How to unlock cells in Google Sheets

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How to unlock cells in Google Sheets
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How to Lock Cells in Google Sheets

By Ben Stockton Last Updated on October 19, 2020

You can lock cells or entire sheets in a Google Sheets spreadsheet to prevent editing. Heres how.

Google Sheets is the best Microsoft Excel competitor in the market. While it may not have all the bells and whistles that Excel brings, its still a pretty powerful piece of software, especially for free. If youve never used it before, check out our beginners guide to Google Sheets for some handy tips.

Once youve created your perfect spreadsheet, you may be concerned about sharing it with other peoplesticky fingers mean deleted cells that ruin your finely crafted formulae, after all. The good news is that its possible to lock a range of cells or an entire sheet to protect them from being edited in Google Sheets.

Lock an Entire Sheet in Google Sheets

If you want to protect an entire sheet from being edited by other people, you can lock the whole thing.

To do so. open up the sheet that you want to lock in Google Sheets, then click Data > Protected Sheets and Ranges.

Click Data  Protected Sheets and Ranges

Click the Add a sheet or rangeoption to begin to add the criteria to lock your sheet.

Press add a sheet or range

To begin locking the entire sheet, select the Sheettab.

Click Sheet

Press the Set Permissionsbutton.

Press Set Permissions

ChooseOnly youif you want to stop anyone else from editing the sheet, or Customto allow specific people to be able to edit it.

Select your sheet range edit permissions

If you choose Custom,select the people you want to be able to edit or add the names or email addresses into the Add Editorsbox.

Add names or email addresses into the range editing permissions box

ClickDoneto confirm your permissions and lock the sheet.

Your sheet will now be protectedonly you or the users you select will be able to edit the sheet moving forward.

Lock Specific Cells in Google Sheets

There may be situations where you want to allow people to edit your sheet, but you still want to protect specific cells. You might want to lock cells with complicated formulae, for instance.

To do so, open the sheet that you want to protect and highlight the cells you wish to lock. If you want to protect unconnected cells, youll need to repeat these steps for each range.

With your cells selected, right-click any of the selected cells, then click Protect range.

Click Protect Range

In theProtected sheets and rangespanel, you can name your cell range. This will help you keep track if you want to protect multiple ranges, but you can leave the name blank if you prefer.

Provide a name for your cell range

Press Set permissionsto apply the restrictions to your selected cells.

Press set permissions

As with the sheet locking, you can set the user permissions at the next stage. If you have other ranges of cells that you want to protect, repeat the steps above.

Lock an Entire Sheet Except for Specific Cells

If you have a large number of cells that you want to protect, leaving only a few unrestricted, then you can lock the whole sheet, except for a cell range.

Click onData > Protected Sheets and Rangesto begin.

Click on Add a sheet or rangeto select the cell range.

Press add a sheet or range

Select theSheettab.

Click Sheet

Press the Except certain cells checkbox to enable it.

You may find that this brings up the cell that you currently have highlighted in your sheet.

If this isnt one of the cells that you want to leave unlocked, then click on the Select data range icon and select the range you want to use instead.

Select your cell range

If you have multiple ranges you want to leave unprotected, press the Add another range button, then select additional cells.

When youve finished selecting your ranges, click OK to confirm, then the Setpermissions button.

Press set permissions

You can set the user permissions at the next stage. Your sheet will then be protected, with the exception of the cells youve selected.

Enable Soft Warnings for Cell Editing

If you dont want to lock cells, you can still give them a layer of protection by applying soft warnings. Google Sheets will alert you if you plan on editing your cells, but it wont restrict you if you choose to continue.

Select your cell range, then press Data > Protected Sheets and Ranges to begin. Once youve chosenRange orSheet, pressSet Permissions.

In theRange editing permissions window, chooseShow a warning when editing this range.

SelectShow a warning when editing this range

Press Doneto save.

With this warning applied, a pop-up alert will appear whenever you try to edit a protected cell, asking you if you wish to edit it.

Google Sheets protected cell warning

You can opt to turn off warnings for the next five minutespress theDont show this again for 5 minutes checkbox if you wish to enable this before pressingOK to make changes to the cell.

Clean Sheets

By locking cells in Google Sheets, you can stop other people from editing specific parts of your spreadsheet. This is particularly useful if you have cells that contain formulas or you only want people to access certain sections of the spreadsheet.

Another way to keep your spreadsheets looking smart is to hide the gridlines in Google Sheets, giving a page-like view to your data. If you want to share your documents with Excel users, dont forgetits possible to export Google Docs to Microsoft Office formatif you need to.

Related Items:Google, google sheets

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