If you are using a computer, you probably have some Microsoft Excel documents on your Mac or PC that you do not want other people to have search and read.
After all, Excel is used by the average person, companies, government agencies and millions of other people around the world. Whether you are creating graphs, converting PDF & # 39; s or just entering rows and rows of data, the best way to protect that information is to learn how to password protect an Excel file.
Adding a password
Step 1: In Excel, open the document that you want to protect with a password.
Step 2: Click on File followed by Info .
Step 3: Then click the button Protect workbook . Select Encrypt with password from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Excel then prompts you to enter a password. Choose one that is complicated and unique and record it in your password manager.
It is of the utmost importance that you remember it, or have access to a copy of it in a safe location, because if you forget it, you will lose access to the Excel file and restoring it will be very difficult.
From now on, every time you try to open that file, Excel will ask you to enter 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 the same protection, you must protect each file individually with a password or look for more advanced protections.
If you want to see whether or not an Excel file is password protected, view the Info tab for the document and view the Protect Workbook . It will tell you whether a password is required to open it or not.
Now that you have password protected your most important files, it may be worth adding extra layers of security to your system. The easiest way to protect a large number of files is to encrypt them. Fortunately, & # 39; s encryption programs are not hard to find. Windows 10 Professional users have a built-in encryption tool called Bitlocker, but if you want to download a free version with many customization options for many types of data, you can try Crypto Expert 8 or VeraCrypt open source downloads.
With Excel you can also apply more custom security options to your file if necessary. It is important to know what these other options do so that you can create the right security for your project. Under Protect document you will find several additional functions that may prove useful:
Mark as final : this marks the file as completed, so other people know they may not make any changes . This will not protect the file behind a password, so it does not really offer any security.
Protect current sheet : Protects the currently selected sheet with a password so that people cannot make changes. It's a handy option if there is only one sheet in the workbook that you want to protect, and you don't mind if people can see the info – you just don't want them to mess with anything. You will notice that there is also an option to do this with "Workbook Structure," which protects data throughout the workbook against changes unless people have the password.
Restricting access : This is an interesting option used by organizations where IT has created security templates that essentially lock Excel files for specific people or ranks only. It is useful in larger organizations where some people need access to the file, but not everyone.
Add a digital signature : This simply verifies the file as the real version, which is useful when sending it to other people or organizations, and to ensure that it has not been changed. It also helps to spy on files when you send them digitally.
Want to know more? Here is our crash course guide for encryption and another on how to get started hiding files in Windows 10.