How to lock cells in Microsoft Excel, so people you send spreadsheets to can’t change certain cells or data

laptop Microsoft Excel

Locking particular cells in Microsoft Excel can be a slightly tricky process, but once you’ve figured it out, it can be extremely valuable. 

Not only does it allow you to share an Excel sheet and all corresponding data without worry over whether somebody will change values you need to have constant, it can also help make sure you or somebody else doesn’t accidentally erase values or headings you need to have. 

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How to lock cells in Excel

1. Select your whole sheet, most easily by pressing “ctrl” + “A” on your PC keyboard, or “command” + “A” on a Mac.

2. In the “Home” tab, click on the arrow under “Alignment” to open the “Format Cells” pop-up window.

3. Click on the “Protection” tab

4. Uncheck the box next to “Locked”. Most Excel documents will come with this checked by default. You need to uncheck this, then click “OK” at the bottom of the pop-up.

How to lock cells in Excel

5. Now select the cells you want to lock.

6. Click on the arrow under “Alignment” and again click on “Protection” in the “Format Cells” pop-up.

7. Click the box next to “Locked.” Then click “OK” at the bottom of the pop-up.

How to lock cells in Excel

8. From the top row of the toolbar click on the “Review” tab to change toolbar groupings available.

9. Click on “Protect Sheet” in the “Protect” tab.

How to lock cells in Excel

10. Once you’ve clicked on “Protect Sheet,” the “Protect Sheet” pop-up will appear and allow you to decide what will be restricted in the sheet.

11. If you want to allow the person you send the sheet to have full access to format, change, and move all data, except the cells you want to lock, check every box except for the top one (which says “Select Locked Cells”). You can scroll down and see if there are any operations you don’t want to allow them to make.

12. You will be asked to enter a password. Make sure you note it since you will not be able to unlock the cells without entering the password. Then click “OK” at the bottom.

How to lock cells in Excel

13. You will be asked to enter the password again to confirm. Once you’ve done so, the cells you selected earlier will be locked, but the others will be editable. 

14. To make all cells editable again, click on “Unprotect Sheet” — which is on the “Protect” tab under “Review” — and re-enter your password. The cells will now be unlocked.

How to lock cells in Excel

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