Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Protecting an Entire Folder of Workbooks.

Protecting an Entire Folder of Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 26, 2021)

Mahesh has a number of Excel workbooks, all stored in the same folder. He wonders if it is possible to assign a password to the entire folder so that all the workbooks are protected.

The short answer is no, you can't do that in Excel. There are a number of different techniques you can apply that will provide the desired result, however. The first method is to use a program such as WinZip to combine all the workbooks into a single zip file. This file can be password protected (in WinZip) so that not everyone can open it. You could then open the zip file (using your password) and double-click on any workbook in it in order to modify it with Excel. The result, for all intents and purposes, is that you have a "folder" (the zip file) that is protected, while the individual files it contains are not.

Another approach is to place the workbook folder on a network drive and then have the network admin protect the folder. Most network operating systems allow administrators to control who can have access to specific folders and their contents.

A third approach is to use a third-party program to protect the folder. A quick search of the Web will no doubt turn up several candidates, such as the following:

http://www.folder-password-expert.com

You can also use an Excel macro to protect the workbooks. While it does not offer true folder-level protection, it does allow you to protect all the workbooks in the folder in as easy a manner as possible.

Sub ProtectAll()
    Dim wBk As Workbook
    Dim sFileSpec As String
    Dim sPathSpec As String
    Dim sFoundFile As String

    sPathSpec = "C:\MyPath\"
    sFileSpec = "*.xls"

    sFoundFile = Dir(sPathSpec & sFileSpec)
    Do While sFoundFile <> ""
        Set wBk = Workbooks.Open(sPathSpec & sFoundFile)
        With wBk
            Application.DisplayAlerts = False
            wBk.SaveAs FileName:=.FullName, _
              Password:="swordfish"
            Application.DisplayAlerts = True
        End With
        Set wBk = Nothing
        Workbooks(sFoundFile).Close False
        sFoundFile = Dir
    Loop
End Sub

Make sure you change the sPathSpec and sFileSpec variables, near the beginning of the code, to reflect the folder containing the workbooks and the pattern for the names of the workbooks you want protected. The macro assumes that all the workbooks are unprotected; if any are not, the macro will prompt for the workbook's password.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2878) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Protecting an Entire Folder of Workbooks.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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