How Do I Unprotect an Excel Spreadsheet If I Do Not Know the Password?

by Bonnie Conrad
key. image by Yuri Bizgaimer from

The ability to protect a worksheet is one of the most powerful functions of Microsoft Excel. Once that protection is turned on, only the original creator and users who have been given the password can make changes to the spreadsheet. This prevents the inadvertent deletion or alteration of data and maintains the integrity of the spreadsheet. Even so, there are times when a particular user will need to use and change the data in a spreadsheet without the password.

Step 1

Log on to your computer and open Microsoft Excel. Open the protected spreadsheet.

Step 2

Highlight the entire spreadsheet by placing the cursor at the top left-hand corner of the sheet. You will see that all of the cells in the spreadsheet are now highlighted.

Step 3

Open a new spreadsheet by clicking on the "File" menu and choosing "New" from the list of options. You can also hold the "Ctrl" key down and press the "N" key to open a new worksheet.

Click on the "Edit" menu and choose "Paste" from the menu. This will paste the contents of the protected worksheet into a new--and unprotected--worksheet. You can now make any changes you wish to this unprotected version of the spreadsheet.

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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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