When You Protect a Workbook Which Feature Becomes Blocked?

So you got your Excel workbook protected already.

What does this mean for you and other users? 🤔

Well, it’s definitely not the end.

There are still a lot of things you can do when your Excel workbooks are protected 👍

Learn more so that you can continue working in Excel while protecting data and maintaining the integrity of your Excel file 😊

Default protection: What you can do

Microsoft offers you three different levels of protection for your Excel files: 🔒

  • Worksheet-level protection – protect cells, ranges, and formulas in the Excel worksheet and control how a user can work within a worksheet
  • Workbook-level protection – protect the Excel workbook structure to prevent other users from adding, moving, deleting, hiding, and renaming worksheets
  • File-level protection – protect your Excel file by specifying a password so that other users can’t open or modify it

You can use one or more levels of protection for your Excel data depending on your personal or your organization’s needs.

But we’re not here to discuss how you protect Excel workbooks on different levels.

We’ll focus on what you CAN do when your Excel files are protected on a worksheet level 😀

Take note that worksheet-level protection is not intended as a security feature. This only prevents users from modifying locked cells within the worksheet.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Worksheet-level protection protects specific cells in the worksheet so that none of the important data in it are affected.

This level of protection allows you to open the Excel file, select sheets, and select cells by default ✅

You can select all the cells in the worksheet–both protected and unprotected cells.

You can edit data or enter new data into unprotected cells.

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You can also cut or copy data from the Excel sheet. Then paste them on certain cells that are not locked.

You can insert Comments on both protected and unprotected cells. Like this 👇

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When you click on the other worksheets in your Excel workbook, you can select cells in those sheets too.

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The author (you) of the Excel file controls what other users can perform in the Excel sheet.

You can allow other users to insert or delete rows and columns. Or only allow them to Sort or use AutoFilter.

This entirely depends on what the author allows others to do.

Default protection: What you can not do

Once Excel workbook protection is enabled, there are some things you CAN’T do in it.

If you protected the sheets, the locked cells in that worksheet cannot be edited.

When you try to edit it, Microsoft Excel sends you this message: ⚠️

“The cell or chart you’re trying to change is on a protected sheet. To make a change, unprotect the sheet. You might be requested to enter a password.”

04 - to unprotect sheet: enter a password

When you right-click on any of the cells, you’ll see features that are unavailable by default.

This means that you CAN’T…

  • Insert cells, rows, or columns
  • Delete cells, rows, or columns
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  • Do Quick Analysis
  • Filter
  • Sort
  • Get Data from Table/Range
  • Format cells
  • Define Name
  • Insert Link
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If you and other users can’t move, add, rename, or delete worksheets in an Excel workbook you’re working on, this means that the Excel workbook is protected on a workbook level 🔒

In this case, you can view and add data in worksheets but you CAN’T change the workbook structure.

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There may seem a lot that you CAN’T do in Excel when it’s protected 😩

Well, of course! Protecting your data and maintaining the integrity of your Excel files are the main objectives.

But how are you supposed to continue working in Excel while doing that?

Don’t worry! Microsoft Excel allows you to control how users should work with worksheets in your Excel workbook.

Select what the user can do after protection is enabled

In worksheet-level protection, you select what the user is allowed to do within an Excel worksheet 😀

You can specify which features and functions they can and can’t do in it. For example, you can allow them to only enter data or insert hyperlinks but not format cells or insert rows and columns.

To do that, you must know that worksheet protection is a two-step process.

First, make sure that you locked the specific cells you want to be protected in your worksheet. You can click here for a step-by-step guide.

Now that you’ve locked the cells, it’s time for the second step.

  1. Go to the Review Tab.
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  1. Click Protect Sheet in the Protect group in the Review Tab.
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The Protect Sheet dialog box will appear.

You have the option to password-protect the worksheet. This gives you a layer of protection.

You’ll see the default protection as well: select locked and unlocked cells.

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  1. Now, select other features and functions that you would like to allow users to do by ticking the checkbox on their left side.
  2. Click OK.
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That’s it 🙌

All these checked features and functions are now allowed when you’re working with Excel worksheets.

This means that users including you, can now format cells, insert hyperlinks, Sort data, use AutoFilter, and Edit Objects within your worksheet, other than the default cell selection 😀

When you right-click on the cells, you’ll see the features you’ve selected are now available.

If you want to change the features and function, you can always click the unprotect sheet button and select other features you want.

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Increase sheet protection with password protection. By enabling this, you prevent users from changing the settings applied within the sheets.

Whenever a user tries to unprotect the sheet, the user will be prompted to enter a password.

However, never assume that just because you protect a worksheet with a password that it is already secure. Think twice before distributing any Excel workbooks that could contain sensitive personal information.

That’s it – Now what?

It is now clear what you CAN and CAN’T do when your Excel workbook is protected.

Now, you can continue working in Excel without sacrificing data protection and the integrity of your Excel files 👍

There are still a lot of things Excel CAN do for you, but only when you are willing to.

You can start by learning Excel functions that actually help you get work done easier and faster. For starters, I recommend you learn about the IF, SUMIF, and VLOOKUP functions.

You can spend as much time searching for articles available on the internet to learn about them by yourself 😩

Or you can learn it FAST, EASY, and FREE when you sign up for my 30-minute email course 😊

Other resources

Want to learn more about how you can protect your Excel files at different levels? Read our Excel Protection Tutorial for an in-depth lesson.

There are still a lot of things you can do in your Excel worksheet.

Learn how to insert rows, insert columns, insert pictures, or special characters with our high-quality Excel guides.