Top 3 Ways to Unprotect Excel Workbook without Knowing Password in 2019

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

If you have ever used an Excel Workbook, you may already know that Excel Workbook can store a lot of information. Inside one workbook, you can have numerous worksheets with related information. This makes Excel the perfect tool to track  important information like sales and expenditures or the performance of an advertising campaign. Most of this information can be important enough to warrant a password, which is why password-protection is one of the most important features in a workbook.

That said, sometimes you can be locked out of a protected workbook because you forgot the password or lost it. If this is the situation you find yourself in, worry not. This article will share with you how to unprotect Excel workbook with simple steps.

unprotect workbook

1. What is Excel Workbook?

Before we get to the processes that can help you unprotect Excel workbook, it is important to understand what a workbook is, since most people often confuse them with worksheets.

To be clear, a workbook is the collection of more than one spreadsheet, often known as worksheets in Excel. If you see an Excel document that has "Sheet 1", "Sheet 2" and "Sheet 3" tabs at the bottom, then this is a workbook and often the content on these three worksheets is related.

what is excel workbook

2. How to Protect Excel Workbook

Remember how we mentioned that workbooks often contain information that is important enough to protect? Well before we learn how to unprotect Excel workbook, let's first take a look at how to protect an Excel workbook. It is important to realize that you can protect the Workbook structure which makes it impossible to add, delete, move, copy, rename, hide or unhide the worksheets or you can protect the workbook windows which makes it impossible to change anything about the workbook and worksheet window including the size and position.

Here's how to protect the workbook structure and Windows.

Step 1: Open the Excel Workbook you want to protect and the click on "Review". Choose "Protect Workbook" under "Changes".

Step 2: In the dialogue box that appears, check both "Structure" and "Windows" and the click on "OK".

workbook structure windows

Step 3: Enter the password when prompted and then click "OK" to complete the process.

3. Unprotect Excel Workbook with or without Password

Now we get to the reason you came here: how to unprotect Excel workbook. In this section, we are going to offer you 3 solutions to unprotect workbook whether you have the password or not. To assist you to have a good understanding of each method, we have compared the performances of the 3 methods.

Method 3.1 Method 3.2 Method 3.2
Password Required or Not Require Password Doesn't Require Password Doesn't Require Password
Unprotect Workbook
Recover Excel Opening Password
Difficulty Level Easy Very Easy to Use Difficult
Success Rate 100% 100% 95%

3.1 Unprotect Excel Workbook with Password

If an Excel workbook is protected, you need a password to unlock or even edit the document. If you already have the password, the process will be very easy. The following simple methods show you how.

Step 1: Open the protected Excel workbook, enter the password when prompted and then click on "Review" and then click on "Protect Workbook".

Step 2: A small dialogue box will appear, requesting that you enter the password to unprotect the Workbook. Type in the password in the provided field and then click on "OK".

unprotect workbook

3.2 Unprotect Excel Workbook without Password

The process can be slightly more complicated if you don't have the password and unless you can find a way to figure out the password, you may not be able to open the file at all.

The good news is that we have a tool that is designed to help you recover the password no matter how complex it may be. This tool is Passper for Excel, and it is a password recovery program designed to unprotect Excel documents. Some of the features that make password recovery possible include the following.

  • Recover opening passwords: Passper for Excel is instrumental in helping to recover Excel opening passwords without affecting any of the data on the document.

  • Unprotect Workbook/Worksheet: Remove worksheet/workbook protection in only 3 seconds.

  • Unprotect Excel from various scenarios: It can help you unlock the password if you have forgotten the password, can't copy the worksheet or workbook, can't edit the content on the Excel document or you can't print the worksheet.

  • Highest recovery rate of 100%: It has one of the highest recovery rates since it utilizes 4 different attack modes to make password recovery possible even when you don't know what the password could be.

  • It is also very easy to use: You can recover the password in just three simple steps and remove restrictions in a single click.

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

To remove restrictions on the Excel workbook, the following simple step by step guide will show you how.

Step 1: Install Passper for Excel on your computer and then launch the program. On the main window, click on "Remove Restrictions" and then click "Add" to import the Excel workbook that you want to work with.

choose remove restrictions

Step 2: Once the document has been added to Passper for Excel, click on "Remove" and any restrictions on the workbook will be lifted. You can now edit the document any way you want.

remove restrictions

Passper for Excel also offers you the best chance to recover the opening password on any document. The following is how to do it.

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

Step 1: Launch Passper for Excel on your computer and in the main window, click on "Recover Passwords". Click on the Add button to import the document into Passper.

choose recover passwords

Step 2: The next step is to select the attack type you want to use. Keep in mind that there are 4 attack methods to choose from and the one you decide to use will depend on how much information you have about the password. Click "Recover" once you have chosen the attack mode.

choose password attack type

Step 3: The software will then begin recovering your password. This process may take a few minutes, depending on the attack mode selected. The password will be displayed on the screen when it is found. You can then use it to unlock the Excel document.

recover excel passwords

3.3 Another Way to Unprotect Workbook without Password

If you don't want to use a program to unprotect the workbook, there is one other way to unprotect an Excel workbook if you don't have the password. Here's the step by step guide you need.

Step 1: Open the Excel workbook in question and then hit "ALT + F11" on your keyboard to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications.

Step 2: Click on "Insert" and then select "Module" in the drop-down menu that appears.

unprotect excel workbook via vba

Step 3: Enter the VBA code on the module and then hit "F5" to execute the code. Wait for the process to respond (the process may take a while) and when it is complete, the workbook will be unlocked and you can proceed to edit it if you want.


The solutions mentioned above can help you unprotect any Excel workbook whether you have a password or not. It is, however, advisable to always keep your passwords in a safe place to ensure that you always remember them.


By Ronnie Barnes to Excel

Posted on May 30, 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.