Forgotten Excel Password? How to Open or Unprotect File!

In this digital era, almost every one of us sets Excel password on important worksheets, so other people can't modify it or delete it without permission. But many a times, people forget the excel password and are unable to access that very important worksheet.

If you have forgotten excel password, then you’ve come to the right platform. This guide contains all the information you need to recover the forgotten Excel passwords, including password to open and password to edit.

Below is a short description of five methods we’re going to walk you through.

Tool Recommendation (5 Stars) Success Rate Difficulty Supported Platforms Comment
PassFab for Excel 5 Almost 100% Very easy All Highly recommended
Online Password Recovery Tool 3.5 Very low Complicated All Works for limited cases
ZIP 4 High Lengthy and Complex All Works for limited cases
VBA Code 3.8 Low Difficult for beginners All Works for limited cases
Google Sheet 3 Low Complicated All Works for limited cases

Part 1: Forgot Password on Excel File? Retrieve with PassFab for Excel

When it comes to bypassing the forgotten password file, nothing is as efficient and quick as PassFab for Excel. Ranked as the #1 Excel Password Remover, it is a one-stop and easy solution to “recover forgotten excel open password” and “remove excel protection password.”

Here’s how you retrieve the forgot excel workbook password using this tool:

  • Once installed, launch Excel password recovery program and hit on the "Recover Excel Open Password" feature.

    forgot password on excel file – select feature
  • You’ll enter a new interface. click "+" to import Excel spreadsheet whose open password you want to recover.

    excel password recovery – import sheet
  • The program offers you to choose from three types of recovery modes: Brute Force, Brute Force with Mask and Dictionary. Choose the attack type and set parameters accordingly.

    excel forgot password to open – choose attack type
  • Now, click on Recover and wait until the program finds and removes your excel file’s password. You’ll see the progress bar at the bottom of the screen.

    forgot password for excel spreadsheet – password removing
  • Once it removes the password, a confirmation window will pop up. Click on OK and you’ll be able to access the excel file.

    forgotten password on excel file – successfully removed

Part 2: Forgotten Excel Passwords? Recover It Online [Password Online Recovery]

There’re many methods available online to help users open the password protected excel files. However, you must know that your files are insecure when you use web-based programs as third parties or intruders may access and infect your Excel spreadsheet with malware.

If you’re willing to use a Password Online Recovery tool, then:

  • On your computer, navigate to LostMyPassword website. You may choose any other tool of your liking.
  • On the home page, hit on “click here” to import the password-protected Excel file. The program will start removing the password automatically.

    excel forgot password to open – lost my password

Wait until the program cracks the password and shows it on the screen, then note it down and use it to open the excel file.

Part 3: Forgot Excel Password? Unprotect It with ZIP

The users who have forgotten the excel password can use ZIP software to get back the document. This method helps you access the file directly and it works only for excel version 2007, 2010, and 2013. So, if you’re using any other excel version or the workbook prompts for password prior to opening, please skip this part.

Here’s how you use ZIP software for xlsx password recovery:

  • Start the downloading and installing the 7-Zip tool. You can also use WinRAR or some other ZIP supported compression tools.
  • Now, rename the excel file extension ".xlsx" to ".zip" and hit on "Yes" if you see the prompted warning.

    forgotten excel passwords - rename file
  • Right-click the file and open it with 7-Zip prgram. Next, navigate to xl folder, and edit your encrypted workbook.

    lost excel password - workbook xml
  • Now, save the XML file and put it back in the same zip folder replacing the old one. Finally, rename the file back to .xlsx from .zip and you’ll be able to access it without password.

Part 4: Forgot Password for Excel File? Recover Excel Password with VBA Code

VBA code is another proven method to recover excel password with ease. This method is as simple as it can get but its biggest pitfall is that it works only when specific conditions are met.

Before using this method, bear in mind that:

  • This method works for Excel version 2010, 2007 and earlier. For excel versions newer than 2010, first save the document as Excel 97-2003 workbook (*.xls), run the macro, and then save it back to original version.
  • If Excel file contains 2 or more protected sheets, you need to run the below code for each sheet.

Follow the below steps to use VBA code to unprotect an excel file:

  • Open your protected workbook in Microsoft Excel like any normal file. Press Alt + F11 to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications.
  • On the main interface, right click on the workbook name and select Insert > Module and then, paste the below code in the "Module" window as shown in the figure.

     forgot password for excel file - excel vba module
  • Now, a dialog box will open. Copy paste the below code:

    Sub PasswordRecovery()
    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 "One usable 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

  • This code will be used to unlock the Excel file.

    forgot password on excel file - vba code method
  • After pasting the code, click "F5" to execute it and let the system unlock the password. A prompt screen will pop up, click "OK" to close it and the computer will cancel your password within a few seconds.

     forgot password for excel file - unlocked password vba

Part 5: Recover Forgotten Password on Excel File with Google Sheet

This method is probably the simplest of all to recover excel password. Before using it, create a backup of your Excel spreadsheet and then follow the blow steps:

  • Login to your Google Account and click on the New tab. Then, select Google Sheets.
  • From the upper tab, click on File > Import to open a dialog box as shown in the figure.

    excel forgot password to open - import excel
  • Now, click on Upload and choose the password protected excel file.

    forgot password on excel file - select a file
  • When it’s uploaded, select 'Replace Spreadsheet’ and then, click on 'Import Data'. It will open up the protected excel sheet.

    xlsx password recovery - replace spreadsheet
  • Finally, go to the File > Download as > Microsoft Excel. Now, your excel file is not password-protected anymore.

    lost excel password - save file

Extra Tip: Excel Worksheet Can't Edit? Remove Editing Restrictions with PassFab for Excel

When an excel sheet or any particular cells are locked with protection password, you cannot make any changes to it until you unprotect it. If you ever face this situation, then PassFab for Excel again comes to your rescue.

Here’s how you remove the Editing Restrictions using PassFab for Excel:

  • Run PassFab for Excel to open the Home Interface and click on the "Remove Excel Restriction Password" feature.

    forgotten excel passwords - choose feature
  • Now, hit on “+” sign to import the locked excel file and then, click on Remove to begin removing the password.

    forgotten excel passwords - choose feature forgot password for excel spreadsheet - remove password
  • The program will take hardly a few minutes to completely remove the restriction password. Hit on Open Folder and start editing the excel file.

    recover excel password – successfully removed


To sum it all, this article has discussed 5 most popular methods to access the password protected excel files. So, whenever you have forgotten excel passwords, you can fall back on this guide to see and work on the excel worksheet/s again.

We recommend users to install PassFab for Excel software which is the most efficient and reliable tool to recover forgotten password for any Excel file quick and easily.

Updated on / Posted by Shirley Howard to Excel Tips / Follow @Shirley Howard

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