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How to password protect a Microsoft Excel document

If you use a computer, you probably have some Microsoft Excel documents on your Mac or PC that you wouldn’t want other people to find and read. After all, Excel is used by both regular consumers, businesses, government institutions, and millions of other folks all over the world.

Thankfully, it’s easy to secure an Excel 2016 document with a password. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do just that. In future updates, we’ll add instructions on how to secure Word and Word-compatible documents in other Word-like programs, like OpenOffice, and others.

How to password protect an Excel document

First, open the Excel document that you want to secure with a password. Then, click File, Info, and hit Protect Workbook underneath Info.

From there, click Encrypt with Password.

Excel will then prompt you to type in a password. Pick one out, but keep in mind that if you forget what it is, you’ll lose access to that document.

Remember, this only protects the single target document. Each Excel document you want to protect with a password must be done so on an individual basis, and you can check on whether or not a document is protected in the Info tab.

Microsoft Excel will prompt you to type it in each time you want to open a protected doc.

And…that’s it! Were you hoping for more steps? Well, sorry to disappoint — but it really is that easy to password protect an Excel document.

However, if you want to password protect an entire folder, things can get trickier. The easiest way to protect a large number of files is to encrypt them. Luckily, encryption programs are not hard to find. Several freeware options exist, and Windows 10 Professional users have a built-in encryption utility called Bitlocker. Check out our introduction to encryption if you want to learn more.