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: Saving a Workbook Using Passwords.

Saving a Workbook Using Passwords

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 25, 2015)

Excel includes a feature that allows you to save a workbook using a password so that only others who have the password can access the file. This form of protection can stop others from using a workbook unless they know your password. To save a workbook using password protection, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Save As from the File menu. Excel displays the familiar Save As dialog box.
  2. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify a file name and location, as you normally do.
  3. Click on the Tools button at the top-right corner of the Save As dialog box, and then choose General Options. Excel displays the Save Options dialog box.

If you are using Excel 97, the steps to follow are just a bit different:

  1. Choose Save As from the File menu. Excel displays the familiar Save As dialog box.
  2. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify a file name and location, as you normally do.
  3. Click on the Options button. Excel displays the Save Options dialog box.

The Save Options dialog box contains boxes where you can enter two passwords. Each password controls a different level of protection. If you fill in the first password field, you are specifying the password someone needs to know simply to open the workbook. If you fill in the second field, then someone needs to know that password to make any changes to the workbook. Understand that they can still save the open workbook under a new name, but they cannot make any changes and save them back into the same disk file.

You should set your passwords as desired, and then click on OK to dismiss the Save Option dialog box. You are asked to confirm your password, and then you can continue to save your file (using the Save As dialog box) as you normally would.

As a final caveat, you should note that none of the native (built-in) password schemes in Excel are particularly robust. If you want the best protection possible, you should look to a third-party solution for encrypting and protecting your workbooks.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2938) 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: Saving a Workbook Using Passwords.

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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