How to lock cells in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel logo on a green background

When you’re working on a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, locking cells is critical to protecting data, preventing errors, and more. Today, we’ll show you how to do that.

Why lock cells in a spreadsheet?

If you’re collaborating with others on a workbook, you may want to protect a cell by locking — especially if you want to make any changes or modifications later. Locked cells cannot be reformatted, changed, or deleted. Locking cells works in conjunction with protecting the workbook. To change data within cells, it must be unlocked, and the sheet must be unprotected.

Lock cells in an Excel spreadsheet

You can lock individual cells or multiple cells using this method. Here’s how to do it with multiple cells.

In a new or existing Microsoft Excel document, select the cell or range of cells you want to lock. The cells you selected appear slightly shaded, indicating that they will be locked.

In a new or existing Microsoft Excel document, select the cell or range of cells you want to lock.

On the Home tab on the ribbon, select Format.

In the "Homepage" tab on the ribbon, select "Formula" to open the format menu.

In the Format menu, select Lock Cell. Doing so will lock any of the cells you selected.

In the "Formula" menu, select "cell lock" To lock the cells you previously selected.

An alternative way to lock cells is to select your cells, then right-click on them to bring up a menu. In that menu, select “Format Cells”. In the Format Cells box, click the Protection tab.

In the "Format cells" square, go to "protection" tab and click on it.

On the Protection tab, click the checkbox that says “Closed” to enable cell locking. This performs exactly the same function as locking cells in the Format tab.

In the "protection" tab, click on the box labeled "locked" and click "Yes."

After that, your cells are locked. If you ever need to open it, do the above steps backwards. Once you are done locking your cells, you need to protect your workbook.

paper protection

After locking the cell, you will notice that it still allows you to change the text or delete the content. This is because in order for cells to work, you must also protect your sheet or workbook. Here’s how. On the Excel toolbar, click Review.

In the ribbon, tap "reconsidering."

In the ribbon under the Review tab, select Protect Sheet.

in the bar under "reconsidering" tab, click "protection paper."

In the Protect Sheet menu, you can create a password to protect the sheet and specify a number of different parameters. For now, check the box marked “Protect worksheet and locked cell contents”. Make any other adjustments you wish and click OK to protect the sheet.

In the "protection paper" menu, select "Protect worksheet and locked cell contents," Then create a password and click "Yes."

Among other options in the menu, you can prevent other users from deleting/inserting rows and columns, changing the layout, or generally tampering with the document by clicking on them in the Protection menu. Once the sheet is fully protected, no one can access the locked cells without using a password to unlock them first.

If you need to unlock the worksheet later, revisit Checklist > Protect Sheet and uncheck “Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells”. Now that you know how to lock cells, you can sleep safely knowing that your spreadsheets and workbooks won’t be changed without unlocking first. Happy lock!

Related: How to protect workbooks, worksheets, and cells from editing in Microsoft Excel

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