How to Lock a Cell in Excel

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Introduction

If you spent hours, or even days, working on an Excel file that you’re getting ready to share with a larger group, you may not want to give everyone a copy of that file where they can change all of the values. If there are some fields or values you want to remain fairly static, it’s easy to lock specific fields in your Excel file. However, there are a few caveats. The first is that if you want to lock cells in multiple sheets then you need to lock those sheets individually. And the second is that you can only do this in Excel for Microsoft 365 and the desktop version of Excel, but not Excel for the web. Examples of all instructions in the steps can be seen in both the YouTube video above and the image collection located beneath the steps.

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Steps to Lock a Cell in Excel

  1. Click the “Select All” icon in the upper left corner of your spreadsheet to select all of the cells in your Excel document.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your document to open a menu, and then click “Format Cells” in the menu. The Format Cells window is displayed.
  3. Select the “Protection” tab, and then click to remove the check mark that appears next to Locked. Click “OK” after doing this. The window will close. At this point, all of the cells in this specific worksheet are unlocked.
  4. While holding down the “Control” button click to select all of the fields you want to lock on this worksheet. Right-click one of the highlighted cells to open a menu, and then click “Format Cells” in the menu. The Format Cells window is displayed.
  5. Select the “Protection” tab, and then click to place a check mark next to Locked. Click “OK” after doing this. The window will close.
  6. After selecting all of the cells you want to lock in a worksheet, right-click the sheet name to open a menu, and then click “Protect Sheet.” The Protect Sheet window is shown.
  7. Review the options associated with what you want to allow users of this Excel worksheet to do and modify it accordingly. In this example, I’ll leave the options to select all locked and unlocked cells checked. Make sure the box next to “Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells” is checked, and then enter the password someone will need to unprotect the sheet if they want to edit it. Click “OK.” Re-enter the password again when prompted, and click “OK” again.

Now, whenever anyone tries to modify any of the locked cells, they’ll get a prompt that they need to unprotect the worksheet to do that.

Repeat this process on any other sheets where you want to lock specific cells in Excel.

Steps to Unlock a Cell in Excel

Yourself and other users can unprotect a sheet to edit locked cells by right-clicking the relevant sheet to open a menu, clicking “Unprotect Sheet,” and then entering the password. You’ll need to lock the sheet again to prevent people from editing the locked cells.

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About Max

Max has nearly 20 years of experience working in IT across three different industries in project management and management capacities: publishing, telecommunications and healthcare. He holds the following degrees and certifications: BS Communications, MA Communications, MBA and Project Management Professional (PMP). His tutorial-focused YouTube channel earned more than 100,000 subscribers in its first four years, and currently has more than 160,000 subscribers, 110,000,000 video views and an insane 2.4 million hours of watch time. Max enjoys learning new technology, reading and collecting comic books, listening to audiobooks and playing video games.

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