File protection for Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files

I had a question yesterday from someone asking if there was a way to password protect an Excel file. I just assumed that everyone knew that was possible, but I didn’t have a direct answer that said “click here, here, and here” to help her. Thus, today’s tip on how to password protect files in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

For each of the programs, select File > Info to get to the Protect Workbook (Excel), Protect Document (Word), or Protect Presentation (PowerPoint – not shown here) option:


When you click the Protect icon, you’ll get a list of options appropriate to the type of file you’re in.

When in Excel, you can password protect the entire document, make it read-only, protect the current sheet or the entire structure of the spreadsheet, as well as restrict access and add a digital signature:


Word lets you mark a document as final, password protect it, restrict who can edit it, restrict who can access it, as well as add a digital signature:


PowerPoint just has the Mark As Final, Encrypt with Password, Restrict Access, and Add a Digital Signature:


Important note! If you choose to password protect a document, it is *critical* that you record that password in a secure location where another person can access it if you are unavailable. There is no supported method for recovering a file that’s been password-protected if the password is forgotten. You can take your chances with a third-party password recovery tool (basically, you’re hacking the file), but it probably won’t work, and the company frowns on things like that.

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