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: Checking Lock Status of Cells.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 23, 2020)
Excel allows you to easily change whether a cell is formatted as locked or unlocked. This attribute is handled on a cell-by-cell basis, even though the effects of the locking (or unlocking) are not evident until such point as you protect the entire worksheet.
Since locking and unlocking can be done on an individual cell basis, you may wonder if there is a way to display the lock status (locked or unlocked) of all your cells in a worksheet, at one time, without the need to check each cell individually.
The default lock status for cells is locked, so it probably makes more sense to select those cells that are unlocked. One way you can do that is to follow these steps, if you are using Excel 2003:
Figure 1. The Protection tab of the Find Format dialog box.
At this point, Excel will do one of two things. If it finds any unlocked cells, the addresses of those cells are listed on the screen. If it doesn't find any unlocked cells, then it informs you that it can't find them.
The above technique only works in Excel 2003 because the capability to search for formatting was only added in that version of Excel. Regardless of the version you are using, you can use conditional formatting to highlight unlocked cells. Follow these steps:
Figure 2. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.
Figure 3. The Format Cells dialog box.
Now all the cells in your worksheet that are unlocked will have the formatting you defined in step 6.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10765) 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: Checking Lock Status of Cells.
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