How to Hide Confidential Data in Excel (5 Easy Ways)

This article illustrates how to hide confidential data in Excel. Excel is not super critical about protecting your data. But, there are a few ways to temporarily hide confidential data in Excel if required. Here we will discuss 5 such methods.

How to Hide Confidential Data in Excel: 5 Easy Ways

Assume you have the following dataset containing employee information. You may need to hide sensitive information like phone numbers.

Follow the methods below to learn the ways to do that.

1. Apply Custom Cell Formatting to Hide Confidential Data

You can apply custom cell formatting to hide data from Excel cells. Assume you want to hide the phone number in cell F9 for some special reasons.

  • Then, select the cell first. Next, press CTRL+1 to open the Format Cells dialog box. Then, go to the Custom formatting from the Number After that, type three semicolons (;;;) in the Type field and then click OK.

hide confidential data in excel

  • After that, the phone number will be hidden from the cells. But, the Formula Bar will still show it. You can hide the Formula Bar from the View tab by unchecking the checkbox for it if required.

2. Change Cell Font Color

Alternatively, you can change the font color of a cell as its background color. This way the cell contents will become invisible.

hide confidential data in excel

3. Use Helper Columns

Assume you want to hide a portion of the data only. Then you can use helper columns to do that.

  • First, enter the following formula in cell G5. Then drag the Fill Handle icon to the cells below. After that, you will get the following result.
="***-***-" & RIGHT(F5,4)

="***-***-" & RIGHT(F5,4)

  • Now right-click on column H and select Hide.

  • After that, you will see the following result.

4. Protect Worksheet to Hide Secret Data

In the earlier method, anyone can unhide the column by right-clicking.

  • You need to protect the worksheet to avoid that. Go to the Review tab and select Protect Sheet.

  • Then, enter a password and click OK.

  • Then reenter the password to confirm and click OK.

  • After that, no one can unhide the column without unprotecting the worksheet by using the password.

  • You can also hide certain cell contents from the Formula Bar in this way. For that, you need to make the cells Hidden before protecting the sheet.
  • First, select the cells and then press CTRL+1. Then go to the Protection tab in the Format Cells dialog box and check the Locked and Hidden checkboxes. Next, click on the OK button.

hide confidential data in excel

  • After that, protect the worksheet and the cell contents will not be visible in the Formula Bar anymore.

Read More: How to Hide Part of Text in Excel Cells

5. Hide Excel Worksheet That Contains Secret Data

Alternatively, you can hide the entire worksheet if you want.

  • You need to right-click on the worksheet tab and select Hide to do that.

hide confidential data in excel

  • But, anyone can unhide the sheet to see the data.

  • You can protect the workbook to avoid this. Alternatively, you can hide the sheet from the VBA window.
  • Press ALT+F11 to open the VBA window. Then select the desired worksheet. The properties window will be visible below. Otherwise, you can make it visible from the View tab.
  • Now choose 2 – xlSheetVeryHidden for the Visible property using the dropdown arrow.

hide confidential data in excel

  • After that, the unhide option will be greyed out.

Read More: How to Hide Cells in Excel Until Data Entered

Things to Remember

  • You must use a password to protect the worksheet. Otherwise, anyone can unprotect it.
  • Excel, by design, is not super critical about protecting data. Regular users may find it complicated to work with protected Excel files. But, curious users can easily find a way online to bypass the protection.

Download Practice Workbook

You can download the practice workbook from the download button below.


Now you know how to hide confidential data in Excel. Do you have any further queries or suggestions? Please let us know using the comment section below.  Stay with us and keep learning.

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Md. Shamim Reza
Md. Shamim Reza

Md. Shamim Reza, a marine engineer with expertise in Excel and a fervent interest in VBA programming, sees programming as a time-saving tool for data manipulation, file handling, and internet interaction. His diverse skill set encompasses Rhino3D, Maxsurf C++, AutoCAD, Deep Neural Networks, and Machine Learning. He holds a B.Sc in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from BUET and has transitioned into a content developer role, generating technical content focused on Excel and VBA. Beyond his professional pursuits,... Read Full Bio

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