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Allow Groups to Expand/Collapse While Spreadsheet Is Password Protected

By Chris Newman •  Updated: 05/27/17 •  4 min read
How to allow groups to expand or collapse spreadsheet while the sheet is password protected.

What This VBA Code Does

Unfortunately when password protecting your worksheets, there is no option to check that will enable you to allow users to use the expand/collapse buttons for cell groupings. The only way to carry out such functionality is to run a VBA macro.

The key to getting this functionality is setting the UserInterfaceOnly protection property to TRUE and then enabling the ability to expand/collapse row/column groupings. This code only needs to be run once per sheet. Afterward, you can password protect your sheet manually (knowing that the outlines feature will always be functional when sheet protection is enabled).

Change ActiveSheet Protection Settings

Here is the code you will need to run to enable the outline buttons to work on your currently selected spreadsheet tab.

Sub EnableOutliningWithProtection()
'PURPOSE: Allow Outline functionality while Sheet is Protected
'SOURCE: www.TheSpreadsheetGuru.com/the-code-vault

'Password Protect Current Sheet
  ActiveSheet.Protect Password:="", UserInterfaceOnly:=True

'Enable Group Collapse/Expand Capabilities
  ActiveSheet.EnableOutlining = True

'Unprotect Sheet
  ActiveSheet.Unprotect ""
  
End Sub

Change Every Sheet In ActiveWorkbook

As an alternative, you can run the following code to run on every sheet in your current workbook. Note that if you create new worksheets in the future, you will need to run this code again so that the new sheet(s) protection settings are changed as well.

Sub EnableOutliningWithProtection_AllSheets()
'PURPOSE: Allow Outline functionality during Protection in all Sheets
'SOURCE: www.TheSpreadsheetGuru.com/the-code-vault

Dim sht As Worksheet

'Loop through each Worksheet in ActiveWorkbook
  For Each sht In ActiveWorkbook.Worksheets
    'Password Protect Current Sheet
      sht.Protect Password:="", UserInterfaceOnly:=True
    
    'Enable Group Collapse/Expand Capabilities
      sht.EnableOutlining = True
    
    'Unprotect Sheet
      sht.Unprotect ""
    
  Next sht

End Sub

Using VBA Code Found On The Internet

Now that you’ve found some VBA code that could potentially solve your Excel automation problem, what do you do with it? If you don’t necessarily want to learn how to code VBA and are just looking for the fastest way to implement this code into your spreadsheet, I wrote an article (with video) that explains how to get the VBA code you’ve found running on your spreadsheet.

Getting Started Automating Excel

Are you new to VBA and not sure where to begin? Check out my quickstart guide to learning VBA. This article won’t overwhelm you with fancy coding jargon, as it provides you with a simplistic and straightforward approach to the basic things I wish I knew when trying to teach myself how to automate tasks in Excel with VBA Macros.

Also, if you haven’t checked out Excel’s latest automation feature called Power Query, I have put together a beginner’s guide for automating with Excel’s Power Query feature as well! This little-known built-in Excel feature allows you to merge and clean data automatically with little to no coding!

How Do I Modify This To Fit My Specific Needs?

Chances are this post did not give you the exact answer you were looking for. We all have different situations and it's impossible to account for every particular need one might have. That's why I want to share with you: My Guide to Getting the Solution to your Problems FAST! In this article, I explain the best strategies I have come up with over the years to get quick answers to complex problems in Excel, PowerPoint, VBA, you name it

I highly recommend that you check this guide out before asking me or anyone else in the comments section to solve your specific problem. I can guarantee that 9 times out of 10, one of my strategies will get you the answer(s) you are needing faster than it will take me to get back to you with a possible solution. I try my best to help everyone out, but sometimes I don't have time to fit everyone's questions in (there never seem to be quite enough hours in the day!).

I wish you the best of luck and I hope this tutorial gets you heading in the right direction!

Keep Learning

Chris Newman

Chris Newman

Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.