How to Remove Forgotten Excel 2010 Password

/ Posted by Shirley Howard to Excel / Follow @Shirley Howard

As the world has become global village. People protect their soft form of documents with passwords. But now there are a lot of things to remember in this world. As the time passes, age factor affects and you start forgetting things. Password is one of the most critical thing that you forget. Another situation is that when you access an old Excel file for reviewing and you came to know that it has been encrypted by its author. There you will be needing password to access that file. If you forgot Excel password 2010 there is a chance to recover that file. You just need to select one of the below methods and your Excel file will be decrypted in no time. All these steps are safe and secure. 

Way 1. Using 7-Zip

If you have forgotten your Excel file password and there is no way you could get that password back, here are some steps that could get your document back to you. It's tricky but not difficult just go step by step. You will be needing 7-Zip software for getting through these steps.

If your files extensions are not enabled, you have to enable them by navigating to Control Panel > Folder option > View and disable "Hide Extensions for known file types".

Now look for your protected Excel file and change its extension from .xlsx to .zip by renaming the file.

xlsx to zip

Now open your zip file using 7-zip and navigate to xl > worksheets and extract sheet.XML file(s). These sheets represent your Excel files sheets.

open zip file

Now open the extracted XML file with notepad or wordpad and find the following tag:

"<sheetProtection password=… />". shetprotection

Now select the whole tag and remove it. 

Now save the XML file and put it back in the same zip folder and replace the old one.

Close the zip file and change the extension back to .xlsx from .zip.

This method only applies to password protected workbooks. If the file is secured with the "Encrypt with Password" feature, it will not work.

Way 2. Using VBA Code

VBA code is another way to unprotect Excel file. It is one of the simple method but it has to be done step by step. But first you have keep in mind following points:

  • If Excel file contain 2 or more protected sheets, run this code for each sheet.
  • If your Excel document version is later than 2010 then first save the document as Excel 97-2003 workbook (*.xls), run the macro, and then save it back to original version.

Now follow the following steps:

Open your Excel file and press Alt + F11 to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications.

Now Right click on the workbook name and select Insert > Module.

excel 2010 vba
  • A dialogue box will appear in the right pane. Copy the following code and paste it.
  •  Sub PasswordBreaker()
    'Breaks worksheet password protection.

    Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer
    Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer
    Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer
    Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer

    On Error Resume Next

    For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66
    For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66
    For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66
    For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126

    ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _
    Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _
    Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)

    If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
    MsgBox "Password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _
    Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _
    Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)

    Exit Sub

    End If

    Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
    Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
    End Sub

    excel 2010 vba

    Now click on Run button and let the computer do the rest.

    excel 2010 run code

    When the code is cracked, macro will notify. The password will not be the same instead it will be combination of A's and B's. Click OK and the Excel document is unprotected.

    Way 3. Using PassFab for Excel

    If you lost or forgot your password, you don't have to worry. Use PassFab for Excel, a fast and easy solution to recover lost or forgotten passwords for Microsoft Excel file. It supports for Excel workbook created in MS Excel 97-2016. There are 3 powerful attack types wrapped in PassFab for Excel:

    • Brute Force Attack:

      It tries the combination of letters and numbers to generate password sequentially. technique will take longer when the password is long enough. These attacks can take several minutes to several hours or several years depending on the system used and length of password.

    • Brute Force with Mask Attack:

      This attack is used when you remember some part of your password. For example, if you still remember your password is 4 characters and begins with "z", then you can define the mask as "z???". This will shorten the time taken to crack password.

    • Dictionary Attack:

      Dictionary attack is highly recommended because it is fast if its used properly. This attack seeks password from the dictionary. This dictionary could be integrated one or the one you provide. If, the seeking scope is largely reduced and it is bound to save time for the process.

    • PassFab for Excel is easy to use. Here is the guide to use PassFab for Excel:

      Step 1. Open PassFab for Excel and to see its main function. In the main interface of it, please click Add option to import your password-protected document.

      add excel file

      Step 2. When you add your locked file, you'll see the general info of the file: size, last modified date, and password. The next step is to select a password crack type.

      dictonary attack

      Step 3. Once you confirm the attack type, click "Start" to crack password. The specific time depends on your password length, complexity and computer configuration. If your computer supports GPU, please select GPU Acceleration option before you click "Start".

      start recovery

      Step 4. Once the password is found, a dialog window appears and displays your password. Thus, you can use the password to unlock your file.

      start recovery

      Summary

      Go get all your password protected Excel 2010 documents and start applying one of the procedure mentioned above. For surely you will get access to it. This is helpful because when one has accidently lost the password, he/she can see and work on the data again by using any of the above approaches. Also there are some tools like PassFab for Excel, which can be used to crack or unlock the password of Microsoft Excel for you. They provide many methods to unprotect the Excel 2010 workbook.

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