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: Using a Single Password for Multiple Workbooks.

Using a Single Password for Multiple Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 16, 2015)

Bill has a set of multiple workbooks that he frequently uses as a suite. To prevent prying eyes from the contents of these workbooks, he has set a password for each of them. Bill uses a menu workbook as a gateway to the other workbooks in the suite. The workbook contains hyperlinks to the individual workbooks, providing him with quick access to the workbooks in his suite.

Since Excel protects, via password, each workbook on a file-level basis, whenever Bill clicks a hyperlink he needs to enter the password for the workbook he is trying to access. He wonders if there is a way to simply enter the password once (it is the same password for all of the workbooks in his suite) and have access to all the workbooks without the necessity of repeatedly entering the password.

The short answer is that this cannot be done since Excel treats each file separately. Switch to a separate file via your hyperlink, and Excel once again asks for the password. There are only two possible ways to avoid the annoyance. The first is to combine all the separate workbooks into a single workbook. This may not be an optimal solution, for any number of reasons. (For instance, you may need to distribute individual workbooks to other users. If you combine all the workbooks into one, you remove this capability.)

The other solution is to use a macro to handle switching between workbooks, rather than using hyperlinks. There are many ways that such a macro system could be set up, but one simple way that mimics the hyperlink method is to create a new worksheet that will act as your "gateway." In the cells where you would have added hyperlinks, instead place the full path and filename of each workbook you want to link to. You should end up with a list of file specifications for your workbooks.

Now, right-click the sheet tab of this new worksheet. Excel displays a Context menu from which you should select View Code. This displays the VBA Editor, with the code pane displayed for the worksheet. Enter the following macro into the code pane:

Private Sub Worksheet_BeforeDoubleClick _
  (ByVal Target As Excel.Range, Cancel As Boolean)
    Dim sPW As String
    Dim sFile As String

    sPW = "password" 'Change to your password
    sFile = Target.Value
    If sFile <> "" Then
        If Dir(sFile) <> "" Then
            Workbooks.Open _
              FileName:=sFile, _
              password:=sPW
            Cancel = True
        End If
    End If
End Sub

The only thing you should have to change in the code is the password you want used for the workbooks you are accessing. (The code assumes that the same password is used for all of the workbooks.)

Press Alt+Q to exit the VBA Editor, and you are back at your worksheet. Save the workbook, and then double-click any of the cells containing the path and filenames. What Excel does is to then pass control to the macro which grabs the path and filename and then opens that workbook.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2886) 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: Using a Single Password for Multiple 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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