Protect an Excel file

You can protect your Excel files with a password. In effect, this stops others from gaining wrongful entry into your file. 

Applies to:

Excel for Office 365 & Mac,



2019 for Mac,



2007 & 2016 for Mac.

Note: This topic covers file-level protection only. This is different from workbook or worksheet protection. See Protection and security in Excel to learn the difference between these individual elements.

  1. Select File > Info.
  2. Select the Protect Workbook box. Then, choose Encrypt with Password.
  3. Enter a password in the Password box. Next, select OK.
  4. Confirm the password in the Reenter Password box. Then, select OK.


  • Microsoft cannot retrieve forgotten passwords. Thus, choose a password that is easy to remember.
  • Also, there are no bounds to the passwords you use. This means their length, characters or numbers. However, passwords are case-sensitive.
  • Despite this, it’s sometimes less safe to share password-protected files with sensitive information.
  • These include credit card numbers and National Insurance numbers.
  • Be careful when sharing files or passwords with other users. You still run the risk of passwords soon falling into the wrong hands.
  • Remember that locking a file with a password does not necessarily protect your file from wrongful intent.

Need more help?

Look at these resources in relation to protect Excel files.

Firstly, you can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community;

In addition, get support in the Answers community; or

Finally, suggest a new feature/improvement on Excel User Voice.

See Also

Protect a workbook

Protect a worksheet

Protection and security in Excel

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