Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Protecting an Entire Workbook.

Protecting an Entire Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 2, 2019)

Excel provides a way that you can protect an entire workbook. To stop the user from taking actions such as renaming a worksheet or inserting new worksheets, you must use workbook-level protection. To protect your workbook, display the Review tab of the ribbon and click the Protect Workbook tool in the Changes group (Protect group if you are using Excel 2016 or a later version). Excel displays the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Protect Structure and Windows dialog box.

The two check boxes in the dialog box allow you to indicate exactly what should be protected in the workbook. The choices are as follows:

  • Structure. Prevents any changes to the worksheets themselves. The user cannot change the order of any worksheets, their names, add new ones, or delete existing ones.
  • Windows. Stops the user from moving any windows used in the workbook.

At the bottom or in the middle of the dialog box (depending on which version of Excel you are using) you can specify a password to use for this level of protection. When you click the OK button, Excel asks you to repeat any password you specified. If you did not provide a password, then Excel simply protects your workbook directly.

If you later want to remove the protection applied to a workbook, you do so by following the same steps you used to protect it: Display the Review tab of the ribbon and click the Protect Workbook tool in the Changes group (Protect group if you are using Excel 2016 or a later version). If you used a password to protect the workbook, Excel displays the Unprotect Workbook dialog box. At this point, all you need to do is enter the correct password and the workbook is unprotected.

You should note that protecting a workbook without protecting the worksheets it contains doesn't offer much protection. (Protecting worksheets is covered in other issues of ExcelTips.) The reason is that even though a user cannot delete a worksheet in a protected workbook, they can delete the information the worksheet contains. In other words, workbook protection does not protect the contents of your workbook at any level "lower" than individual worksheets.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8530) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Protecting an Entire Workbook.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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