How to Override an Excel Password

By James Porter

Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Microsoft Excel

  • Protected spreadsheet or workbook

Cracking a password is difficult at best, but there's an easier way to unprotect a spreadsheet.
i computer image by blaine stiger from

Excel spreadsheets are widely used in office and home settings. Sometimes an old spreadsheet needs to be updated but has been password protected. What’s worse, no one remembers the password. Fortunately, there is an easy process that can bypass password protection on any Excel spreadsheet, letting you make the changes to bring it up to date. It’s as easy as copy and paste.

Make a new spreadsheet. Leave it entirely blank. If it is a protected workbook, instead of just one sheet, make a new workbook.

Click on the top left corner of the protected spreadsheet’s header bars (above the 1, left of the A) to highlight the whole sheet.

Copy the spreadsheet, either by pushing "Ctrl" + "C" or by selecting "Edit" from the menu bar and clicking on "Copy."

Click on your new blank spreadsheet. Click the top left corner to highlight the whole sheet, as in Step 2.

Paste the copied spreadsheet by pushing "Ctrl" + "V" or by selecting "Edit" from the menu bar and clicking on "Paste." You now have an identical copy of the protected spreadsheet—only it’s not protected.

Rename the new spreadsheet to match the name of the old one (you may have to first rename or delete the old one to do this, if they are in the same workbook).

Manually copy all of the page setup settings, if you need to print this spreadsheet just like the old one. With the old, protected spreadsheet pulled up, select "File" from the menu bar and click on "Page Setup." Go through the tabs and write down all the settings. Return to the new spreadsheet. Open the page setup box and enter the settings.

Repeat Steps 1 through 7 for each spreadsheet, if it is a whole workbook being copied. Rename the new workbook to match the old one when you are finished.


To protect the spreadsheet with your own password, select "Tools" from the menu bar, place the mouse over "Protection," and click on the appropriate choice. Enter a password.


Be wary of deleting the old spreadsheet to quickly, or at all. Wait until you have a complete, saved copy that functions properly with all of its formulas and formatting intact.