How to lock cells in Excel

How to lock cells in Excel

When you’re handling complicated or extensive Microsoft Excel worksheets in your everyday workload, you’ll find quickly enough that it might be in your best interest to find out how to lock cells in Excel. Or at the very least, some of the pertinent ones, especially if that document is being shared and handled by several individuals at the workplace.

After all, handling a spreadsheet with several rows and columns, not to mention hundreds of filled in cells, can get a little confusing, and mistakes will happen. Someone could accidentally drag one cell over the other without noticing, perhaps. Or one person could delete the contents of a cell, unaware that they did it until someone else notices later on that the information is missing, and it’s all too late to undo.

Or, it could be a simple case of not wanting the rest of the team to make changes to a particular column or a row. It’s times like those when knowing how to lock cells in Excel really comes in handy, so that you can protect crucial information on your worksheets from permanent deletion or changes.

It’s a good thing that, when Microsoft designed its whole Office suite, it was meticulous  – so that every single detail is covered, including allowing users to lock individual cells for protection. It’s quite easy, too.

Here’s how to lock cells in Excel, whether you’re a Windows 10 user or a macOS supporter.

How to lock cells in Excel

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Windows 10 or a macOS user. The steps on how to lock cells in Excel are pretty much the same, even if the interfaces might look slightly different. Just follow our instructions below, and you’ll be locking those cells like a pro in no time.

How to lock cells in Excel

Step 1: Select all cells in the worksheet.

By default, Microsoft Excel has every single cell on a new worksheet set to lock. This doesn’t mean that the cells are not editable at default; only that if you decide to lock the whole worksheet, you can do so quickly and without the added steps.

If you need to lock only a few specific cells in your worksheet, you need to make sure first that then the whole sheet is unlocked.

How to lock cells in Excel

Step 2: To unlock the whole sheet, right-click on Windows 10 (two-finger tap on macOS). Then click on Format > Protection. Deselect or uncheck “Locked” and click OK.

Essentially, this unlocks every cell on that worksheet.

How to lock cells in Excel

Step 3: Select all the individual cells you want to lock.

You may select entire rows or columns, or specific cells. To select specific cells that are not next to each other, hold down the Command key on macOS or Control key on Windows 10 as you select every cell individually.

Step 4: On one of the selected cells, right-click on Windows 10 (two-finger tap on macOS). Then click on Format > Protection again.

How to lock cells in Excel

Step 5: This time, tick off “Locked” and click OK.

This tells Excel that you want those specific cells to be locked. This step, however, doesn’t exactly lock the sheets. To lock those sheets, you still have to tell Excel to protect the worksheet.

Step 6: On the main menu, go to the Review tab and click Protect Sheet.

A dialogue box will open to let you select a few options and also set a password. Set a password, if you need to.

How to lock cells in Excel

Step 7: Only tick off “Select unlocked cells” and uncheck everything else.

This effectively locks the cells you’ve selected, but also leaves everything else unlocked for editing.


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