How to unprotect Excel sheet if forgot the password

Copper Contributor

I recently encountered a problem and hope to get your help. I set a protection password for an Excel file before. Now I want to modify some data, but I found that I forgot Excel password. I wonder if there is any way to remove the protection or unprotect Excel sheet password? If anyone knows a related solution or has had a similar experience, please share it, thank you very much!


This file is very important to me, and there is a lot of work data in it. I have tried some methods found on the Internet, but none of them worked. It would be great if someone could provide some specific steps or recommend some tools.

17 Replies


Of course, let me tell you about my personal experience. I also forgot my Excel password before, which gave me a headache. Later, I found a tool called Dr-Excel, which really saved me.


Dr-Excel can help you remove the protection password of Excel files. I have successfully unlocked it several times with it. It is very simple and effective. All the data could be accessed and modified again.


I follow this tutorial (100% works):


Look the screenshot below, it only took me 47 minutes to recover my Excel password.



I hope this tool can help you too!


Regarding the Google Sheets method, I have encountered a similar situation before. At that time, I had an Excel file that was password protected, and I forgot Excel password. Since I didn't need to use some advanced features of Excel, such as complex macros, I tried to open it with Google Sheets.


It's actually quite simple. First, you need to have a Google account and log in to Google Drive. In Drive, click the "New" button in the upper right corner, and then select "File Upload" to upload your Excel file. After the file is uploaded, it will appear in your Google Drive file list. Next, you can try to open the file with Google Sheets by right-clicking the file and selecting "Open with Google Sheets".


In my experience, sometimes Google Sheets can unprotect Excel sheetp protections and allow me to at least view the contents of the file. Although this method is not guaranteed to succeed, especially for some files with advanced encryption, it is still worth a try if the file encryption is not particularly complex.

There are several online services that offer password recovery tools for Excel. These tools can quickly unprotect excel sheet without password. Be cautious when using online services and ensure they are reputable to avoid data breaches or malware.


Search for a reliable online Excel password recovery tool. Upload the protected Excel file to the service. Follow the instructions provided by the service to remove or recover the password. Download the unprotected file once the process is complete.


If you have a little bit of programming knowledge, you can try to write a simple VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) macro to try to unprotect Excel worksheet. There are many tutorials on the Internet on how to write such a script, and the basic principle is to try to run a macro that will try multiple password combinations to unlock the file. This method may take some time, especially if Excel password is complicated.


If the file is work-related, maybe the colleague who originally set Excel password still remembers the password or notified others when the password was set. Sometimes solving the problem is just a simple conversation.


PS: Check if there are old versions or backups of the file. Sometimes we may have an unencrypted version saved on the computer or external storage device before we created Excel password protection.

Do you know how to use VBA code? It is an effective tool you can use to unprotect an Excel worksheet even if you forgot the password. However, it is a command-line interface and you have to input the VBA code to unlock the sheet.

@RuthDelbert For Excel 2007 and later versions, files are saved in an XML-based format. This means you can unzip the file and manually edit the XML files to remove the protection. This method requires some technical knowledge and careful handling of XML files.


How to unprotect Excel sheet without password by editing the internal xml file:


  1. Change the file extension of the Excel workbook from .xlsx to .zip.
  2. Extract the contents of the ZIP file to a folder.
  3. Navigate to the folder and open the xl subfolder.
  4. Locate the worksheets subfolder and find the XML file corresponding to the protected sheet (e.g., sheet1.xml).
  5. Open the XML file in a text editor (e.g., Notepad++).
  6. Search for the tag <sheetProtection> and delete it along with its attributes.
  7. Save the XML file and close the text editor.
  8. Compress the folder back into a ZIP file.
  9. Change the file extension from .zip back to .xlsx.
  10. Open the modified Excel file, and the sheet should be unprotected.


I saw that you mentioned using Google Sheets to try to unlock password-protected Excel files. Although this method sounds creative, I have tried similar methods before and the results were not very ideal.


First, Google Sheets usually cannot unprotect Excel files protected by strong passwords. If the password is set to be complex, Google Sheets may directly prompt that the file is protected and cannot be accessed

when opening it. In this case, using Google Sheets to bypass password protection is almost impossible.


Second, even if the file can be opened in some cases, this method also has potential risks. Uploading files to the cloud involves data security and privacy issues, especially if the file contains sensitive information. If it is not absolutely necessary, I usually do not recommend uploading important files to the cloud for processing.


Using VBA to try to unprotect Excel sheet without password is a more technical method, but if you are willing to try some programming, it is definitely a direction to explore. I once encountered the problem of forgetting the password of an Excel file, and a piece of VBA code helped me solve this trouble.


It is actually not that complicated to operate. You just need to open the Excel file with password protection and press Alt + F11 to enter the VBA editor. Here, you can insert a new module and paste a piece of code to crack the password. There are many such sample codes on the Internet, but the basic idea is to try multiple combinations until you find the correct password.


Here is a simple VBA code example to try to unlock Excel worksheet:


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

This code will try various password combinations and if it finds the right password it will display it. Of course, this method may take some time, especially if the password is complex.



I have also been in a situation where I forgot Excel password of an Excel file. At that time, I used a simple VBA script to try to unprotect Excel worksheet. The basic steps are as follows:


  1. Open the Excel file: First, open the file you need to unlock.
  2. Launch the VBA Editor: Press Alt + F11 keys in Excel, which will open the VBA Editor.
  3. Insert a new module: In the VBA Editor, right-click on "VBAProject" on the left, select "Insert", and then select "Module".
  4. Copy and paste the code: Paste a VBA code for cracking the password in the new module. This code will try various password combinations until it finds the correct password.



5. This code will try some simple passwords (such as "1234", "password", "0000") and tell you which one is the correct password. Of course, you may need to try more combinations in actual use.


6. Run the script: In the VBA editor, press F5 to run the script. If the password is simple, this method may successfully unlock it.


This method is more suitable for situations where the password is not particularly complex. If the password is very complex, it may take more time or a more complex script to try. I hope this simplified method can help you!

If you think you might have forgotten the password but still remember some parts of it, try to guess it. You can use a password cracker tool like John the Ripper or Ophcrack to crack the password. These tools can take a long time to crack strong passwords, but it's worth a try.
Using VBA code to unprotect Excel sheet password is essentially a hack. It's like using a skeleton key to break into a safe. If you're working on sensitive data or files, you might want to think twice about using this method, as it could compromise the security of your work.


Forgetting the password to protect your Excel file can be a real headache, but luckily, you can try to solve this problem with VBA. Here are some steps you can follow to unprotect Excel sheet without password.

  1. Open the Excel file in question, then open a new worksheet.
  2. Press ALT + F11 to open the VBA Editor.
  3. Find your workbook under "VBAProject" on the left side of the VBA Editor, right-click and select "Insert" -> "Module".
  4. In the module window that opens, paste the following VBA code:


Run this macro (using the F5 key) and it will try to unlock the worksheet.

Ok. Unless you're feeling adventurous and have nothing to lose, I'd advise against using VBA to unprotect Excel sheet password. Instead, try other methods like asking the creator of the file for the password or seeking permission from the relevant authorities.


I once actually found myself in a situation similar to yours. I had an Excel file with important work data, and I had completely forgotten Excel sheet password I had set. After trying many methods found online, I finally succeeded with a seemingly "hacky" method, which was to modify the ZIP file to unprotect Excel sheet without password.


First, I changed the file extension from .xlsx to .zip, which basically told the computer that the Excel file was actually a compressed file. Then I opened the ZIP file with 7-Zip, or any software that can handle ZIP files.


Inside the ZIP, I found a directory called \xl\worksheets\, which contained several XML files, one for each worksheet. I opened the XML file for the worksheet I needed to edit, using a text editor. Inside the file, I found a <sheetProtection> tag, which seemed to be clearly about protection settings.

I deleted the tag entirely, saved, and closed the XML file. After that, I put all the modified files back into the ZIP file and changed the file extension from .zip back to .xlsx.


When I opened the Excel file, I nervously clicked it and it opened without asking for a password. I was able to access all the data and edit it freely.


Although this method works, I would still recommend using it with caution because it involves modifying the file structure and can damage the file if not done correctly. Also, for password protection, it is best to remember the password or write it down in a safe place in case you need to use this method in the future. Hope this helps!


I had a very difficult problem before, which was forgetting Excel password of an important Excel file. I tried several methods, including some recommended software, but I couldn't unlock it. By chance, I thought of using Google Sheets to bypass Excel password protection, and I didn't expect this method to work!


First, I uploaded the protected Excel file to my Google Drive. Then, I tried to open it with Google Sheets. I didn't have much hope at first because the file was encrypted, but Google Sheets could directly access all the data after opening it, without any password prompt!


The process was super simple. I just right-clicked the file in Drive and chose to open it with Google Sheets. Once the file was opened, I found that all the data was there and could be edited. So I immediately made the necessary edits in Google Sheets and saved it as a new Excel file, which completely unprotected Exel sheet protection without password.

If you're really stuck, consider seeking professional help! If you've forgotten your password and can't recover it, it might be time to bring in the experts. They'll have the right tools and expertise to help you recover your file without compromising its security.