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Remove Excel Password from Excel file / Worksheets / Workbook Structure

In the realm of data security, password protection in Excel serves as a vital tool to control file access and edit permissions. However, there are times when removing these passwords becomes necessary - whether to facilitate easier editing, to share with colleagues, or simply because the extra layer of security is no longer required. This article will guide you through the process of removing passwords from an Excel file, be it an encrypted file or a protected worksheet, ensuring smooth and unrestricted access to your data in Excel.

Removing Password from Encrypted Excel File:

Removing Password from Protected Worksheets:

Accessing Unknown Passwords Protected Worksheets

Unlocking Password-Protected Workbook Structure


Removing Password from Encrypted Excel File

 

Encrypting an Excel file is a common practice to safeguard sensitive data. This involves setting a password to access the workbook, preventing unauthorized viewing. This is especially important for files containing confidential data like financial records, personal information, or proprietary business data. However, there may come a time when you need to remove this password from your encrypted Excel file. Whether it's because the security is no longer necessary or you want to enhance accessibility for editing and sharing, this guide presents two simple methods for removing encryption.


Utilize the 'Info' option for straightforward removal

This method involves using the built-in features of Excel to remove the password directly from the file.

Step 1: Open Your Encrypted Excel File

Start by opening the Excel file that is password protected. (Need to enter the password to open the protected file.)

Step 2: Access File Info
  1. Click on the File tab in the Excel ribbon to access the backstage view.

  2. Select Info on the left sidebar.

Step 3: Remove Encryption
  1. In the Info section, look for the Protect Workbook box. Click on the Encrypt with Password option.

  2. A dialog box will appear where the current password is displayed. Delete the password from the password field. (This action will remove the password protection from the file.) Click OK to confirm the removal of the password.

Step 4: Save Changes

Save your file to apply the changes.

Your Excel file is no longer password-protected.


Employ the 'Save As' feature to create an unprotected copy

If you prefer keeping the original file encrypted but need an unprotected version for ease of access or editing, creating a copy of the file without a password is the way to go.

Step 1: Open the Encrypted File

Open the password-protected Excel file as you normally would. (Need to enter the password to open the protected file.)

Step 2: Use Save As
  1. Go to File > Save As.

  2. Choose your desired location to save the new file.

  3. In the Save As dialog, click on the Tools button near the Save button and select General Options.

  4. In the General Options window, you will see the Password to open field. Clear this field to remove the password. Click OK to close the dialog.

Step 3: Save the New File
  1. Give your file a new name if you wish to distinguish it from the original encrypted file.

  2. Click Save. This new file will be an exact copy of the original but without password protection.

Now the saved copy of the file is unprotected.

Note: Utilizing the "Save As" method creates a separate copy of the file without any password protection. The original file remains secured with the password.

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Removing Password from Protected Worksheets

In Excel, protecting worksheets with a password is a common practice to allow users access the worksheet but restrict unauthorized editing. When you protect a worksheet, you can set various restrictions to control what users can and cannot do on that sheet. However, there may come a time when you need to remove these passwords - perhaps for editing purposes or because the protection is no longer necessary. This article will guide you through two effective methods for removing passwords from protected worksheets.


Use the 'Unprotect' feature to remove passwords individually

Step 1: Open the protected worksheet

Begin by opening the Excel workbook that contains the password-protected sheet(s).

Step 2: Navigate to the Protected Sheet

Click on the tab of the worksheet you wish to unprotect.

Step 3: Access the Unprotect Feature

Go to the Review tab on the Excel ribbon. Click on Unprotect Sheet. This button is available in the Protect group.

Step 4: Enter the Password to unprotect the worksheet

In the prompted dialog, enter the password for the worksheet and click OK. Now the worksheet is no longer protected, and you can freely edit it.

Tip: or unprotecting multiple worksheets, repeat the process for each worksheet you need to unprotect. Or try below method for batch unprotect worksheets.

Apply 'Kutools for Excel' for batch removal from multiple sheets

If you have multiple worksheets that need to be unprotected, and they all share the same password, unprotecting them one by one can be a time-consuming process. Kutools for Excel's Unprotect Worksheets feature allows you to unprotect all or specific worksheets within a workbook in one go, significantly improving your work efficiency.

Click Kutools Plus > Protect Worksheets > Unprotect Worksheets, then tick the worksheets you want to unprotect (at default, all sheets are checked), then type the password and click OK.

If you want to protect multiple worksheets with on password, apply Protect Worksheets feature, it allows you protect worksheets at once time. Besides, there are more than 300 handy tools for improving your work efficiency.


Accessing Unknown Passwords Protected Worksheets

Encountering a password-protected Excel worksheet without knowing the password can pose a significant hurdle. However, an unconventional but effective method to bypass this protection involves using the zip file technique. This approach requires converting the Excel file into a zip format, manipulating the file structure, and then reverting it back to its original state.

Note: This method should only be used ethically and legally, with appropriate permissions.
Step 1: Create a Backup of the Excel File

Before proceeding, ensure you have a backup copy of the Excel file to prevent data loss.

Step 2: Change the Excel File Extension to Zip
  1. Locate the Excel file in File Explorer. (Go to the folder that contains the Excel file you want to unprotect the worksheets.)

  2. Right-click on the Excel file and choose Rename to enter the edit mode. Change the file extension from .xlsx or .xls to .zip.

  3. Click Yes button in the prompted dialog.

Note:You may need to enable viewing file extensions in File Explorer settings, details about how to show file extensions in Windows 11, please scroll down to the bottom of this section.
Step 3: Open the Zip File

Double-click on the zip file to open it.

Step 4: Locate the Protected Worksheet
  1. Navigate to the extracted folder, and then go to the xl folder.

  2. Find the Worksheets directory, and double-click on it to open this folder.

    You can see individual sheets are stored as separate XML files (e.g., sheet1.xml).

Step 5: Copy the Protected Sheet to another Location

Select the protected sheet (e.g. sheet2.xml) and press Ctrl + C to copy it, then go to another folder and press Ctrl + V to paste it.

Step 6: Open the Protected Sheet with Notepad

Right-click on the copied protected sheet, select Open with > Notepad.

Step 7: Identify and Remove the Password Protection Tag
  1. In the Notepad window, press Ctrl + F to enable the search bar, then enter “protect”, then press Enter key to find this string in the notepad.

  2. Select the entire line the string "protect"in – everything between and including the "<" and ">" characters and press Delete key to delete it.

    Delete this line:

Step 8: Save and Close the Modified file

After removing the tag, save the changes to the file.

Step 9: Copy the Modified XML file back to the Original Worksheets Folder
  1. Select the modified XML file, press Ctrl + C to copy it, and go back to the Worksheets folder, press Ctrl + V to paste it.

  2. When you paste the file, a dialog pops out, select Copy and Replace option.

Step 10: Change the Extension Back to Excel Format
  1. Repack all the contents of the extracted folder back into a zip file.

  2. Rename the file extension from .zip back to .xlsx or .xls.

    In the Rename dialog, click Yes to continue.

Step 11: Open the Modified Excel File to Check If the Password is removed

Open the modified Excel file. The previously protected worksheet should now be accessible without requiring a password.

Tip:
  1. For showing the file extensions in Windows 11, please click View in the ribbon of the folder, then click Show and tick File name extensions.

  2. For removing multiple protected worksheets passwords, repeat step 5 – step 9.

  3. This method only work for removing passwords from protected worksheets, if the Excel file is encrypted, this method cannot work.


Unlocking Password-Protected Workbook Structure

Workbook structure protection in Excel safeguards the layout of the sheets within the workbook. It restricts users from adding, moving, renaming, hiding/unhiding, or deleting sheets. However, for some reasons, you may want to remove the password and unlock the workbook structure.

Step 1: Open the Protected Workbook

Start by opening the Excel workbook with the protected structure.

Step 2: Locate the Structure Protection Feature

Go to the Review tab on the Excel ribbon, find and click on the Protect Workbook button in the Protect group.

Step 3: Enter the Password for Unlocking Workbook Protection

A dialog box will appear prompting you to enter the password. Enter the password and click OK.

The workbook structure is now unprotected, and you can modify the workbook as needed.


General Notes on Excel Passwords

Types of Passwords in Excel:
  • Workbook Protection: Prevents opening the workbook without the password.
  • Worksheet Protection: Restricts editing and formatting on a particular sheet.
  • Workbook Structure Protection: Protects the layout of the sheets within the workbook.
Password Strength:

Use strong, complex passwords combining letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols. Avoid common words or easily guessable passwords like "12345" or "password."


Whether you're dealing with an encrypted file, a protected worksheet, or a locked workbook structure, the steps outlined above will help you remove passwords and regain control of your Excel documents. Always remember to keep password management ethical and within the legal framework, especially when handling sensitive data. For more game-changing Excel strategies that can elevate your data management, explore further here..


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