How to protect or unprotect cells in a worksheet

In a previous post we talked about how to protect worksheet elements. When you protect a worksheet, by default all its cells will be locked.

If you want to protect or unprotect some cells selectively then do the following:

  1. Select the cells you want to protect / unprotect.
  2. In the main menu click Format.
  3. Click Cells. The Format Cells window will open.
  4. Click the Protection Tab.
  5. Select the Locked check box to protect the cell or clear the check box to unprotect it.


In the Protect tab there is a checkbox named Hidden. This checkbox is applicable for cells with formulas.

Select this checkbox to hide formulas from appearing in the formula bar.


  1. If the Cells command is dimmed when you are trying to protect cells, then parts of the worksheet may already been locked.

Click Tools —> Protection —> Unprotect Sheet.

  1. When you are done, and in order for your cells to be locked then you must protect the worksheet again through the Tools menu.

How to protect Worksheet elements

To prevent unauthorized users from performing certain worksheet tasks, like formatting cells, deleting rows or inserting rows, follow these steps:

  1. Switch to the worksheet you want to protect.
  1. On the Tools menu, point to Protection, and then click Protect Sheet.
  2. Type a password for the sheet. Then reconfirm the password when asked for that.
  3. In the list: Allow all users of this worksheet to , check the elements which you want the users to have access to. All unchecked items will be protected.



You can protect the worksheet without entering a password, but in this case anyone can unprotect it. This is only useful if you want to avoid the worksheet being modified accidentally.

Related Links:

How to protect a workbook with a password

Applies to: Excel 2003