How to unprotect Excel sheet without password

If you prefer to watch the complete steps in a video, then visit this youtube link:

Below are the steps to unlock any Excel sheet if you forgot the password

If your file is .xls then save it as .xlsx if it doesn't have any macros or .xlsm if it has macros. Let us assume your file name is ProtectedWorkbook.xlsx


1. Rename your file by adding .zip to its extension. In our case we will rename it to be

2. Now open the zip file with windows or any program.

3. Browse to the path xl > worksheets folder

 unprotect excel sheet without password

4. You will find an xml file for each sheet. Extract the protected sheet xml file to your local drive. In our case, its name is sheet1.xml

5. Right click the extracted sheet1.xml file and select edit to open it in notepad or any other editing software.

6. Find an delete the text starting by <sheetProtection  and till the closing >. In other words, from the <sheetProtection till the first > occurrence.

unlock excel forgotten password

7. Save and close the sheet1.xml file

8. Return the edited sheet1.xml file to overwrite the original one in the zip folder.

9. Close the zip file

10. Rename the file by removing the .zip extension

Your sheet is now unprotected.


  • Simon

    How do you recompress to the zip after editing the XML?

  • Adam

    Use any text editor. It doesn’t matter

  • Tom

    Can I use Microsoft word to save the xml file?

  • Mark C.

    I had a file that was locked for almost 2 years because I forgot the password. It worked and I have full access now!

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