How to password protect an Excel file

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

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. The best way to keep that information safe is to learn how to password protect an Excel file.

Adding a password

Step 1: In Excel, open the document you want to secure with a password.

Step 2: Click “File,” followed by “Info.”

Step 3: Next, click the “Protect Workbook” button. From the drop-down menu, then select “Encrypt with Password.”

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 4: Excel will then prompt you to type in a password. Pick one that’s complicated and unique and note it down in your password manager.

It is paramount that you remember it, or have access to a copy of it in a secure location, as if you forget it, you will lose access to the Excel file and recovering it will be very difficult.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

From now on, any time you try to open that file, Excel will prompt you to input your newly chosen password.

Note: This password only protects that individual document, not every Excel document on your PC. If you want all Excel files to have similar protection, you’ll need to password protect each file individually, or look at more advanced protections.

If you want to see whether an Excel file has password protection or not, check out the “Info” tab for the document and look at the “Protect Workbook” section. It will tell you whether a password is required to open it or not.

Now that you’ve password protected your most important files, it might be worth considering adding extra layers of security to your system. 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.

Want to learn more about it? Here’s our crash course guide to encryption, and another on how to get started with hiding files in Windows 10.

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