How To Unlock An Excel Spreadsheet

Unlocking an Excel spreadsheet can be a lifesaver when you need to access important data, but have forgotten the password. As a tech enthusiast and Excel aficionado, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with locked spreadsheets. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of unlocking an Excel spreadsheet, sharing some personal insights along the way.

Understanding the Need to Unlock an Excel Spreadsheet

Before we delve into the process, it’s essential to understand the common scenarios that lead to a locked Excel spreadsheet. Forgetting the password, inheriting a locked spreadsheet from a colleague, or encountering an old file with a password set long ago are just a few situations that may warrant unlocking an Excel spreadsheet.

Using VBA Code to Unlock the Spreadsheet

One of the most effective methods to unlock an Excel spreadsheet is by using a VBA code. This method involves accessing the developer tab, opening the VBA editor, and running a simple code to bypass the password protection. The process may seem daunting at first, but with the right instructions, it can be quite straightforward.

Step 1: Access the Developer Tab

To enable the Developer tab, go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon. Then, check the Developer option and click OK. This will display the Developer tab in the Excel ribbon.

Step 2: Open the VBA Editor

Click on the Developer tab and select “Visual Basic” to open the VBA editor. In the VBA editor, double click on the worksheet that needs to be unlocked.

Step 3: Enter the Code

Now, it’s time to enter the VBA code to unlock the spreadsheet. The code is as follows:

Sub UnlockSheet()
Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer
Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer
Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer
Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer
On Error Resume Next
For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66
For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66
For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66
For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126
ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _
Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _
Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
MsgBox "One valid password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _
Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _
Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
Exit Sub
End If
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
End Sub

Step 4: Run the Code

After entering the code, simply run it by clicking the “Run” button or by pressing F5. The code will search for the password and eventually unlock the spreadsheet, revealing its contents.

Using Third-Party Tools

If the VBA method seems too technical, another approach is to use third-party tools designed specifically for unlocking Excel spreadsheets. These tools often provide a user-friendly interface and can quickly remove password protection from the file. However, it’s important to exercise caution when downloading and using such software, as they may pose security risks.


Unlocking an Excel spreadsheet, whether through VBA code or third-party tools, can be a valuable skill when faced with a locked file. By following the methods outlined in this article and taking necessary precautions, you can regain access to important data stored in Excel spreadsheets. Remember to use these techniques responsibly and only on files for which you have proper authorization.