How to Unprotect a Workbook in Excel (5 Methods)

To demonstrate how to unprotect a workbook in Excel, let’s consider a dataset with two worksheets: “Sales Record of Year 2021” and “Sales Record of Year 2022.” Both worksheets contain 7 rows and 3 columns.

Method 1 – Unprotect Excel Workbook from the Review Tab:

  • Go to the Review tab.
  • Click on Protect and select Protect Workbook.

2- selecting protect workbook option from review tab

  • A small dialog box called Unprotect Workbook will appear.
  • Enter the password you set while protecting the workbook (e.g., 12345).
  • Click OK.

3- entering password into the Unprotect Workbook dialog box

  • The protected workbook will now be accessible as an unprotected workbook, allowing you to add or delete sheets.

4- unprotecting Excel workbook with password from review tab

Method 2 – Unprotect Excel Workbook Using Excel’s Info Feature:

  • Open your Excel workbook.
  • Go to File, then select Info.
  • Click on Protect Workbook and choose Encrypt with Password.

5- selecting Encrypt with Password option from protect workbook section

  • In the Encrypt Document dialog box, delete the existing password.

6- appeared Encrypt Document dialog box

  • Click OK.

7- deleting password to unprotect a workbook by using Excel’s built-in Info feature

  • Save the workbook and close the Excel file.

8- saving the Excel file after deleting password

  • Reopen the Excel file, and you won’t need a password to access the data.

9- unprotecting an Excel workbook with password by using Excel’s built-in Info feature

Method 3 – Unprotect Excel Workbook with VBA Code:

  • Press ALT + F11 to open Visual Basic.
  • Click Insert and select Module.
  • Insert the following code in the code editor:
Sub Unprotect_Workbook_with_Password()
Dim p As Integer, q As Integer, r As Integer
Dim s As Integer, t As Integer, u As Integer
Dim X_1 As Integer, X_2 As Integer, X_3 As Integer
Dim X_4 As Integer, X_5 As Integer, X_6 As Integer
On Error Resume Next
For p = 65 To 66: For q = 65 To 66: For r = 65 To 66
For s = 65 To 66: For t = 65 To 66: For X_1 = 65 To 66
For X_2 = 65 To 66: For X_3 = 65 To 66: For X_4 = 65 To 66
For X_5 = 65 To 66: For X6 = 65 To 66: For u = 32 To 126
ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(p) & Chr(q) & Chr(r) & _
Chr(s) & Chr(t) & Chr(X_1) & Chr(X_2) & Chr(X3) & _
Chr(X_4) & Chr(X_5) & Chr(X6) & Chr(u)
If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
MsgBox "Possible password: " & Chr(p) & Chr(q) & _
Chr(r) & Chr(s) & Chr(t) & Chr(X_1) & Chr(X2) & _
Chr(X_3) & Chr(X_4) & Chr(X_5) & Chr(X_6) & Chr(u)
Exit Sub
End If
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
End Sub

10- VBA code to unprotect Excel workbook with password

  • Press F5 to run the entire code.
  • The code will attempt to find a possible password. If successful, it will display it in a message box.
  • Click OK to proceed.

10.5- showed possible password after running the VBA code

Method 4 – Unprotect Excel Workbook Using Google Sheets:

  • Open a new Google Sheet.

11- opening a new Google Sheet by clicking on Blank

  • Go to the File menu and select Import.

12- selecting importing option from file menu to unprotect Excel workbook using google sheets

  • Choose the Upload option and browse for your Excel file.

13- selecting browse from upload section

  • Click Open.

14- selecting file to open to unprotect Excel workbook using google sheets

  • Import the data.

15- selecting import data option to unprotect Excel workbook using google sheets

  • As a result, you will be able to import your Excel file into Google Sheets.

16- imported Excel file into Google Sheets to unprotect it

  • Go to the File menu, select Download, and choose Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).

17- choosing Microsoft Excel(.xlsx) from download section under File menu

  • Save the file with a new name.
  • Open the file, and you won’t need any password to access the data.

18- unprotecting Excel workbook using google sheets

Method 5 – Unprotect an Excel Workbook by Copying Contents to a New Workbook:

5.1 Use of Copy-Paste Options

In this section, we’ll explore the fastest and most straightforward way to unprotect an Excel workbook without needing passwords. Follow these steps:

  • Press Ctrl + A to select the entire worksheet in the protected workbook.
  • Copy the worksheet by pressing Ctrl + C or right-clicking and selecting Copy.

19- copying contents from the unprotected Excel workbook

  • Open a new workbook and paste the copied content using Ctrl + V.
  • Finally, open the new workbook, and it will be accessible without requiring a password.

20- unprotecting Excel workbook by copying contents to a new workbook

This method allows you to unprotect an Excel workbook by transferring its contents to a new workbook.

5.2 Use of VBA Code

You can also utilize VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) code to unprotect an Excel workbook without a password. Here’s how:

  • Press ALT + F11 on your keyboard to open the Visual Basic editor.
  • Click Insert and select Module.
  • Insert the following code into the code editor:
Sub Unprotect_Workbook_without_Password()
  For Each sh In ActiveWorkbook.Sheets
       sh.Visible = True
End Sub
  • Press F5 to run the entire code.
  • The code will create a new workbook with the same content as the original workbook but without protection.

21- new workbook opened up after running the VBA code successfully

  • Using this VBA macro, you can successfully unprotect an Excel workbook without needing a password.

22- VBA code to unprotect Excel workbook without password

How to Unprotect Worksheet in Excel

1. Unprotect Excel Worksheet with Password

Unprotecting an Excel worksheet is straightforward. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Review tab.
  2. Select Unprotect Sheet under the Protect section.
  3. Enter the password that was previously used to protect the worksheet.
  4. Click OK.


23- unprotecting Excel worksheet

This process allows you to unprotect an Excel worksheet easily.

2. Remove Password to Unprotect Specific Sheets in an Excel Workbook

To unprotect a specific sheet in an Excel workbook by removing the password, follow these steps:

  • Right-click on the Excel file you want to unprotect and select Rename.

24- selecting rename option to remove password to unprotect Excel workbook

  • Remove the .xlsm extension (since we have a VBA macro) and add .zip.
  • Press Enter.

25- removing .xlsx extension and adding .zip extension to the file

  • Open the zipped folder by double-clicking it and navigate to the xl folder.

26- opening the xl folder of the zipped folder

  • Open the worksheets folder within the xl folder.

27- opening the worksheets folder in the xl folder

  • Copy the sheet1.xml file using Ctrl + C.

28- copying the sheet1.xml file in the xl folder

  • Paste it into your desired folder.
  • Open the XML file in Notepad.

29- opening sheet1.xml file in notepad to remove password to unprotect Excel workbook

  • Use Ctrl + F to open the Find search box.
  • Search for “Protection” and click Find Next.

30- finding Protection in the Find what box

  • Select the <sheetProtection> tag and drag the mouse to the end of the /> tag.
  • Remove the selected line from the code and save the file with Ctrl + S.

31- removing selected line from the sheet1.xml file and saving it

  • Copy the modified file using Ctrl + C and replace the original file.

32- copying the modified file and paste it using Copy and Replace option

  • Rename the zip folder by removing the .zip extension and adding .xlsm.

33- renaming the zip folder by removing the .zip extension and adding the .xlsm extension

  • Finally, open the file, and it will be viewable without a password.

34- removed password to unprotect Excel workbook

These steps allow you to remove the password and unprotect specific sheets in an Excel workbook.

Unprotecting a Workbook vs. Unprotecting a Worksheet in Excel

In Excel, protecting both workbooks and individual worksheets prevents unauthorized access or modification. However, unprotecting a workbook and unprotecting a worksheet serve different purposes:

  • Unprotecting a Workbook: Allows structural modifications to the entire workbook, such as adding, deleting, concealing, or renaming worksheets. It also enables changes to workbook properties and settings.
  • Unprotecting a Worksheet: Allows modifications to the worksheet’s data and formatting, such as altering cell content, inserting or deleting rows and columns, and applying or removing filters. Other worksheets remain protected unless explicitly unprotecting them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Shortcut to Unprotect a Workbook?The shortcut to unprotect Excel workbooks depends on the version you are using. Here are the common shortcuts for different Excel versions:
    • Excel 2010 and Later Versions: Press Alt + R, followed by G, and then U.
    • Excel 2007: Press Alt + R, followed by U.
    • Excel 2003 and Earlier Versions: Press Alt + T, followed by P. Then, press U.
  2. What Are the Workbook Protection Types in Excel?A workbook can be protected at the file or worksheet level in Excel. Excel provides three levels of password protection:
    • Password Protection for Opening Files: Requires a password to open the workbook.
    • Password Protection for Changing Data: Requires a password to modify data within the workbook.
    • Password Protection for Adding, Deleting, or Hiding Worksheets: Controls access to structural changes in the workbook.
  3. What Are Workbook Properties?Workbook properties in Excel include information such as the author, title, subject, creation date, and modification date. You can access and modify these properties through the document properties settings.

Key Takeaways from the Article

In this article, we covered effective ways to unprotect a workbook:

  • Unprotecting a workbook with or without a password.
  • Using VBA macros to unprotect Excel workbooks.
  • Step-by-step procedures for each method.
  • Unprotecting an Excel worksheet.
  • Understanding the differences between unprotecting a workbook and a worksheet.

Download Practice Workbook

You can download the practice workbook from here:

Unprotect Workbook in Excel: Knowledge Hub

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Nujat Tasnim
Nujat Tasnim

Nujat Tasnim, BSc in Computer Science and Engineering from American International University-Bangladesh, has a year-long tenure with ExcelDemy. Initially a Content Developer at SOFTEKO, she transitioned to the Software Team as Junior Software Quality Assurance Engineer. Currently serving as a Junior SQA Engineer at SOFTEKO, she excels in SDLC, STLC, and requirement analysis and possesses profound insights into OOP-related software development processes. Nujat is also proficient in design software like Photoshop and Illustrator, contributing diverse skills to her... Read Full Bio

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