How to Remove Excel Sheet Protection

You have been trying to open and / or modify that Excel sheet that your work colleague sent you for several hours now, but all attempts have not been successful. The file, in fact, continues to be inaccessible and Excel keeps telling you that the password you type to open it is not valid. Under the circumstances, I would like to give you a small but very precious suggestion, before you can finally throw in the towel: try remove protection from the Excel sheet.

How do you say? Have you already thought about it but don't have the faintest idea how to do it? Well, fear not… you can count on me! In the following lines, I will go to show you all the possible solutions to succeed in the enterprise. Before you can get alarmed, however, I want to reassure you immediately on the fact that, contrary to appearances and beyond what you may think, to carry out the operation covered by this tutorial it is not absolutely necessary to be a "geek", just resort to the right tools (the ones I will recommend to you shortly) and / or ad hoc "tricks". Unfortunately, I cannot give you absolute certainty that the operation will actually be successful (it depends on the complexity of the password and other variables that I will explain to you) but, as they say, trying doesn't hurt.

Then? May I know what are you still doing standing there? Position yourself comfortably in front of your trusted computer and immediately start concentrating on reading the information contained in this article. Ah, just one last important clarification: "unprotect" Excel files is an operation at the limit of the lawful, so, please, put it into practice only on documents that you are authorized to modify and only 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!

Programs to Remove Protection from an Excel Sheet

First of all, let's try to understand what are the tools, or rather the programs, which you can rely on to try to eliminate the password from an Excel file and meet your needs. Therefore, you will find listed below those that in my opinion constitute the most reliable in the category. Put them to the test now!

FREE Word and Excel Password Recovery Wizard (Windows)

If you need remove protection from an Excel sheet which is protected against unauthorized access, that is to say that it presents a password when opening, I suggest you use FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard: it is a free program used precisely for the purpose in question, very simple to use and for Windows systems only.

The only things to be aware of is that it cannot recover passwords longer than 8 characters and that allows you to act only and exclusively on spreadsheets made with editions of Office prior to 2007, therefore, those in XLS format. XLSX files, i.e. those that can be generated with the most recent versions of Excel, on the other hand, use an encryption technology that involves the use of 128-bit AES keys and which would be practically impossible to unlock with the attack systems of the passwords supported by this program. In this case, the procedure, assuming that it is successful, could take several days, if not years (yes, years, you got it right!).

That said, let's take action. To use the FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard, connect to the program's website and click on the link Download FREE Word and Excel password recovery Wizard x.x.xx (x.x Mb), in order to download it to your computer.

When the download is complete, extract theZIP archive just got it, double-click the file .exe inside and, in the window that opens, click on the button Si to start the installation procedure.

Successively, pigia sul pulsating Next, check the box next to the item I accept the agreement and then click on the button again Next four consecutive times. Then finish the setup by clicking on the buttons installFinish.

Now, wait a few moments for the program window to be visible on the screen, then press the buttons NextKATEGORIEN and select the spreadsheet to unlock. Click the button again Next four consecutive times and start the password search by pressing the button Go. When (and if) the password is found, it will be shown to you in a specific window.

And 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 try to locate the secret word also by going to the section Select Approach. Click on the button Brute Force Attack, to select the English dictionary file to be used by the program, and start the password recovery procedure by clicking on the buttons NextGo.

Passware Excel Key (Windows)

As an alternative to the software I suggested in the previous lines, you can consider using Passware Exel Key: this is another program used for the purpose of this tutorial, only for Windows systems and which supports various types of attacks to unlock files. It is paid (the full version costs $ 39, the unlocking of individual files costs $ 19 instead) but you can also use it in the demo version, free, with which you can only find the first three letters of passwords. Also, each attack made lasts a maximum 1 minute. Note that, unlike the program I told you about in the previous step, this is also able to intervene on files created with Office suite after the 2007 version.

To use it on your computer, connect to the program's website and click on the button Download Free Demo that you find in the center of the screen, in order to start the software download procedure. Once the download is complete, double-click on it to start the file .exe obtained and click the button Next in the window that opens on the desktop. Check the box next to the item I accept the terms in the License Agrement and click to lock your button Next twice in a row, then on that install and, finally, presses on the buttons Si e Finish.

Now that you see the main window of the program on the desktop, press the button Browse for file which is on the right and select the Excel file in relation to which you are interested in going to act.

Then choose, by clicking the relevant buttons on the screen, whether to use the default settings for password detection (Use Predefined Settings) or whether to start the wizard for choosing the correct attack method and the dictionaries to use (Run Wizard), then wait for the process of identifying the secret word to be completed.

When (and if) the password is identified, it will be reported to you on the screen, you will be shown the first three letters of the same and, in order to view it in its entirety, you can choose whether to unlock the single view or whether to proceed with the purchase. of the full software license.

Other Solutions to Unprotect an Excel XLSX Sheet

If what you intend to unlock is an Excel sheet in XLSX, i.e. a file created with a version of Office later than 2007, you can try other solutions to succeed in your intent. It is more about "tricks": the first is to use one script for the release of documents, the second provides for the use of compressed archives in ZIP. For more information, please read on.


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 deal with this using a simple script. Keep in mind that this procedure only works with documents created with Office 2010 and earlier, not with those generated using the latest versions of Microsoft's productivity suite.

Proceed, therefore, by opening normally with Excel the worksheet you intend to act on and call the editor of Visual Basic, premendo the combination of tasti Alt + F11 on your computer keyboard (alt + fn + f11 if you have a Mac). In the window that opens, double-click on thespreadsheet icon present in the left sidebar (eg. Sheet1, on mac it might be in the folder Microsoft Excel objects) and then paste the following script.

Sub PasswordBreaker()
'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)
Exit Sub
End If
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
End Sub

Now, click on the icon play at the top or press F5 on your computer keyboard and wait for the confirmation message about unlocking the document to appear. After that, you will be able to freely edit the file and save the changes made to it.

Extension Change

Another method you have on your side to be able to unprotect an Excel sheet is to rename the file extension to .zip and open it with the program for the decompression of archives “Standard” of Windows and macOS or by using specific third-party software for this purpose. The technique in question, but keep in mind, only works with Excel spreadsheets in XLSX format.

To rename the file, regardless of whether you are using Windows o MacOS, just right-click on it and choose the item from the context menu that will open Rhinomine. At this point, the file name will be highlighted and you can change its extension by selecting the part of the file starting from the point, that is . Xlsx, and replacing it with .zip.

When the changes are complete, press the button Submit on the keyboard and click on Si (on Windows) or on Use .zip (on MacOS). If the extension is not visible in the filename, read my article on how to rename file extension to find out how to deal with it.

Subsequently, as I told you, you can open the modified XLSX file in ZIP by right clicking on it and selecting, from the context menu, the option Extract everything (on Windows) or apri (on MacOS). If, on the other hand, you prefer to turn to third-party programs, read my guide on how to open ZIP files to find out immediately which are the best special software you can use.

Once the archive is extracted, edit the file xlworkbook.xml deleting the line in which the wording is found workbookProtection from the latter and you should finally be able to access the Excel spreadsheet. If the file to be unlocked is made up of several sheets, to obtain the same result, you must go to xlworksheets, select each of the sheets (ex. sheet1.xml, sheet2.xml etc.) and change the value sheetProtection sheet=”xx” in sheetProtection sheet=””.