Have you been asked to edit an Excel file that you created a long time ago and can't remember the password needed to open it? Did your colleague pass you a change-protected spreadsheet and forgot to give you the password to unlock it? If that's the case… don't despair: maybe I can help you by explaining how to do it remove Excel password.
In fact, through some special "Tricks" and resorting to the use of programs ad hoc it is possible to remove Excel passwords and modify documents that would otherwise be blocked or even impossible to open. Of course this is an operation at the limit of the lawful, so, please, put it into practice only on the spreadsheets that you are authorized to modify and in cases of real emergency. I do not take any responsibility for the improper use that you can make of the indications I am about to give you.
It should also be noted that not all Excel sheets are the same and not all passwords can be bypassed in the same way. Let's say that there are some files that are almost impossible to "pierce", but let's proceed one step at a time and see how to access the most "vulnerable" spreadsheets.
Having clarified this fundamental aspect of the question, if you are therefore actually interested in finding out what needs to be done in order to remove Excel passwords, I suggest you take a few minutes of free time, sit down at your computer and concentrate on reading this guide. I am more than sure that in the end you will succeed in the enterprise and that at the first good opportunity you will also be willing to explain to your friends in need of a similar tip how to proceed. So, are you ready? Yes? Very well, let's ban the chatter and immediately start getting busy.
Tricks to Remove Excel Password
If you have an Excel document that can be viewed but not edited, i.e. that does not require a password to open but has one or more locked worksheets, you can bypass the obstacle using a simple script. The procedure works with documents created with Office 2010 and earlier but not with those created using the most recent versions of the Microsoft suite.
To unlock a worksheet protected against modification, open it normally with Excel and invoke the Visual Basic editor by pressing the key combination Alt + F11 on your computer keyboard. In the window that opens, double click on the spreadsheet icon in the left sidebar (eg. Sheet1) and paste the following script in the white box that appears.
'Breaks worksheet password protection.
Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer
Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer
Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer
Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer
On Error Resume Next
For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66
For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66
For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66
For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126
ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _
Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _
Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
MsgBox "One usable password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _
Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _
Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
At this point, click on the icon play at the top (or press F5 on the keyboard) and wait for the confirmation message regarding the unlocking of the document to appear (eg. One usabile password is XX). Once the processing is done, you will be able to freely edit your Excel document and save all changes made in it.
Another way to bypass passwords that prevent spreadsheet editing, for XLSX format files only, is to rename them by changing their extension to .zip, open them with a software for the management of compressed archives (eg. 7-Zip) and edit the file xlworkbook.xml deleting the line in which the wording is found workbookProtection da quest'ultimo.
If the file to be unlocked consists of multiple sheets, to obtain the same result, after renaming the document to .zip and having extracted the contents, you need to go to xlworksheets, select each of the sheets (ex. sheet1.xml, sheet2.xml etc.) and change the value sheetProtection sheet=”xx” in sheetProtection sheet=””.
In both cases, once you have completed the procedure by which to remove Excel password you should finally be able to freely modify the spreadsheet in question and save the changes made to it.
Programs to Remove Excel Passwords
If you need to remove Excel passwords for a document that is protected against unauthorized access, i.e. that has a password when being opened, the game gets a hell of a lot harder. Difficult, but not entirely impossible. If the file you want to unlock was saved in the old XLS format (that of Office versions prior to 2007), there is a good chance that you will be able to do this using programs such as FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard.
If you have never heard of it, FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard is a free software for Windows that allows you to recover the password protection of Word and Excel files created with Office editions prior to 2007 (or in any case saved in the old file formats), does not work with XLSX spreadsheets.
To download it to your PC, click here to connect to its official website and then presses the link Download FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard 2.1.15 (1.4 Mb) attached to the web page that is shown to you and wait for the software download procedure to be started and completed.
When the download is complete, go to the folder where the downloaded ZIP file was saved, select it, press it with the right mouse button and choose the item Extract all ... from the menu that is shown to you. Then click on the button Extract. Complete the extraction procedure by double clicking on the file setup attached to the new window displayed on the screen to start the program installation procedure.
So first press on Si and then Next, put the check mark next to the item I accept the agreement and then click the button again Next four consecutive times. Then press the button install and to conclude on Finish.
At this point, wait a few moments for the program window to be visible on the screen and then press the button Next located at the bottom right. Then click on the button KATEGORIEN and select the spreadsheet to unlock, click again then on Next four consecutive times and finally start the password search by pressing on Go.
After carrying out all these steps, a window should open within a few seconds with the password needed to remove protection from the Excel sheet.
If you are sure that the password of the Excel file you intend to unlock is made up of meaningful words in English, you can also find the keyword by going to the section Select Approach. Click Quindi Sul Pulsating Brute Force Attack to select the English dictionary file to be used by the program and then start the password recovery procedure by first clicking on Next and then Go.
Even in this case, once you have completed all the procedure by which to remove Excel passwords you should be able to view and edit the spreadsheet without problems.
If, on the other hand, you are dealing with XLSX files protected against unauthorized access, I'm sorry but there is very little you can do. Documents of this type are protected with 128-bit AES encryption that takes a long time to be attacked using the brute force technique (the one that tries all possible combinations of characters until the exact password is found).
In practice, finding a password of this type with a common home PC could take days and days (if not months or years!). The only sensible attempt is to use commercial software such as Parallel Password Recovery which offer functions such as distributed computing (in order to divide the effort of searching for the password on several PCs on the network or on the Internet) and allow you to use the power of the video card to “crack” the Office files.
Parallel Password Recovery is paid but is available in a free trial version that allows you to discover passwords that have a maximum length of 5 characters.
The operation of the program is based on several definition files (which you must select from the software installation folder) which may contain terms to carry out a dictionary attack or character sets to attempt a brute force attack.
Salvatore Aranzulla is the most widely read blogger and IT popularizer in Italy. Known for discovering vulnerabilities on Google and Microsoft sites. He collaborates with computer magazines and edited the technological column of the newspaper Il Messaggero. He is the founder of Aranzulla.it, one of the thirty most visited sites in Italy, in which he easily answers thousands of computer-related doubts. He has published for Mondadori and Mondadori Informatica.