UnLock cells and protecting worksheets Excel 2013

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Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets

In Excel there are any numbers of protection schemes and one of the ones that gives you quite a variety of options is called Worksheet Protection. The actual sheet we're using right now is called WorksheetProtection; it's in the file called 11-Security&Ensuring. Let's imagine you're an HR manager, you've got a trusted assistant and what you do periodically handing that personal sheet of paper is a list of changes that need to be made to this list. One of the changes for example might be to change this Hire Date here to be 1998.

Now you could imagine someone who doesn't know Excel way saying, okay, I'm going to make that 98, I'm going to make the years here be 15, so I'll go change the years to 15 and come over here and make this be 98. That's an innocent thought. However, this is a formula here, an unusual formula but nevertheless if you type a 15 there you've wiped out the formula. And so one security concern for sure is I want to protect my formulas. I don't want them destroyed. Now you want also be saying at the same time, I want to allow this date to be changed and have my formula work, then that will happen if we set this up properly.

There is another concern, should these job ratings be that available? Maybe this is a part-time employee and that's pretty confidential information and that shouldn't be thrown around so easily. So what might we do here? We might simply hide this column. I'm going to Right-Click on the column and hide it. Sometimes that alone does the job. But we want to be a little bit more careful than just that. What we ultimately want to do here is to make sure that information that we just hid is not available to certain people and we want to make sure that certain formulas are not destroyed.

And here is another concern, let's say we need these salaries to be available for reference purposes, they help us to find which person is here, we certainly don't want them to be changed though, at least not by the person who is making these other changes. Now, the idea of protection starts off with a slightly different idea. In Excel all cells within a worksheet are initially locked. Now you might have unlocked them for one reason or another, let's say we haven't here. If you Right-Click any cell and go to Format Cells and this is one of many ways to get to the same feature, if you go to the Protection tab you'll the term Locked and probably a checkmark in front of it, nearly always.

The description below, Locking cells has no effect until you protect the worksheet, now we're about to do that. So right now all of these cells are locked. If we turn on this feature called Worksheet Protection, we won't be able make changes anywhere. But let's say as a general rule in this worksheet we do want to allow changes in most locations. We don't want our formulas altered in column F, we don't want the salaries changed in column H and we don't want that hidden column revealed, so what do we do first? Click in the upper-left corner to select the entire worksheet and then Right-Clicking on any cell, we can go Format Cells, we could also get here by the way by pressing Ctrl+1.

In both cases we're back at the Format Cells dialog box. Let's unlock all cells, at least for the moment. Sometimes when you come here, this box is gray and that means that some of the cells are locked, some are not so you might have to click it once or twice, make sure that it looks truly empty, the way it looks here, click OK. Now, we want to make sure that no changes are specifically made in column F, in other words nobody can type here, same thing in column H. So using the Ctrl key we'll select both of these and then Right-Clicking we want to go to Format Cells and now on the Protection tab we want to lock these cells.

Still we haven't gotten to the stage, where this means anything yet; Locking cells has no effect until you protect the worksheet. Okay, we're about to use this feature it's on the Review tab, it's called Protect Sheet. Prevent unwanted changes from others by limiting their ability to edit, click the option. And then, a rather extensive list of things that we might allow while using this particular worksheet.

Now at a minimum if you want to allow any changes to be made you must have the second box checked, it says Select unlocked cells. If you can't click on an unlocked cell then you can't make any changes to it. Now the box above it says Select lock cells. If we have a check box there it means that someone can click the box or tab into it but if it's locked, no one will be able to make changes there. So let's -- first time around here, we'll show it to you both ways, leave this unchecked. Now if you want to allow the other user to be able unhide columns; then you will allow formatting of columns, but let's say we don't want to that.

So we'll leave most of these, in fact all of the others unchecked. We're ready to click OK here, but let's provide a Password as well, another level of security, put in a password. We'll click OK or press Enter and here is the password again and of course don't forget it, we click OK. Now when you're in this mode, one visual giveaway is if the HOME tab is active, look how most of these features are grayed out and that's not fool proof but usually that's the case when you see this, you've got worksheet protection in effect.

But no other words or phrases on the screen that seem to suggest that. So here we are, imagine the other user is using this and sees that sheet of paper and this person is really hard 98, so what I'll do is I'll click over here, gee I can click there, can I use my right arrow key, well that jumps me over it. I can't even go there. So I'm not going to be able to make any changes in column F. Well I guess I'll just Double-Click here and change that to 98. And as I do, watch the years to the right change. So the formula does its job if you're not specifically allowed to click here and make changes to it.

And this is my friend's salary, I think I'll change that, or raise that. Well, gee I can't click on, I can't tab into it, I can't arrow into it anyway, can't get there at all. And it looks to me like there's a hidden column between columns H and I. This I'll drag across here and can we somehow do that? Looks like I can't do that. Can I Right-Click and -- no, can't get there either. Can we somehow Double-Click here, nope, can't get there. Could we somehow go up to the commands Format, Unhide, Hide sheet maybe, what's this Row, can't get to any of this.

So I mean depending upon the persons who are using this and the security levels, you can begin to see how this makes some sense here. When the worksheet is in this stage, changes can be made in most places, in our example here but not specifically in column F and not for the salaries. How do we turn off the feature? Review tab, Unprotect the Sheet. And of course you got to know the Password, I do. Okay, we're back in the stage. Now one variation on this, almost the same but slight difference, if we protect the sheet and this time allow all users to select the locked cells, and once again we'll provide a Password here.

When the worksheet is in this stage you can click on the cell here, but as soon as you start to type something, immediately you get a pop-up message, The cell you're trying to change is on a protected sheet, same thing with salaries. Now we can click here, that hardly makes much difference if we can't do anything, can't make any changes there at all. So that's a slight difference in the settings, but in both cases we are not able to make changes here when it's in this state, unless we can Unprotect the sheet. So I think you can sense the value of this, it works only on the current worksheet; it gives us powerful ability here to control what's being changed within a worksheet.

Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets
Video duration: 7m 50s 6h 32m Appropriate for all


Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets provides you with in-depth training on Business. Taught by Dennis Taylor as part of the Excel 2013 Essential Training

Business Education + Elearning
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