Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Using a Protected Worksheet.

Using a Protected Worksheet

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 8, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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When you or another user is working in a protected worksheet, there is nothing that immediately draws attention to the fact that any protection is in place. Instead, you can look through a worksheet and see any information it contains. You can also see the cell contents (including formulas) of any cell whose contents were not explicitly hidden.

Differences start to show up when using the tools that Excel makes available on the various ribbon tabs. If a worksheet is protected, certain tools are no longer available. For instance, the cells, columns, or rows in the worksheet cannot be modified or deleted.

The biggest usage differences are evident when you try to change the contents of any cells which are locked. In this instance, Excel displays a dialog box indicating that the worksheet cannot be changed without first unlocking it. If the user still wants to make changes, he or she has no choice at that point other than unlocking the worksheet, if possible.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10282) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Using a Protected Worksheet.

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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What is two less than 9?

2022-03-13 14:57:33

J. Woolley

My Excel Toolbox includes the following function to return the protection status (TRUE/FALSE) of a Target cell's worksheet or workbook:
=IsProtected([Choice],[Target])
Choice for a worksheet is Contents (default), Shapes, Interface, or Scenarios
and Choice for a workbook is Sheets (structure) or Windows.
Target's default is the formula's cell.
My Excel Toolbox also includes the following dynamic array function to return the status of the 12 protection options for the formula cell's worksheet:
=ListProtectionOptions()
In older versions of Excel you can use it with the SpillArray function like this:
=SpillArray(ListProtectionOptions())
See https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox/


2022-03-12 17:31:59

John Mann

I use sheet protection extensively to prevent myself from inadvertently chnaging something which shouldn't be changed. I also use if for another purpose - to skip over locked cells when moving around and entering data. Typically the locked cells contain formulae referencing unlocked cells, or might contain title or label information which should also be protected.

When protecting a worksheet, a dialogue box appears with a whole list of things which the user can be permited to do. The top two items in the list are "Select Locked Cells", and "Select unlocked cells". I always enable the second, but disable to first. By not enabling the user to Select locked cells, tab, enter, arrow keys, etc skip over the locked cells and therefore one of the consequences is that the formula bar won't display to contents of the locked cell.

I make so much use of protecting and unprotecting worksheets that I've added the command to my QUAT.


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