Did you know you can set different passwords to protect specific ranges of your Excel worksheets?
It’s called Allow Users to Edit Ranges and you’ll find it on the Review tab in the Changes group:
Let’s say you have several different users of a workbook and you want to restrict each user’s editing rights to a specific range (knowing this would have been handy when I used to collate budget and forecast data from department managers), you can give them their own password which only unprotects the section they’re allowed to work on.
Or, if you work on a network drive you can simply grant users permission to a specific range so they don’t have to enter the password.
Applying Different Passwords
It’s easy to set up. I’ll demonstrate using these 4 regions where each region will have a different user enter the data:
- Go to the Review tab in the Changes group > Click on Allow Users to Edit Ranges button.
- Click on ‘New’ to set up your first range for North, which will be cells C3:C14 and enter your password:
- Rinse & Repeat for regions South, East and West using different passwords for each (assuming a different user will input each region).
- Now you should have all 4 ranges listed in the Allow Users to Edit Ranges dialog box and you’re ready to protect the sheet. Click on the Protect Sheet button and enter a unique password (this is your master password so it should be different from the passwords for the users):
- Now when anyone attempts to enter data into the protected cells they’ll be prompted for their password:
Tip: You can set non-contiguous ranges, just select the first range > hold down CTRL and select the next range and so on. This will insert a comma between each range.
Things to note:
- Upon the user entering their password, that range becomes unlocked while the other ranges remain locked.
- You can unlock multiple ranges and doing so will not lock any previously unlocked ranges.
- Once a range has been unlocked by a user, it will remain unlocked until the workbook is closed.
- Saving a workbook doesn't lock any ranges.
- No protection is actually applied until you password protect the workbook. Don’t forget this step 🙂
If you need to change a password simply:
- Go to the Review tab > Click Unprotect Sheet > enter your password
- On the Review tab > Allow Users to Edit Ranges
- Click on the range you want to edit > Modify > Password > enter your new password:
- Don’t forget to protect the sheet again.
Protection for Groups and Users
If your workbook is on a shared network drive then you can assign individual users or groups of users. Any permitted users can then edit the protected ranges without having to enter the password.
Note: Other users can still edit the ranges by typing in the password.
To set up access for users and groups of users:
- After setting up your ranges open the Allow Users to Edit Ranges dialog box.
- Click on the range you want to set permissions for and click the Permissions button:
- In the next dialog box click Add. This will open the dialog box where you can select the users or groups (note: I don’t have a network drive so my dialog box in the image below doesn’t show a list of users or groups, but yours should if your file is saved to a network drive):
- Now you’re all set. Don’t forget to password protect the workbook again 🙂
Please be aware that Excel doesn’t encrypt data in a password protected workbook and anyone can figure out a way to crack the password in an Excel file by doing enough searches on Google.
Excel password protection is designed to prevent users from accidentally editing data they shouldn't, and to avoid confusion by allowing you to hide formulas and other information from view. It’s by no means Fort Knox.