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Learn how to lock cells in excel to protect your data and formulas from being overwritten

Lock Your Cells in Excel

cell format exceltips lock cells Jan 13, 2022

There are many reasons why anyone would want to lock anything (or anyone) up. It could be to protect the very thing you’re locking up from the outside world, or vice versa. Did you know that lock Excel cells too? Don’t worry! It’s nothing like the Shaw Shank Redemption.

Imagine working on an important Excel file for several days then sharing or sending it with someone else who messes up your data! That’s an office pantry rant you don’t want to be part of. Excel makes use of rows and columns to organize very important numbers for a whole variety of reasons. Are you willing to take the risk? See Protect a workbook.

Fortunately, Excel can solve this problem by having the ability to lock an entire sheet to prevent any changes or lock specific fields or cells to prevent them from being edited while keeping the rest of the fields open.

When working with Excel tables, there is sometimes a need to prevent cell editing. This is especially true for ranges that contain formulas or are referenced by other cells. After all, tiny changes are the Achilles' heel of any complex spreadsheet. Inclusivity is important in the workplace, yes, but exclusivity would be greatly appreciated by your spreadsheets.

Unintended actions by an unauthorized user can destroy all your work if some data is not well protected. So how do we lock the Microsoft Excel cells? This article will guide you to Lock cells to protect them from unplanned and random editing with the following steps:


How to Lock and Protect Selected Cells Using Cell Format 

The following steps will first direct you to open all current cells, lock the required cells and ranges, and then protect the current worksheet. To know how to use the lock cells feature in Excel; Please do the following: 

  1. Click the arrow in the upper left corner of the worksheet to select all cells in the active worksheet. 
  1. Right-click on any selected cell and select the File Format Cell item from the context menu. See the below screenshot:


  1. In the Format Cells dialog, uncheck the Locked option under the Protection tab and click the OK button.
  1. Select the cells and ranges you want to lock, right-click and select the Format Cell File item from the context menu. See Protect a worksheet
  1. Select the File Lock option under the Protection tab and click the OK button in the Format Cells dialogue. See the picture above 
  1. Click Review > Protect Sheet to protect the current worksheet. See the below screenshot:


  1. Enter a password in the empty box of the Protect Sheet dialog and click the OK button. Then retype the password in the other confirm password dialog and click the OK button. See the screenshot above. 

The first thing to note is that the Locked option in Excel is selected by default. However, this only takes effect when you specify to protect the spreadsheet. The Lock all cells feature setting is specified, so protecting the spreadsheet will lock all cells in it whether or not they contain formulas. Those who only need to lock functions must first unlock the spreadsheet and select the formula cells. See protect formulas. 

Now it only locks and protects the cells and ranges you selected in step 4, while unselected ranges can be edited. The good thing is that when Microsoft designed the entire Office suite, it was meticulous - every detail was covered, including allowing users to lock individual cells for protection.

This allows you to create user-friendly dashboards and templates that you could give out to your audiences to use without fearing too much that they will edit it to an unusable extent.

You can find several ready-to-use templates on Simple Sheets. The catalog is great if you want to see some awesome examples on how you can make the most out of locking up your cells. Make your spreadsheets more simpler than Prison Break with Simple Sheets!  

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