How do I Recover a Forgotten Excel Password?

By Stephanie Ellen

Several commercial products are available to crack your Excel password.
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Protecting an Excel workbook with a password is a good idea if you don't want anyone else to have access to personal information. According to Microsoft, if you lose or forget a password, there is no way you can open the password-protected document without entering the password. However, there are software programs that can help you recover your password, even if your password is long or complex. If you are a patient person, you may be able to opt for a free program. However, if you want fast results, then you may have to purchase a more sophisticated software package.

Step 1

Click on the "Free Word Password / Excel Password Recovery Software" link (see Resources). The completely free download can help you recover your Excel password. The software package works by trying different passwords against yours. This is called "brute forcing" and may take hours or even days to accomplish. If you think your password is relatively simple, without complex characters like % or !, then this may be the software for you.

Step 2

Click on the "Password Recovery Engine for Excel" link (see Resources). The software can instantly recover any XLS file in just a few mouse clicks. The software uses a combination of brute force and dictionary attack (using different words from the dictionary) to try and guess your password. Options include setting different characters you might have used in your password (including Latin characters and digits) and specifying minimum and maximum password length.

Step 3

Navigate to Lost Password's Excel Key (see Resources). Excel Key can find a password for any version of Excel, up to Excel 2010. The software uses a combination of dictionary, brute force and Xieve. Xieve boosts the speed of brute force by looking for combinations of words like sweetgirl or mydoc. If you are in a hurry, the software can instantly remove the password so that you can access your document.