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How to protect / lock hidden columns in Excel?

In Excel, Hide and Unhide columns are common functions that you may use them a lot, you can easily hide the columns and then unhide them again. But sometimes, you need to hide some columns which contain important data that you don't want others to read. How could you protect the hidden columns not being unhide by others in Excel?

Protect or lock hidden columns with Excel feature

Protect/lock hidden columns with Kutools for Excel

Toggle button to show or hide hidden columns with only one click

Easily protect/lock some cells/columns from editing in Excel

Kutools for Excel provides a quite easy way to protect or lock specified cells from editing in Excel: unlock the whole worksheet by Selection Unlock button, next lock the specified cells you will lock from editing by Selection Lock button, at last protect current worksheet. Click for detailed steps. Full Feature Free Trial 30-day!

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In Excel, the following steps can help you prevent the hidden columns from seeing, please do as this:

1. Click the Select All button (the button at the intersection of row numbers and column letters). See screenshot:

2. Then right click, and choose Format Cells from the context menu, and in the popping out Format Cells dialog box, click Protection tab, and uncheck the Locked option. Then click OK button to close this dialog. See screenshot:

3. And then select the columns that you want to protect, and right click again, select Format Cells from the context menu.

4. In the Format Cells dialog box, click Protection tab, and then check the Locked option. And then click OK to close the dialog, see screenshot:

5. In this step, you can hide the selected columns, and then go to clicking Review > Protect Sheet.

6. And in the Protect Sheet dialog, enter your password and confirm it. See screenshots:

And when you unhide the columns with the Unhide function, the Unhide tool will become gray, so that you can't unhide the hidden columns. See screenshot:

Note: Because you have removed the locked status from all cells, you can enter data into the cells of worksheet as normal.


If you have Kutools for Excel installed, its Selection Lock utility and Selection Unlock utility will help you much easier to protect/lock hidden columns in Excel. You can do as follows:

1. Click the Select All button (the button at the intersection of row numbers and column letters). See screenshot:

2. Click the Enterprise > Worksheet Design to activate the Design tab, and then click the Selection Unlock to unlock all cells in current sheet.

3. Select the columns that you will hide and protect, and then click the Design > Selection Lock.

Notes:

(1) Holding the Ctrl key, you can select multiple nonadjacent columns by selecting each column one by one;

(2) Holding the Shift key, you can select multiple adjacent columns by selecting the first columns and the last one.

4. Hide these columns, and then protect current sheet by clicking Design (or Review) > Protect Sheet, and type your password into both dialog box as following screen shot shown:

Then you will see hidden columns are locked and protected, while other cells in current sheet works as normal.

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One click to unhide all hidden columns, and one click to restore hidden columns

Kutools for Excel’s (Show) Columns utility is a good toggle to show all hidden columns with only one click, and click this Column button for the second time will make these columns hidden again. Full Feature Free Trial 30-day!

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    abishek subash · 4 years ago
    thanks for the tip. That work well. made my work much easy.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    V-Turn · 5 years ago
    This method is a very bad idea...

    Provided that there is one cell you can edit (for example cell A1 in column A), enter the content as "=B1", then you will see the value of B1...
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Mary · 5 years ago
    Directions on how to hide columns.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Rishi · 5 years ago
    My reason to use the above technique is to lock access to values in a column from the audience. However lets say my hidden column is D, a simple "=D4" in another cell gives the value in the D4 cell which is my hidden cell. How do i stop that from happening.
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    Nishitha Kumar · 5 years ago
    It made my life so essy.. thanks a lot..
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    How about unlocking? · 5 years ago
    How can I unlock / unprotect cells / collumns after using this method to lock / protect them?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Ashish · 5 years ago
      [quote name="How about unlocking?"]How can I unlock / unprotect cells / collumns after using this method to lock / protect them?[/quote]
      Just Unprotect Sheet from "Review Tab"
      Then Right Click the Cell/Column/Row and go to Format Cell --> Protection--> Uncheck Locked & Then Protect your sheet again.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    How about unlocking? · 5 years ago
    How can I unlock unprotect cells /columns after using this method to lock them?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    How about unlocking? · 5 years ago
    How can one unlock the locked columns / cells after using this method to lock them?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Jack · 5 years ago
    Use to lock & hide columns in excel.
    Lock cost column when sending to Danny.
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    Marky Mark · 5 years ago
    This worked fine but I have an issue. If after completing the solution I select any row and copy it to another worksheet it contains all the data from the hidden columns. Have I miseed something or is this a fault with the solution?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Ashish · 5 years ago
      [quote name="Marky Mark"]This worked fine but I have an issue. If after completing the solution I select any row and copy it to another worksheet it contains all the data from the hidden columns. Have I miseed something or is this a fault with the solution?[/quote]

      Just Uncheck "Select Locked Cells" in Protect Sheet Dailog box and no one can select or copy the data from hidden columns.
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        John · 4 years ago
        [quote name="Ashish"][quote name="Marky Mark"]This worked fine but I have an issue. If after completing the solution I select any row and copy it to another worksheet it contains all the data from the hidden columns. Have I miseed something or is this a fault with the solution?[/quote]

        Just Uncheck "Select Locked Cells" in Protect Sheet Dailog box and no one can select or copy the data from hidden columns.[/quote]

        I tried this and if you select the column with your mouse on either side of the hidden columns and copy and paste into a new worksheet, it will allow you to unhide the hidden columns. This is not good. Any suggestions? I have Office Excel 2007.
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        Champ · 5 years ago
        [quote name="Ashish"][quote name="Marky Mark"]This worked fine but I have an issue. If after completing the solution I select any row and copy it to another worksheet it contains all the data from the hidden columns. Have I miseed something or is this a fault with the solution?[/quote]

        Just Uncheck "Select Locked Cells" in Protect Sheet Dailog box and no one can select or copy the data from hidden columns.[/quote]


        Even I uncheck "select locked cells" in protect sheet dialog box. it still include "lock & hidden" column when I copy. for example, we lock & hide "column B" but select column A - C and copy then paste to new workbook, it will include column B.
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    t50421 · 5 years ago
    Thanks, instructions very easy to follow.
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    Sri · 5 years ago
    Thanks. It was useful.
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    Gangadhar · 5 years ago
    It's amazing! It's helped my life easy :lol:
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    Jan tenBraak · 5 years ago
    Instructions for PE deal flow
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    Jan tenBraak · 5 years ago
    Instructions on protecting worksheets