Top 4 Ways to Unprotect Excel File

Internet has changed the world into a global village. Nothing is saved until it's protected by password or key. Password protection methods are used in workplaces where data storage and analysis are done in Microsoft Excel to protect their substantial records. These protections are used so that no unauthorized person could access or change the record. The only related person with the known password is allowed to access and update record. Here comes a situation when you somehow lose password or forget the password. Now even you can't unprotect Excel and can't access that file. Excel document password protection is weak. So, if you want to unprotect Excel file here are some solutions:

Part 1: Unprotect Excel Workbook if You Know the Password

If your Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 or 2003 file is protected with password and your work has completed, but now you want to deliver it to your boss, this is the time where you don't need the protection. Here is the easiest way to unprotect Excel file but you need to know the old password as well. if you know that simply follow the steps below:

Step 1. Open the document. Enter the open password to get full access if it has.

Step 2. Now navigate to File > Info > Protect Workbook > Protect Workbook Structure. A new dialogue box will appear before you displaying your old password.

protect workbook structure

Step 3. Now in-order to remove password you have to type the known password then click "OK".

unprotect workbook

Way 2: Unprotect Excel File if You Forgot the Password

Method 1. Use ZIP Software to Unprotect Forgotten Excel Password

If you have forgot 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. Its tricky but not difficult just go step by step:

1. 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".

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

xlsx to zip

3. Now open your zip file using related software. I used winnrar for that. And navigate to xl > worksheets and extract sheet.XML file(s). These sheet represents your excel files sheets.

open zip file

4. Now open the extracted XML file with notepad or wordpad and find the following tag: "sheetProtection password=… /".

sheet protection

5. Now select the whole tag and remove it.

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

7. 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.

Method 2. Use VBA Code to Unprotect Locked Excel File

Another way to unprotect excel file is by using VBA code. 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:

1 - If Excel file contain 2 or more protected sheets, run this code for each sheet.

2 - 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:

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

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

excel 2016 vba

3. A dialogue box will appear in the right pane. Copy the following code and paste it.

excel 2016 vba module

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

excel 2016 run code

5. 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.

Method 3: Use PassFab for Excel to Recover Forgotten Excel Password

If none of the above solutions work for you or you don't want to get into lengthy solutions here is the last solution for you. It not only recovers the password but it provides the opportunity to remove the password as well. You just have to install and run PassFab for Excel. Then import your protected Excel file and select any of the 3 options for password attack. There are 3 options available:

  • Dictionary Attack: It's the default option for Excel spreadsheet password recovery. If you have a password dictionary already, please import the dictionary file, it will help you sift the right password from the dictionary. Actually, this option guarantees great rate for success.
  • Brute-force with Mask Attack: Enter whatever you still remember in the password. This option will check the customize number, symbols, and characters to find your password.
  • Brute-force attack: This option will check all characters one by one to find your password.

After selecting the password attack type, click "Start" and let the software do rest. A dialogue box will appear with the password of your excel file. Use this password to decrypt your file. Here is the guide to use PassFab for Excel:

Step 1: Open the Excel password recovery tool click on "Add" to import the Excel file you want to open.

add password locked file

Step 2: Now select the Attack type and set parameters accordingly. There are three types of attacks which are Brute-force Attack, Brute-force with Mask and Dictionary.

dictionary attack

Step 3: Click on "Start" to recover the password.

searching file password

Step 4: Now you can easily open the file with the recovered password.

file password was found

With the help of above solutions now you can protect you excel file without fear of losing password. If your boss asked you get an old protected excel file fixed, you just need to go through one of the solutions mentioned above. You don't need to be IT expert for that. Or install PassFab for Excel to regain access to any Excel file.

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


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