How to Make Excel Files Read Only

It is great to collaborate online and to make changes to documents. This helps virtual teams work together remotely in a way that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. However, if you have worked hard on a document that must be maintained and left unchanged, it is important to ensure that it is protected. If you want to know how to make Microsoft Excel files read only, it is not difficult but you must carry out a few simple steps to ensure that the next person who sees your Excel file does not change it.

Tip on How to Make Excel Files Read Only

You have a couple of options but the safest way is to use the Protect Sheet option. 

First up, click on the worksheet tab and choose Protect Sheet in the drop down menu.

Then enter a password so that you and only you can make changes to the excel file later if required.  You will need to store this password in a safe place because there is no way it can be recovered later if you forget it.

The Protect Sheet tab comes with a drop down menu that can be customized in order for other viewers to make changes. To enable them to do this you must check each box. Options include select locked cells, select unlocked cells, format cells  format columns, etc.  However, If you leave all these boxes unchecked  any further users can only view the Excel files and not change them.

Once you have ticked OK and re-entered your password , your Excel file is now protected.

If you want to unprotect it at a later date, right click on the worksheet tab and click Unprotect Sheet. The password for the downloadable Excel file is “easy.”

Alternatively, you can make your Excel file read only by saving your copy of the sheet. This enables other users to make changes but it leaves you with the “master copy “ intact.

How to make Excel files read only by this method is easier, but it is not as secure as Protect Sheet.

First open your worksheet or Excel file. Choose the File Tab and click on Save As. Then click on Browse.

Once you have done this, Click on the Tools button and the click on General Options in the drop down menu. This will reveal a box that gives you a couple of options. Choose Password to Modify and type in a password. This means that any readers will be unable to change the document without the password.

However, if you only want to advise them not to modify the document and trust them not to make changes, just tick the Read Only recommended  box. If you do this you don’t have to enter the password.

Enter the file name, using the read only prefix and save.

Password to Modify is not a security setting. If you choose this option, your Excel file is not encrypted so if there is any security risk Protect Sheet is always the better option.