How to Unprotect a Protected Excel Worksheet

Ever come across an Excel file that you can open and view but if you wanted to edit it, you can’t, since it is has been protected? And when you try to unprotect, it asks for a password.

Here are a couple of ways to overcome the situation. While, you may not be able to make the original document editable without the password, you can create editable copies. Here’s how.

Situation 1: If the cells that you are interested in are selectable, then you can merely select the cells, copy the contents, and paste them into a new worksheet or file. The new worksheet would be perfectly editable. While, this may appear too simple, many people are not aware that this works.

Situation 2: There is a possibility that the creator of the file has disabled Cell selection while protecting the worksheet. Obviously you can’t use the first method to deal with such worksheets, because without the ability to select the cells you can’t possibly copy the contents.

Call Google Docs or Zoho Sheet to your rescue.

Just upload/import the excel file to either Google or Zoho and magically you are able to edit the file. Better still, export the file again into an .xls file and you can edit the file on your desktop using Excel. There is a slight difference between the way Google Docs and Zoho Sheet behave in this regard. While the exported file from Google is already unprotected, the file exported from Zoho Sheet, needs to be unprotected using the menu. But now you won’t be asked for password to unprotect.


  1. StarIdle says

    Thank you!! I hadn’t used excel in ages so had forgotten how easy it can be by just copying and pasting – I was going mad in frustration.
    Thank you so much for coming to the rescue – done in less than 20 seconds!!

  2. says

    Awesome! I had this problem a couple years ago and bought a little program/macro to remove the password. I misplaced the file and was looking for another one…then stumbled on your site. I used Google Docs and it worked like a charm!

  3. G says

    Zoho worked for me. The exported file is still protected, but you can select the entire sheet and copy and paste to a new file and everything becomes unprotected.

  4. IT Guy says

    This is a very useful knowledge base article. Zoho Sheet is wonderful, sorted out my problem. Google Docs couldn’t cos my file was too large. Thank you very much for sharing!

  5. Manoj says

    Amazing, I kept looking 2 days to unprotect sheet but this is the one which actually helped. Zoho sheet is superb. thanks mate

    • Jsullivan409 says

      did you try it with a macro-enabled file (xlsm). I did and it did not work, same file saved as regular xlsx worked fine – Google docs doesn’t like the macros…

  6. Hafeez says

    Hi there,

    your article helped me unprotect the excel sheet but I lost some of the data. Even though I worked around it to make it work. Thanks for the information. God bless

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