How to ☝️ Protect Cells Without Protecting the Entire Sheet in Excel

To protect particular cells in an Excel document without protecting the entire sheet, select cells you need to protect, go to the Home tab, click on the Format option, choose Format cells, select Protection, check the Locked option, and click OK

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step guide to avoid missing anything important in this process!

Methods to Protect Cells Without Protecting the Entire Sheet in Excel

Before using one of the methods below, be sure to unlock all cells in the worksheet. Here’s how to do that.

1. Select all cells by clicking on the little triangle in the upper left corner of the spreadsheet.

2. Go to the Home tab.

3. Pick the Format option.

4. Click on Format cells.

Format cells

5. Choose Protection.

6. Uncheck the Locked option.

7. Click OK.

Protection

Now we can move on to locking certain cells!

Method 1: Using the Format Option

Difficulty: Beginner
Time Estimate: 1 minute

1. Highlight all the cells you need to lock.

2. Navigate to the Home tab.

3. Click on the Format option.

4. Choose Format cells.

Using the Format Option

5. Click on the Protection tab.

6. Check the Locked option.

7. Click OK.

Protection

Once you protect your worksheet, your locked cells will be protected from editing. Let’s give it a try to see how it works.

1. Click on the Home tab on the menu.

2. Choose the Format option.

3. Select Protect Sheet.

Protect Sheet

4. Type a password to protect the sheet.

5. Click OK.

6. Reenter the password to proceed.

7. Click OK once more.

Password

There you go! If you attempt to change the data in these cells, the following warning will appear on the screen: 

Warning

This means access to those cells is locked. You can remove the block when you unprotect the worksheet.

Method 2: Using “Allow Users to Edit Ranges”

Difficulty: Beginner
Time Estimate: 1 minute

1. Navigate to the Review tab.

2. Pick the Allow Users to Edit Ranges option.

3. Click New in the dialog box that appears.

Allow Users to Edit Ranges option

4. Add the range of cells to which you want to apply this.

5. Click OK

The Range of Cells

6. Click Apply.

7. Select the Protect Sheet button.

Protect Sheet button

8. Enter a password to protect the sheet.

9. Click OK.

10. Confirm password to proceed.

11. Click OK again.

Password Option

Now the cells are locked. Clicking on the locked cells displays the same warning from before. If you unprotect the sheet, that cell range will now be available for editing.

Warning

Method 3: Locking Formula Cells

Difficulty: Beginner
Time Estimate: 2 minutes

This method is intended for those who have applied formulas to their data and don’t want the formulas being deleted or overwritten by accident.

1. Navigate to the Home tab.

2. Click Find & Select.

3. Pick the Go To Special option.

Go To Special option

4. Select Formulas.

5. Click OK.

Formulas options

Now, all the cells with formulas applied to them are selected.

6. Select Format on the menu.

7. Pick Format cells.

Format cells Option

8. Click on the Protection tab.

9. Check the box next to the Locked option.

10. Click OK.

The Protection tab

11. Navigate to the Home tab.

12. Pick the Format option.

13. Select Protect Sheet.

Protect Sheet tab

14. Type a password to protect the sheet.

15. Click OK.

16. Reenter password.

17. Click OK again.

Password in Excel

If you try to change the data in these cells, the warning appears again. Now, even if a password is entered to unprotect the sheet, the formula cells will remain locked from editing.

Warning

Locked Cells in Excel FAQs

Read the following frequently asked questions to learn more about protecting cells on an Excel spreadsheet.

What does protecting a cell in Excel do?

If you lock a cell in Excel, it means that you are preventing others from making changes to that cell. Protecting a cell in Excel will protect the data from being edited or deleted. This is useful if you want to make sure that certain data is not accidentally changed or deleted.

What is the difference between a locked and unlocked cell in Excel?

A locked cell is a cell that cannot be edited. An unlocked cell is a cell that can be edited. You can lock or unlock cells in Excel by using the methods described above.

How do I unlock a cell?

To unlock a cell, start by selecting the cell you wish to unlock. Next, go to the Home tab and pick Format Cells from the drop-down menu.

Format Cells from the drop-down menu

Go to the Protection tab, uncheck the Locked box, and click OK.

The Protection

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Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith is an Excel and automation consultant with a passion for technology, data, AI, and machine learning. Daniel loves to learn about new technologies and how they can be applied to solve complex problems. He is also a big fan of productivity hacks and enjoys finding ways to automate tasks to make organizations more efficient.
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