How to Unlock Grayed out Menus in Excel (5 Effective Ways)

In Microsoft Excel, the top of the screen’s Menu Bar provides access to many commands for activities like opening and shutting files, generating reports, formatting data, and other actions. Sometimes, while working with excel we may face the problem of a grayed out menu bar. In this article, we will demonstrate some effective ways to unlock grayed out menus in Excel.

Reasons for Menus to Be Grayed Out

The following are six reasons why Excel menus may be grayed out:

  • Working on a cell / Editing a cell.
  • Password-protected spreadsheet.
  • Workbooks are safeguarded.
  • Worksheets are organized into groups.
  • Obscured objects (Advanced display option).

How to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel: 5 Effective Ways

A menu shows a list of options. It is sometimes known as a drop-down menu that allows you to conduct activities. Some of these instructions are accompanied by graphics, allowing you to immediately connect the command with the image. The navigation bar, which would be the taskbar at the edge of the window, contains the majority of the options. These grayed out for several reasons shown in the above section in the article. Let’s solve the grayed-out menu problem.

1. Press Enter to Unlock Grayed out Menus in Excel

While editing a cell, all the menu options grayed out. If you look at the picture down, it clearly shows that the menu options are locked because we are editing cell D10.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

To unlock the grayed out menu, follow the below steps:

  • Press Enter on your keyboard after editing.
  • And, now you will be able to see the grayed out menus are now unlocked.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

2. Unprotect Worksheet to Unlock Grayed out Menus

If you are not editing any cell of your worksheet, but still see that locked grayed out menus. It may be because of protected worksheets.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

To unprotect the worksheet and unlock the grayed out menu, we may follow the small steps below:

  • Firstly, go to the Review tab from the ribbon.
  • Secondly, under the Protect group, click on Unprotect Sheet.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

  • This will appear in the Unprotect Sheet dialog, where we need to put the password.
  • Further, to unprotect the sheet enter the password on the Password box.
  • Then, click on the OK button.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

  • Finally, you can see that all the grayed out menus are now unlocked.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

3. Unlock Grayed out Menus by Unprotecting Workbook

When we right-click on the sheet tab, we may see that many of the menus are grayed out. It is because of the protected workbook.

5 Effective Ways to Unlock Grayed out Means in Excel

The steps to unlock the grayed-out option and unprotect the workbook:

  • To begin with, click the Review tab on the ribbon.
  • Second, choose Protect Workbook from the Protect category.

  • The Unprotect Workbook dialog will display, prompting us to enter the password.
  • To unlock the document, type the password into the Password field.
  • Then press the OK button.

  • Finally, it will unlock all of the options.

4. Ungroup Sheets to Activate Excel Menus

If you checked all the previous methods but still found the grayed out menus. This may be because your sheets are in the group. You may need to group your sheet by clicking on a sheet then press Ctrl and select all the other sheets but forgot to ungroup them.

To ungroup the sheets to unlock grayed out menus:

  • In the first place, right-click on the sheet.
  • Then, click on the Ungroup Sheets.

  • And, that’s it! You will see all the active menus.

5. Excel Advanced Option to Unlock Grayed out Menus

If you’ve tried all of the preceding techniques and the menu is still inactive. This is because you may need to change some settings from the Advanced options in Excel.

To change the advanced options to unlock the grayed out menus you need to follow some steps down:

  • Firstly, go to the File tab from the ribbon.

  • Then, click on Options from the bottom left corner of your Excel screen.

  • This will open the Excel Options window.
  • Further, click on Advanced.
  • Then, scroll down a little bit, and you will find an option Display options for this workbook.
  • Furthermore, from the For objects show selection box, select All.
  • Then, finally, click OK to complete the procedure.

  • And, lastly, you will be able to see that all the menus are now visible.

Important Note

If you are using the older version of Microsoft Excel like 2010 or something, you may still face lock grayed menus for two more reasons. To solve this problem, we may follow the below procedures.

  • Shared Workbook

Go to the Review tab from the ribbon on your Excel file. Then, you will find a group name Changes. Now, from there click on Shared Workbook and uncheck the box beside Allow changes by more than one user at the same time under the Editing option. Finally, click OK to complete the procedure for the Shared Workbook. This will unlock the grayed out menus.

  • Enable Change Tracking

Similarly, as before, go to the Review tab from the ribbon. Then, under the Changes group, click on the Track Changes drop-down menu and select Highlight Changes. Now, uncheck the Track changes while editing. Finally, clicking the OK button will solve the problem.

Download Practice Workbook

You can download the workbook and practice with them.


The above methods will assist you to Unlock Grayed Out Means in Excel. Hope this will help you! If you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback please let us know in the comment section. Goodbye!

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Sabrina Ayon
Sabrina Ayon

Sabrina Ayon, a Computer Science and Engineering graduate from United International University, has been an integral part of the ExcelDemy project for two years. She authored 150+ articles, excelling in instructing through visually engaging Excel tutorials. With a passion for teaching, Sabrina conducted sessions on Excel VBA, sharing her knowledge and insights with others. Currently holding the position of Project Manager for the ExcelDemy Visual Development Project, she oversees various aspects of the project, ensuring its smooth operation... Read Full Bio

  1. Reply
    Shanmuga Raja V S Mar 4, 2023 at 3:44 PM

    Thankyou so much. It worked.

    • Dear Shanmuga Raja V S,

      Thanks for your appreciation. Stay in touch with ExcelDemy.

      Shamima Sultana | Project Manager | ExcelDemy

  2. Thank you for the article. However, none of these suggestions enable the items on the Query tab.

      Thank you for your comment. I am replying on behalf of ExcelDemy. Power Query sometimes shows grayed-out menus if you try to perform mathematical operations in multiple columns at the same time.

      • To solve that problem, you can select the column >> select Standard >> select Divide (or whatever operation you want).

      • Select the Value according to your preference. Here, I want to divide by 200 because these scores are in 200 >> select OK.

      • Now, you can see the values in the column are divided by 200.

      • In the formula bar, add your preferred operations >> click on the Tick mark.

      • Finally, you will see that you have performed the grayed-out features without using them.

      If this tip doesn’t work for you then please share a screenshot of your problem or the Excel file with us so that we can see what is causing the problem and solve it.
      Mashhura Jahan

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