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: Functioning Check Boxes in a Protected Worksheet.

Functioning Check Boxes in a Protected Worksheet

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 1, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Dave developed a worksheet that uses yes/no check boxes, combined with a true/false statement to update another cell. He wants to protect the worksheet, but still be able to update the check boxes, but this doesn't seem to be possible. When he protects the worksheet, the check boxes cannot be changed.

The thing to remember in working with check boxes (from the Forms toolbar) is that there are two things you need to explicitly unprotect: the check box itself and the cell to which the check box is linked. To unprotect the check box, right-click on it and choose Format Control. Excel displays the Format Control dialog box. On the Protection tab, make sure the Locked check box is cleared.

Check boxes are also linked to specific cells in a worksheet. (See the Control tab of the Format Control dialog box.) To unprotect the cell to which the check box is linked, select the cell and choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box. On the Protection tab, make sure the Locked check box is cleared.

Now you can protect your workbook as you normally would, and the check boxes should work. The reason that you need to unprotect the cell to which the check box is linked is because the contents of the cell needs to be able to change as the status of the check box is modified. If the cell is not unprotected, then the contents cannot change and so the check box cannot change.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3078) 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: Functioning Check Boxes in a Protected Worksheet.

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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