How to Encrypt an Excel File

Encrypt Excel File

Microsoft Excel is a fabulous spreadsheet program which is widely used for data management. As such, it is also used to store, organize, and track extremely sensitive information for both business and personal use. Therefore, it is also within many interests to ensure that the file is protected. A good way to do that is to encrypt it.

Ensure that the chosen password is strong and unique to only that file in order to keep it safe. While there may be other, stronger means to encrypt an Excel file, they require outside programs to do and then open the file and are not always guaranteed to not corrupt the file. If choosing to use any of those methods, be sure to exercise caution. Keep reading to learn more about encrypting an Excel file.

How to Encrypt a Microsoft Excel Workbook

Encrypting the entire workbook for a Microsoft Excel file is extremely easy and built right into the program itself. This will then only allow the file to be opened if the correct password has been entered, making it valuable for protecting sensitive information.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to encrypt the entire Excel workbook:

1. Open the file in Excel

2. Click File from the top toolbar:

Excel File Menu

3. Click Info on the lefthand side:

Excel Encrypt File

4. Click Protect Workbook and then Encrypt with Password:

Encrypt Excel File

5. Enter your desired password and click ok:

Encrypt Excel File

6. Save the file as you normally would. That is all there is to it. This will then require a password every time the entire file is opened in order to view or edit, adding an extra layer of security for sensitive information.

How to Encrypt Only a Single Sheet in Microsoft Excel

On top of being able to encrypt the whole file with a password, it is also possible to encrypt only a single sheet out of the entire workbook. This is especially useful when sharing the whole document with a variety of people in different positions, each of which only need a certain page.

Here is how to encrypt only a single sheet in Microsoft Excel:

1. Right-click the sheet name down at the bottom of the workbook:
Excel Encrypt Worksheet

2. Click Protect Sheet from the popup menu:

Excel Encrypt Worksheet

3. Enter the desired password into the box and click ok:

Excel Encrypt Worksheet

This can be done to every page individually, not just one page. This will make it so that a password is needed to view only that page of the spreadsheet, not the whole workbook. Additionally, this can work in tandem with encrypting the entire file and therefore requiring multiple passwords in order to access information.

How to Decrypt a Microsoft Excel File

Knowing how to encrypt an Excel file is only half of the battle. Eventually, there may be a need to take that encryption off of the workbook. Perhaps the password is no longer needed, or the file is going into an archive where files are protected another way. Regardless of the reasoning, it is useful to know how to undo an encryption just in case.

Here is how to decrypt an Excel file:

1. Open the protected file in Excel

2. Enter the password at the prompt:

Excel Decrypt

This works only if the password is known. If the password is unknown or forgotten, there are tools available around the internet. However, these can get the users in quite a bit of trouble if used unauthorized or can even cause the file itself to be corrupted. Exercise caution when using such external software.

Final Thoughts

Encrypting a Microsoft Excel workbook is exceptionally simple and built right into the program itself. It allows a password to be added right onto the workbook or even individual sheets in order to add another layer or two of protection to the file. 

While there are more options out there on the internet, it is important to exercise caution when utilizing any of these programs, especially from unknown sources. These could cause corruption of the file or land the user into legal troubles if used without permission from the sheet’s owner.

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