How To Password Protect Opening An Excel File

Protecting Your Excel Files With A Password

There are often files within an organization that need to be restricted from certain people due to the sensitivity of it's contents.  As I have discussed in my article Understanding Excel's Password Security Methodology, Excel's file protection is by far the most secure level of protection (versus Workbook and Worksheet protections) as it uses an AES encryption algorithm.  

I usually do not have a need to protect too many files as I typically manage permissions at the folder level, however I do store my passwords in an Excel workbook (similar to the below template*) and I definitely want that particular file as secure as possible. So let's walk through the steps to encrypt your Excel workbook with a password.

*You can download my personal Excel template for tracking your passwords for free here.  It utilizes VBA code to pull in icons for each of your password lines. Check it out!

*You can download my personal Excel template for tracking your passwords for free here.  It utilizes VBA code to pull in icons for each of your password lines. Check it out!

Adding A Password To Open Up Your File

Inside Excel, navigate to the Save As dialog box (File > Save As > Browse).  In the Save As dialog box, click the Tools drop-down menu near the bottom of the dialog box.

Select General Options... from the Tools menu

Type in your desired password in the Password to Open field. Click OK and you will then need to verify your password by entering it in again.  Now your file has a password to prevent intruders from opening up and viewing your Excel file.  Click the Save button to save your file with its protection.

Access Denied

After you have saved your password protection settings, your file will prompt for a password from any user who tries to access it.  Make sure you don't make your password generic like your company's name or "finance" as most people will be able to guess that quite easily.  Typically if you can add at least one number or capital letter into the password, that is enough to thwart most people from spending too much time trying to guess the password.

More On Password Protection

You May Also Want To Check Out!

My Password Recovery add-in will allow you to recover any lost password that was protected within Excel 2010 and prior.  The add-in runs in Excel 2007 - 2013 and can even remove passwords from multiple worksheet tabs at the same time!  Proceeds from this add-in go towards paying the costs to run this website and keeping it AD-FREE!  So check out the promotional page by clicking the button below to see if this add-in can ease your pain of dealing with forgotten worksheet passwords.