Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Preventing Someone from Recreating a Protected Worksheet.

Preventing Someone from Recreating a Protected Worksheet

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 14, 2018)

Jack creates worksheets that he forwards to others in his group so they can input information, and then return the worksheet to him. He protects the worksheets, but has gotten burned a few times by users who have used copy and paste to recreate the worksheet in its entirety. Checking everything to make sure the returned worksheets are the originals is very time consuming, so Jack is looking for a way to remove the ability to copy and paste the worksheets.

Disabling copying and pasting is theoretically easy enough to do. All you need to do is use a short macro, like the following, in the ThisWorkbook object:

Private Sub Worksheet_Deactivate()
    If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = True Then
        Application.CutCopyMode = False
    End If
End Sub

Using this macro essentially clears the Clipboard every time someone deactivates the worksheet by selecting another worksheet or another application.

Of course, this offers only the most rudimentary of protection. A determined user can still copy the worksheet by using the mouse to right-click on the sheet name and then click Move or Copy, or they could disable macros when starting the workbook, and thereby disable your Clipboard-clearing routine.

Perhaps a better way is to look at how business is done in the organization. If you don't want people to copy the worksheet, tell them up front, and make sure they know that you won't accept any duplicates. There are very easy ways to check to see if what you get back is a duplicate. Here are a few of them:

  • Put a formula in a cell, then hide the cell contents during your protection process. If you get the worksheet back and unprotect the worksheet, and the formula is not there, the worksheet is a copy.
  • Protect the worksheet by using a password. If you cannot later unprotect the worksheet with the same password, you know that someone else copied the worksheet and used their own password.
  • Have your worksheet use hidden formulas to access data on a hidden worksheet. If the user copies the worksheet, the hidden worksheet isn't copied to the new workbook, so the formulas won't give the correct answers.
  • Insert a macro module in the workbook, and then protect the module. The module doesn't need to do anything, but if the workbook you get back doesn't have the protected module or is a simple XLSX file, it is a copy.
  • Add something into the custom properties area of the workbook. If the custom property is not in the workbook you get back, chances are good that the workbook is not the original.

Another thing to try is to set the cell protection property to Hidden before password protecting your worksheet. Users can see the results of what is in the cells, but they cannot see the formulas. If they copy and paste the contents elsewhere, the formulas won't be transferred, only the results. This is very easy to spot in the returned workbook.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12653) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Preventing Someone from Recreating 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Moving Objects in Word 2007 without Snapping to the Grid

When you use the mouse to move objects around, they normally "snap" to the invisible grid that overlays your document. If ...

Discover More

Formatting Subtotal Rows

Excel automatically formats subtotals for you. But what if you want to change the default to something more suitable for ...

Discover More

Changing the Size of a Drawing Object

Add a drawing object to your worksheet, and at some point you may want to change that object's size. You can easily ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Using a Protected Worksheet

If you have a worksheet protected, it may not be immediately evident that it really is protected. This tip explains some ...

Discover More

Locking All Non-Empty Cells

Need to make sure that your worksheet is locked, with only the blank cells accessible to editing? You can do this easily ...

Discover More

Hiding and Protecting Columns

Want to hide certain columns within a worksheet so the contents are not visible to others? The answer lies in formatting ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 + 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.