Many people use Excel password protection in workplaces where data storage and analysis are done with Microsoft Excel. However, there is a chance that you may forget the password. In this case, the post will introduce 3 ways to recover your Excel password, and then unprotect Excel workbook which you forgot the password. Here we go, keep reading and select one of the sutiable ways for yourself.

How to Unprotect Excel Workbook [Change and Remove]

We search the info and test how to unprotect Excel file with password. For different versions, the steps are a little bit different. Now, check how to perform it.

Change and Remove Excel Workbook Password

If you are using Excel version above 2016:

  1. Open the Excel Workbook and go to the Review tab, click on Protect Workbook. how do i unprotect an excel workbook
  2. A window pops up to require password, enter the password to unprotect workbook.
  3. With the last step, you can work on workbook.
  4. Now, click on Protect Workbook again. It asks you to enter password to protect workbook, meaning that the password has already changed and removed with the above steps.
  5. Now, now you can set a new password if you still want to protect the file.

How to Unprotect an Excel Workbook without Password

The following methods are suitable for how to unlock a password protected Excel file.

Unprotect Exel Document with PassFab for Excel

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Unprotect an Excel Workbook with ZIP Tool

Here recommends a free method to you, that is to use ZIP software to unprotect XLS. It's tricky but not difficult. Just go step by step:

  • 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.

    how do i unprotect an excel workbook
  • Now open your zip file using related software such as WinRAR. And navigate to xl > worksheets and extract sheet.XML file(s). These sheet represents your excel files sheets.

    how do you unprotect an excel file
  • Now open the extracted XML file with notepad or wordpad and find the following tag: "sheetProtection password=… /".

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  • 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 Excel password protected workbooks. If the file is secured with the "Encrypt with Password" feature, it will not work.

Unprotecting an Excel Workbook with VBA Code

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 firstly you have to keep in mind the 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 the original version.
  • 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.

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

    unlock a password protected excel file
  • Now click on Run button and let the computer do the rest.

    unlock protected excel file
  • 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.


With the help of above solutions now you can protect you excel file without fear of losing password. If your boss asked you to 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 an IT expert, just install a PassFab for Excel to regain access to any Excel file, which also suits on how to unprotect a sheet in Excel.