Learning how to lock columns in Excel allows users to enter or edit information into all other cells except for those which have been locked. Hiding or locking cells has no effect at all on the worksheet until you protect the worksheet. Our Excel classes offer a tutorial on how to do this. Just continue reading the content below.
When sharing projects amongst several team members, sometimes it is necessary to lock certain cells within the worksheet to ensure the data isn’t deleted or changed. When the worksheet is shared, the team member will be able to adjust all unlocked cells, but the locked cells will remain the same. This is a valuable skill to have as you progress through your Excel training.
While you can learn how to lock columns in Excel in Excel classes, it is fairly simple.
If the worksheet has already been protected, the first step is to unprotect it by clicking the review tab within the ribbon and selecting unprotect sheet. You may have to enter a password if the worksheet was protected with one originally. We have covered this subject in another Excel course article.
1. Select the whole worksheet by clicking on the select all arrow in the top left of the worksheet (highlighted in picture above).
2. Right click anywhere and select format cells from the menu options. Or, from the home tab, click the small arrow at the bottom right of the font box or you can simply enter (control + shift + F) to have the format cells box open.
3. In the protection tab of the format cells box, uncheck lock cells and click OK to complete unlock all cells within the worksheet so you can designate the specific cells within the worksheet that you want to lock.
4. Now back on the worksheet select the column(s) that you would like to lock. Open the format cells box again and this time click to put a check-mark back in the locked checkbox.
5. Go back to the review tab and select protect this worksheet.
6. A dialogue box will pop-up asking if you would like to password protect the worksheet. There are numerous elements that you can either allow or disallow users to do within the worksheet. The first two elements are selected by default:
a. Select lock cells – allows users to select cells that are locked but does not allow changes or deletion
b. Select unlock cells – allow users to select and make changes within all unlocked cells.
c. All other elements are in relation to formatting, sorting, inserting/deleting columns and rows and are not selected by default.
Once you click OK the worksheet will now be protected.
7. If someone attempts to make changes into a locked cell the following message will pop-up on the screen.
To unlock columns, you will need to begin by unprotecting the sheet under the Review tab. Select the column you have locked and bring up the format cells box. Under the protection tab once again unclick the locked checkbox. This is fairly similar to the process of password-protecting a workbook or sheet, as outlined in a previous Excel tutorial.
Learning how to unlock columns in Excel could also be beneficial at a networking event where each member could enter their information into a worksheet as shown to the left. Column A could be locked in place to ensure that no changes are made, even though members could easily enter their information under each column.
Excel Classes Will Hone Your Column Management Skills
Locking and unlocking columns are pretty important features if you have any columns that do not regularly need to be updated. Our Excel classes can teach you the finer points of these concepts if the above Excel tutorial is not descriptive enough for you.