able to set a password protection for our Excel files. In this tutorial , we’ll learn how to reset those spreadsheet protection password so you can edit the file contents. Although we are focusing on Excel in this post, the explanation below is mostly applicable to Word and PowerPoint files as well.

In Excel 2016, there are three main ways to secure contents in a spreadsheet:

  1. We have the option to encrypt the entire file: so that a password is required to open the spreadsheet.
  2. Protect the workbook structure and contents: here you can either protect the workbook from editing changes such as inserting or deleting sheets, rows and columns, formatting changes, ability to lock cells, etc’
  3. Protect the worksheet structure and contents: same as above, however applicable at the sheet level.

The method for un-protecting each is described below.



Remove  password from an Excel file

  • In your computer, navigate to your password protected Excel spreadsheet
  • When trying to open the file you’ll receive the following prompt

2015-08-11 22_11_30-Password

  • Hit File and select Protect workbook.
  • In the drop down box, select Encrypt with Password.

2015-08-11 22_14_31-Book1 - Excel

  • Delete the letters in the password and click OK.

2015-08-11 22_16_55-Encrypt Document

  • Now, your document password is removed.

Un-protect an Excel Workbook

In order to make changes to the structure of a protected (not encrypted) workbook, you need to unlock it first. Here’s how to:

  • Click on the selected protect Workbook under Review.
  • Enter the respective password in the Unprotect Workbook dialog.

2015-08-11 23_34_33-Unprotect Workbook

To Un-protect specific Excel Sheets

  • Click on the Unprotect Sheet in the Review.
  • Enter the appropriate password to unlock your pass protected worksheet.

2015-08-11 23_35_52-Unprotect Sheet

 Hope it helps!

Leave a Comment:

3 comments
Sat Khalsa says June 16, 2017

I have followed the above instructions, but the Password box is empty when I try to delete the password and the password does not get removed.

Reply
Brenda says June 26, 2017

I am having the same issue.

Reply
Sahan Kumar Koppal says June 8, 2018

This works perfectly with Excel 2016.

Reply
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