How to Unprotect an Excel Spreadsheet if you have lost your password.

I recently had the circumstance where a client sent me a copy of a spreadsheet that was password protected, however the client no longer had the password to unlock the content. They were wondering if there was anything we could do…

So how do you unprotect an Excel spreadsheet when you don’t have the password? Unfortunately, there is no quick and simple way for your to view or recover a lost password.

Microsoft’s official stand on this matter is:

[URL] – Microsoft

Recover a password to open a workbook or worksheet

Excel lets you password protect your workbooks, and your worksheets. But, it’s easy to forget or misplace your passwords. Unfortunately, if that’s happened to you, we don’t have a way to help you recover a lost password.

Excel doesn’t store passwords where you or Microsoft can look them up. That’s also true for the other Office programs that let you protect files. That’s why it’s always a good idea to store your passwords someplace safe.

Some third-party companies offer programs for unlocking files. For legal reasons, we can’t recommend those programs. You can try them, but at your own risk.

So what do you do if you have lost the password to unprotect an excel workbook or worksheet?

The following method MAY, we re-iterate MAY, work for you, but then again it may not as well.  We have had a good amount of success using this method but it has not worked 100% of the time. Having said that, the method does not harm your spreadsheet nor data, so you have nothing to lose from trying it.

How to unprotect a password protected worksheet.

So what do you do…

In the case of a password protected worksheet where you are unable to Edit the data you can try the following steps to unprotect your worksheet.

Step 1 Press ALT +  F11 or click View Code on the Developers Tab

Step 2 Double click on the worksheet that is password protected.

Step 3 Copy and paste the code below into the (Code) window. Do not change any of the code, just copy and paste it.

Sub PasswordBreaker()

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 usable 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 Click on the Run Button or press F5.

And there you have it.


If this method worked and was able to unprotect your worksheet you’ll a small pop-up window saying “One usable password is XXXYYYZZZXXXY”.