How to Unlock An Excel Spreadsheet

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

People around the world use Microsoft Excel for different purposes, sometimes there is a need to set password protection for sensitive data. Password encryption allows prevention of unauthorized viewing, modification and deletion. It is nothing new to forget password, if you have done the same mistake and have been locked out of your file then keep on reading we will discuss some of the most used methods on how to unlock Excel spreadsheet and we have also recommended our personal favorite tool for unlocking purpose.

Option 1: Unlock Excel When You Know Password

If you know the password but not sure how to unlock Excel spreadsheet then follow this step by step procedure to remove protection:

For Excel 2003

  • Step 1: Click “File” on the toolbar and then select “Open”.
  • Step 2: Navigate and open the locked file.
unprotect excel 2003
  • Step 3: Now select “Tools” drop-down menu and then select “Protection”.
  • Step 4: Now, choose “Unprotect Worksheet”, password will be prompted, simply enter it.
  • For Excel 2010 and 2013, 2016

    • Step 1: Click “File” on the toolbar and then select “Open”.
    • Step 2: Navigate and open the locked file.
    • unprotect excel 2016
    • Step 3: Select “Review” tab on the top ribbon and click “Unprotect Sheet”.
    • Step 4: Enter password, file will be unlocked

    This method will unlock cells in Excel if you know the password, if you want to unlock the file without knowing the password then follow later solutions

    Option 2: Unlock Excel File When You Don’t Know The Password

    Solution 1: Use ZIP Software

    This method is very simple, all you need to do is remove a certain flag by opening and editing your Excel file through any ZIP compression software like 7-Zip and WinRAR. Follow the below instructions if you want to know how to unlock cells in Excel:

    • Step 1: Download and Install ZIP supported compression program like 7-Zip.
    • open with 7zip
    • Step 2: Open the Excel file using 7-Zip, you can do that by right clicking the file and opening it with 7-Zip program, you will see several files and folders.
    • edit excel
    • Step 3: Now find “xl” folder and right click on “workbook.xml” and select “Edit”, this will open the file in notepad or any other editor you have installed.
    • delete tag
    • Step 4: Find and Remove this tag completely and close the editor.
      “<workbookProtection workbookPassword="93AF" lockStructure="1" lockWindows="1"/>”
    • Step 5: 7-Zip will prompt to replace the existing XML file, select “Yes” to save modified version of  Excel file.
    • Step 6: If you have password protection on worksheet then navigate to ‘’xl\worksheets\sheet1.xml” and remove the tag “<sheetProtection … >” instead to remove password from worksheet.
    • Step 7: Now open the excel file, your password will be removed.

    Solution 2: Use VBA Code

    This method crack opens your Excel file by executing a chunk of VBA code, the only downside to this solution is that it doesn’t work with latest versions of Microsoft Excel.

    • Step 1: Open your protected worksheet in Microsoft Excel like any normal file.
    • open vb
    • Step 2: Hold down “ALT+F11”, it will open Microsoft Visual Basic for Application window interface.
    • open vb
    • Step 3: Click “Insert>Module” and then paste the below code in the Module Window, this code will be used to unlock the Excel file.
    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
    unlocked password
  • Step 4: Once pasted, click “F5” to execute this code, prompt screen will appear. Then click “OK” to close it and your password will be canceled shortly.
  • Solution 3: Use Free Online Excel Password Unlocker

    This method involves use of online service to crack password for your Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet, it comes with own pros and cons. One of the main benefit of using this solution is that you will need very less time to open password with brute force attack because cloud will do all the computation. There are number of Online Excel Password unlocking service available, you can use as you desire.

    • Step 1: Visit
    • online recovery
    • Step 2: Click ‘Unprotect Your File” button.
    • online recovery open file
    • Step 3: Upload your file and click next, your file will be unlocked shortly.
    • online recovery next

      Solution 4: Use PassFab for Excel

      As one of the best Excel unlocking tools available, PassFab for Excel can unprotect your file by deciphering the password using Brute force attacks. Most interestingly it offers 3 different types of brute force attacks which can optimize your process with some parameters, this tool works for almost every version of Microsoft Excel file and can use multi CPU and GPU support for faster decryption. This is how you can use this program to unlock Excel File:

      Free Try PassFab for Excel Now:
      Free Download For Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
      Secure Download
      • Step 1: Open the program
      • Step 2: You will see below interface, Now click “Add” to import to import  Excel spreadsheet whose password you want to recover.
      • select file
      • Step 3: There are 3 types of attack available, Brute force, Brute force with mask, Brute force with dictionary. Choose the attack type and set parameters accordingly.
      • Note: Dictionary Attack can be used when you already have a dictionary file, Brute force with Mask attack let you crack the password with whatever you remember, Brute force attack will try all the combinations to unlock the password.

        dictionary attack
      • Step 4: Click “Start”, this will initiate brute force attack, it may take time according to password length and complexity
      • recovering password
      • Step 5: Your password will be cracked once the attack is complete and a window will pop up having the password
      • password cracked

      These were some of the best methods you can use to unlock your Excel workbooks and spreadsheets, we introduced simple tricks like using ZIP and VBA code, we have also explained how you can use an online service for password decryption and at last we have recommended our personal favorite offline tool to bypass forgotten password on your Microsoft Office Excel file.

      Free Try PassFab for Excel Now:
      Free Download For Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
      Secure Download

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