Skip to main content

How to lock cells in Excel

Locking cells in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is a super useful thing to know how to do. It’s used to protect a certain segment or an entire worksheet from being modified by anyone other than the spreadsheet’s creator.

For example, if you’re an employer and you create a spreadsheet with multiple drop-down lists for applicants, locking cells will prevent recipients of that form from tampering with any of the data.

Here’s a guide on how to lock cells in Excel.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Microsoft Excel

  • PC

Locking individual or multiple cells

Step 1: An Excel spreadsheet is already locked by Microsoft. Therefore, to lock individual or multiple cells, you’ll have to unlock the spreadsheet first. To do this, click the Green Diagonal button on the top-left side of the first cell.

The button to select all cells within a spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Right-click your mouse and select the Format Cells option from the menu.

The Format Cells button in Microsoft Excel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Select the Protection tab and unselect the Locked button. Click OK.

The Locked button found within the Protection tab in Microsoft Excel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: Now choose what cells you want to lock by clicking on them. You can select a single cell, multiple cells, a row, or an entire column.

Step 5: Within the selected cell or cells, right-click and choose Format Cells.

Step 6: Navigate to the Protection tab again, select the Locked box, and then click OK.

Locking specific cells in Microsoft Excel by using the Locked box.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 7: In order to confirm the locking of cells, click the Review tab. Now click the Protect Sheet option.

The Protect Sheet button in Microsoft Excel used for confirming the locking of cells.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 8: Choose what sort of protection you want from all the options shown. By default, the Select Locked Cells and Select Unlocked Cells fields are already ticked. You can also input a password for further protection. Click OK.

The cells you’ve chosen will now be locked.

The Protect Sheet window where it lists all the configuration options connected to locking cells.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Locking an entire spreadsheet

Step 1: At the bottom of Microsoft Excel, right-click the spreadsheet you want to lock.

Step 2: Select the Protect Sheet option. As explained in step 8, customize the different types of protection you want to apply to the spreadsheet, then click OK. As we mentioned in step 1, Microsoft already locks an Excel spreadsheet, so you won’t need to take the steps to do so yourself.

A shortcut to access the Protect Sheet option for locking an entire spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Editors' Recommendations

Zak Islam
Computing Writer
Zak Islam was a freelance writer at Digital Trends covering the latest news in the technology world, particularly the…
How to use Microsoft Copilot in Teams, Powerpoint, Excel, and more
Using Windows 11 copilot to summarize a document.

The Windows 11 Copilot AI is Microsoft's big push to bring modern artificial intelligence to its flagship operating system — and it goes far beyond the early integrations of ChatGPT through Bing Chat. This isn't your granddad's Clippy, it's a whole new way of augmenting Windows with truly smart functions.

Here's how to use the Microsoft Copilot AI in Windows 11 to make your life easier and more efficient.

Read more
How to install Android apps on Windows 11
Android Apps on Windows 11.

Windows 11 supports Android apps through the Amazon App Store, which is one of the biggest differences between Microsoft's latest operating system and Windows 10. It's not as simple as downloading Android apps and using them, though. You need to know how to install Android apps on Windows 11.

Read more
How to measure your PC’s power use, and why it matters

If you want to cut back on your PCs power, monitor it during intense workloads, or are just curious about its power use, you need to learn how to measure your PC's power draw. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways you can do this with greater accuracy. Solutions run the gamut from easy to more difficult and include both software and hardware options.

Here's how to quickly and easily measure your computer's power consumption in a few steps.

Read more