Forgot Excel Sheet Password? Here’s What You Should Do (100% Working)

author_icon Ronnie Barnes time_icon Last updated: Oct 15, 2019 03:08 pm tips_icon Excel

Sometimes it can become necessary to protect Excel worksheets especially when you need to share them with someone outside your organization. The best way to do this is to use Excel's own password protection feature. This feature makes it easy for you to add a password to any document to make some of the content in the document or the whole document inaccessible. It is very easy to password protect a worksheet and just as easy to forget Excel sheet password.

Maybe you chose a password that was extremely difficult to remember and you lost any record of it. This can mean that you are completely unable to access any section of the document and that you are even unable to edit or read it. If this is the situation you find yourself in, this tutorial will be extremely helpful to you. In it, we will share with you various ways you can use to recover the forgotten excel worksheet password and gain back access to the document.

1. About Excel Sheets

Before we get to the various ways you can use to recover the forgotten password, we thought we'd share with you some of the most important aspects of this password protection feature and how it works.

To begin with, the worksheet protection feature found in Excel is not a security feature. It is merely intended to make it harder for other people (people without the password) from accessing the data on the document. This is because the feature uses a very simple encryption algorithm to protect the document which means any password you use to protect an Excel worksheet will be easy to break.

This is especially true in older versions of Excel (older than Excel 2010). No matter how long or how complex the password is in these older versions, anyone with VBA knowledge can easily crack it. Recent versions of Excel like Excel 2016 and Excel 2019 use more sophisticated methods but can still be unlocked without the password.

But this doesn't mean that any protections you apply to your Excel document are worthless. They can be very helpful to lock Excel worksheets to prevent accidental edits. For example, you can lock formula cells to prevent accidental modification of any of the data on the sheet.

That said if you've set a password on your worksheet, the following methods can help you unlock it whether you have the password or not.

2. Unlock Excel Sheet with Password

If you know what the password is, the following simple steps will help you use it to unlock the document;

Step 1: Open the document you want to unlock in Excel.

Step 2: Now either right-click on the sheet tab and then choose "Unprotect Sheet" from the options presented.

unprotect excel sheet

Or, click on the "Review" tab and click "Unprotect Sheet" in the "Changes" section.

unprotect excel

You can also click on the "Home Tab > Cells Group > Format" and then choose "Unprotect Sheet" from the options presented.

excel format cells option

Step 3: Enter the password associated with the document and the click "OK".

3. Unlock Excel Sheet without Password

If you don't know the password or you forgot Excel sheet password, try one of the following solutions to unlock the Excel sheet.

3.1 Via Google Sheets

If you have a Google Drive account, there is a little-known but very simple way to unlock the document using Google Sheets. Follow these simple steps to do it;

Step 1: Open your Google Drive Account and sign in if you haven't already.

Step 2: Now, click on "New" and choose "Google Sheet" to open a new sheet.

google drive web interface

Step 3: Click on "File" and choose "Import" and click on "Upload" in the dialogue box that appears.

google sheet replace spreadsheet

Step 4: Click on "Select a File from your Device" to browse for the protected spreadsheet you want to unlock. Locate it, click on it and then choose "Open".

Step 5: Now in the window of importing file, click on "Replace Spreadsheet" and then choose "Import Data".

This imports the Excel worksheet into Google Sheets without the protection and you'll find it easy to edit.

3.2 Via VBA Code

Like we mentioned before, if you know your way around a VBA code, you can easily unlock an Excel document even without the password protection. Here's how VBA codes can help you unprotect an Excel document.

Step 1: Open the Excel and then press ALT + F11 on your keyboard at the same time. This will allow you to edit Visual Basic Code. You can also access it by clicking on "Developer > View Code".

Step 2: Now double-click on the protected worksheet and then copy and paste the following code into the window. Make sure that you copy the entire code without changing anything;

copy the code

Step 3: Click on "Run" or press F5 on your keyboard and that's it. Your Excel worksheet will be easily unlocked.

run visual basic code

3.3 By Copying the Sheet Content

Another very simple way to unlock protected Excel sheet and make it editable again is to simply copy its content on to another worksheet. The following is the most efficient way to do it;

Step 1: Open the protected worksheet and place your cursor in the "A1" cell. Press "Shift + Ctrl + End" on your keyboard to select all the cells in the sheet.

select all cells on sheet

Step 2: Now either create a new worksheet in the same workbook or open a new workbook.

Step 3: Place the cursor in the "A1"cell of the new worksheet and hit "Ctrl + V" on your keyboard to paste the contents of the protected sheet into the new sheet.

Note: You can only use this method if the "Select Locked Cells" and "Select Unlocked Cells" features are enabled on the protected worksheet.

protect formulas excel

3.4 Unlock Excel Sheet in One Click with Passper for Excel

All the methods above can be very helpful when you have a protected Excel worksheet without a password, but perhaps the most effective way to unlock an Excel worksheet is to use Passper for Excel. This program allows you to unlock any document regardless of how long or how complicated the password is. Some of the features that make Passper the ideal solution include the following;

  • It can help you gain access to an Excel Worksheet if you've forgotten the password, can't copy the worksheet or when you can't edit or print the workbook.

  • It is very easy to use, allowing you to unlock the document in just three simple steps.

  • It uses four different attack modes. Each is modified to suit a certain type of password.

  • It can also remove worksheet restrictions in a single-click.

Free DownloadFor Win 10/8/7/XP/Vista

Follow these simple steps to remove restrictions on any worksheet using Passper for Excel if you forgot Excel sheet password;

Step 1: Install the program on your computer and then launch it. In the main window, click on "Remove Restrictions" tab.

select recovery mode

Step 2: Click "Add" to import the protected Excel document into Passper for Excel.

add excel sheet

Step 3: Now simply click on "Remove" to eliminate any restrictions on the document.

remove excel restrictions

3.5 How to Recover Opening Excel Document without Password

Passper for Excel can also help you recover the opening password for any Excel document. Here's how;

Step 1: Open Passper for Excel on your computer and select "Recover Passwords" in the main window.

choose recovery mode

Step 2: Click on "Add" to import the protected file into the program. Once the file is open, select the most appropriate attack mode to help you find the password.

select attack method

Step 3: Passper will begin recovering the password. When the process is complete, the password will be displayed on the screen. You can use it to unlock the document.

recover excel password

Tip: How to Lock Specific Cells in a Protected Excel Sheet

Ordinarily, protecting a worksheet will lock all cells. But you can very easily lock only specific cells before protecting the worksheet so that only these cells will be locked. Here's how to do that;

Step 1: If the sheet is protected, begin by unprotecting it using one of the processes we've outlined above.

Step 2: Now click on the "Select All" button to highlight the entire sheet.

Step 3: Hit "Ctrl + Shift +F" on your keyboard to open the "Format Cells" popup.

Step 4: In the "Protection" tab, uncheck the "locked" box and click "OK".

Step 5: Now select the cells you want to lock on the worksheet and open the "Format Cells" popup again.

Step 6: Now under "Protection" section, check the "Locked" option and then click on "OK".

format cells excel

You can then protect the whole worksheet again and only the selected cells will be locked.


By Ronnie Barnes to Excel

Posted on May 16, 2019 ( Updated: Oct 15, 2019 )

Ronnie Barnes, a blogger with more than 5-year experience in writing tips about password recovery for Windows and office files.