Many people around the world use Microsoft Excel for different purposes, and it’s quite often to set password protection for important Excel files, which prevents Excel from unauthorized viewing, editing and deleting. However, if you forgot the password, try these methods on how to unlock an Excel spreadsheet and we have also recommended our personally favorite tool for unlocking purpose.

Part 1: How to Unlock An Excel Spreadsheet with Password

Excel file locked for editing? If you know the password, you can directly enter the open password when opening Excel. But how to unlock Excel Workbook structure or Worksheet with the password? Follow this step-by-step procedure to unlock Excel sheet:

If you are using Excel 2010 and 2013, 2016, 2019

Step 1: Click "File" on the toolbar and then select "Open".

Step 2: Navigate and open the locked file.

Step 3: Select "Review" tab on the top ribbon and click "Unprotect Sheet". If you want to unprotect workbook structure, then click "Unprotect Workbook Structure".

unprotect excel spreadsheet for excel 2010 and later

Step 4: Enter your password, and file will be unlocked.

If you are using Excel 2003

Step 1: Click "File" on the toolbar and then select "Open".

Step 2: Navigate and open the locked file.

Step 3: Now select "Tools" from the drop-down menu and then select "Protection".

unprotect excel spreadsheet 2003

Step 4: Now, choose "Unprotect Worksheet" or "Unprotect Workbook Structure". A dialog will pop up, then simply enter your password.

Hopefully this part answers your question about how to unprotect Excel with password. If you want to know how to unlock Excel sheet without password, then follow the solutions below.

Part 2: Unlock Excel Spreadsheet without Password

If you forgot your password for Excel file, you can try the following fixes about how to unlock Excel spreadsheet.

Note that we only recommend Soution 2 and Solution 3 if you are a tech person and confident with your tech skill, or you can try Solution 1 and Solution 4 to automatically unlock Excel.

Solution 1: Unlock Excel File with PassFab for Excel (Strongly Recommended)

It’s always a go-to option to unlock Excel file with a professional Excel unlocking tool like PassFab for Excel, which allows you to recover Excel open password and remove Excel restrictions, as this tool will save your time and patience, and you can do it without any tech skills.

Why choose PassFab for Excel:

  • It recovers your Excel open password and removes Excel restriction password
  • High success rate
  • Fast speed to recover your Excel password
  • Three attack modes to fully meet your needs
  • Super easy to use
  • It takes more time for long and complex passwords.
  • 01Download the program and launch it in your computer.
  • 02Choose Remove Excel Restriction Password.
  • unlock excel spreadsheet with passfab for excel 1
  • 03Click + button to import your password protected Excel file.
  • unlock excel file with passfab for excel 2
  • 04Click Remove button to start. Then PassFab for Excel will start processing. Wait for a second.
  • unlock excel with passfab for excel 3
  • 04Wait for a while until you see a screenshot below. Then click Open Folder to open and edit your Excel file.
  • unprotect excel with passfab for excel 4

    Tips: If you forgot your Excel open password, you can try "Recover Excel Open Password" to retrieve your password and unlock your locked Excel file. For detailed steps, check how to use PassFab for Excel.

Still feel confused about unlocking Excel without password? Watch this step-by-step video for instructions:

Solution 2: Excel for Editing with ZIP Software

This method is very simple. All you need to do is to 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:

Important: You can't use this method if there's an open password in the Excel file. In that case, try to recover it using PassFab for Excel in solution1.

Step 1: Download and install ZIP supported compression program like 7-Zip, WinZIP or PKZIP.

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.

unlock excel spreadsheet with zip 1

Step 3: Now find "xl" folder and then open "worksheets", then right click on your locked spreadsheet and select "Edit", this will open the file in notepad or any other editor you have installed.

unlock excel file with zip 2

Step 4: Find and remove this tag completely and close the editor: <sheetProtection... />.

unlock excel spreadsheet with zip 3

Step 5: 7-Zip will prompt to replace the existing XML file, select "Yes" to save modified version of Excel file.

Step 6: Now open the Excel file and see if your password has been removed.

If it helps unlock Excel file for editing, then congrats. If not, don't give up. We have other solutions for you.

Solution 3: How to Unlock Excel for Editing via VBA Code

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

Important: You can't use this method if there's an open password in the Excel file. In that case, you can recover Excel open password via PassFab for Excel in solution1.

Step 1: Open your protected worksheet in Microsoft Excel like any normal file.

Step 2: Hold down "ALT+F11", then it will open Microsoft Visual Basic for Application window interface.

Step 3: Click "Insert > Module" and then paste the below code in the Module window, then 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
unlock excel spreadsheet with vba 1

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.

unlock excel sheet with vba 2

Hopefully this helps unlock Excel sheet for editing. If your problem still persists, try the next solution.

Also Read: Fоrgоt Еxсеl Раѕѕwоrd? Try These Fixes

Solution 4: Unlock Excel Online (Less Recommended)

Apart from the solutions mentioned above, you can also unlock an Excel sheet online. There are plenty of online services for unlocking Excel, and you can choose the one you prefer.

Advantages and disadvantages with online Excel unlocking:

  • No need to download software
  • Easy and straightforward to perform the steps
  • Data privacy is not guaranteed
  • Most online services only supports either recovering open password or removing Excel restrictions
  • Most online unlocking services are not free

Here we take Password-Find as an example to unprotect Excel sheet online:

Step 1: Visit and click "Unprotect Your File" button.

online password recovery tool to unlock excel spreadsheet

Step 2: Upload your Excel file and click next, your file will be unlocked shortly.

how to unlock excel spreadsheet online

Now open your Excel file and see if your problem has been resolved.

Wrap It Up

These were some of the best methods you can use to unlock Excel spreadsheet. 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 Excel password recovery tool to bypass forgotten password on your Microsoft Office Excel file.

Part 3: FAQs About Unlocking Excel Spreadsheet

Q1: Why does Excel have two options for passwords?

Excel open password asks you to enter it when you open an Excel file, while Excel restriction password prompts to enter when you want to edit a worksheet or workbook structure.

Q2: How do you unlock an Excel spreadsheet without password?

You can try online Excel unlocker or professional Excel unlock tool like PassFab for Excel.

Q3: How do I remove protection from an Excel spreadsheet?

If you know your password, you can click Unprotect Sheet or Unprotect Workbook from the Review tab on your Excel file; If you don’t know your password, you can remove Excel protection using a professional Excel unlocker like PassFab for Excel.

Q4: Will unlocking Excel file cause data loss?

It depends on the unlocking method. But you will never need to worry about data loss if you try PassFab for Excel as this tool recovers your Excel password and removes restrictions without any data damage!