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Excel 2020: Protect All Formula Cells

October 28, 2020 - by Bill Jelen

Excel Protect All Formula Cells. Photo Credit: Stéphan Valentin at

The use of worksheet protection in Excel is a little strange. Using the steps below, you can quickly protect just the formula cells in your worksheet.

It seems unusual, but all 16 billion cells on a worksheet start out with their Locked property set to True. You need to unlock all of the cells first:

  1. Select all cells by using the icon above and to the left of cell A1.
  2. Press Ctrl+1 (that is the number 1) to open the Format Cells dialog.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog, go to the Protection tab. Uncheck Locked. Click OK.
Select all cells and change the Locked property to off.

While all cells are still selected, select Home, Find & Select, Formulas.

At this point, only the formula cells are selected. Press Ctrl+1 again to display the Format Cells dialog. On the Protection tab, choose Locked to lock all of the formula cells.

With only the formula cells selected, set Locked property to On.

Locking cells does nothing until you protect the worksheet. On the Review tab, choose Protect Sheet. In the Protect Sheet dialog, choose if you want people to be able to select your formula cells or not.


Scroll down a few rows in the Protect Sheet dialog box to reveal popular choices: Use AutoFilter and Use PivotTable & PivotChart. If you want allow people to interact with these features, scroll down and select them.


Don’t bother putting in a password. Passwords are easily broken and easily lost. You will find yourself paying $39 to the Estonians who sell the Office password-cracking software.

Use the Protect Sheet icon on the Review tab. You can choose what people can do to a protected sheet. In this screenshot, only Select Unlocked Cells is available.

Title Photo: Stéphan Valentin at

This article is an excerpt from MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly.

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly

This is a 4th edition of MrExcel LX. Updates for 2020 include: Ask a question about your data, XLOOKUP, Power Query's Data Profiling tools, How Geography Data Types decide which Madison, A SEQUENCE example for descending 52 weeks, Exchange Rates support in Stock Data Types, How to collapse the Search box, How to leave effective feedback for Microsoft, How to post your worksheet to the MrExcel Board using XL2BB.