How to Encrypt an Excel File

Millions of people all over the world including governments institutions, businesses, and regular consumers like you and I use Microsoft Excel to store and organize my data. It’s a great tool that can help you manage data in simple form like lists and makes complex calculations so easy. And at times I find myself looking for ways I can protect my sensitive data from unauthorized access. If you have sensitive data too in your Excel file, and have been looking for a way to keep it secure, in today’s article I will be highlighting step by step procedure you can encrypt your Excel file.

Most Excel versions have password protection feature that protects you data from prying eyes but if you want a better layer of security to your Excel files and workbooks you should consider using a good encryption software like Windows BitLocker or VeraCrypt. By password protecting an Excel file or workbook you control which users have access to the data and who is allowed to make changes.

Is there any difference between password protection and encryption? When you password protect a workbook or a sheet you are simply preventing users from changing the Excel workbook or sheet but the problem is that the users can still see the contents of the document. On the other hand, when you encrypt an Excel workbook, the users are required to enter the correct password to open the file. Thus, encryption is much better in that the users are unable to see the workbook contents without entering the right password.

If you have Microsoft Excel documents on your Mac or PC that you wouldn’t want other people to find and read the best way to keep that information safe is by password protecting your Excel files.

Read: How to encrypt a word document.

How to password protect and encrypt Excel files in Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016

  1. Open the Excel file or workbook you want to protect.
  2. Click the file tab.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. In the permissions section, click protect workbook.
  5. Select encrypt with password option.
  6. In the password dialogue box, type a password, then click OK.
  7. Type the password again, then click OK.
  8. Click save.

For Excel 2007 the process is relatively the same. You simply proceed by clicking the Microsoft Office button, point to prepare, then click encrypt document. The rest of the steps are the same as above. For newer versions of Excel the encryption options can be accessed on the review tab.

How to decrypt Excel files

  1. Open the encrypted file.
  2. You will be prompted to enter the password to open it.
  3. Go to file menu, click protect workbook.
  4. Choose encrypt with password option.
  5. Delete the password on the password field.
  6. Click OK.

Now that you know how to password protect all your workbooks, there are a few things you should definitely be aware of. For instance, you should know that anyone with the password to modify the workbook can also remove the password protection. Thus, it’s a good idea to keep the password in a safe place and share with others only when necessary. Secondly, password protection does not guarantee 100% security of your files.

With a good password cracking software anyone can easily find and unlock your sensitive data. Thus, I would recommend using a strong but simple to remember password when encrypting your Excel files. Finally, if by any chance you forget your password, it can be frustrating to you since Excel software itself does not have password recovery feature. However, there exist several password cracking tools like Excel password recovery software that will break your passphrase in seconds and have access to your workbook ready for use.

Microsoft Excel additional security options

Excel software comes packed with extra options to help you choose the best security for you projects. These options can be accessed under the protect document and can be useful in customizing security options to your files when necessary.

  • Mark as final. This marks the file as completed and lets other people know that they shouldn’t make any changes.
  • Protect current sheet. This guards the currently selected worksheet with a password so that people can’t make any changes.
  • Restrict access. This feature is mostly used by organizations utilizing customized security templates to lock Excel files to only certain people or ranks.
  • Add a digital signature. This verifies the file as the real version, making sure it hasn’t been altered while being sent to other people in an organization.

Excel password protection feature is great for providing a simple security to your workbooks and sheets. However, for your most sensitive data you should consider using proven encryption software tools that have better encryption techniques and that are hard to break.

There you have it. With just simple steps you can easily encrypt an Excel file in Windows and Mac and keep your information away from prying eyes. If any of the steps is unclear let me know in the comments below.

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