In this digital era, files are an important aspect of our life. However, there are times when we forget the password to unlock certain files, or we come across files that are locked with a password. In this article, we will discuss how to unlock password-protected Excel files, as well as other types of files.

How to Unlock Password-Protected Excel Files

Excel files are often used for financial records, analysis, and other important data. Hence, it is not uncommon for Excel files to be locked with a password for security reasons. If you forget your password or you receive a password-protected Excel file from someone else, there are a few methods you can use to unlock it.

1. Using the ZIP Method

This method involves changing the Excel file extension to a ZIP file and then extracting the XML files that contain the information. Note that this method only works if the Excel file format is .xlsx or .xlsm.

  1. Change the file extension from .xlsx or .xlsm to .zip.
  2. Right-click on the file and select “Extract All”.
  3. Open the extracted folder and navigate to “xl” folder. Inside the “xl” folder, you will find a folder named “worksheets”.
  4. Open the “worksheets” folder and you will see XML files for each worksheet in the Excel file.
  5. Open the XML file using a text editor, such as Notepad.
  6. Look for the line of code that says “sheetProtection password=””.
  7. Delete the “password” value between the quotation marks and save the file.
  8. Change the file extension back to .xlsx or .xlsm.
  9. Try to open the Excel file and you should be able to access it without a password.

However, this method only removes the password from the worksheet protection and not the workbook protection. In other words, if the entire Excel file is protected with a password, this method will not work.

2. Using VBA Code

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is a programming language used in Microsoft Office applications, including Excel. You can use VBA code to unlock password-protected Excel files. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Excel file that is locked with a password.
  2. Press ALT + F11 to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.
  3. Click on “Insert” and then select “Module”.
  4. Paste the following code in the blank space:
  5. Sub PasswordBreaker()
    'Breaks worksheet password protection.
    Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer
    Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer
    Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer
    Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer
    On Error Resume Next
    For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66
    For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66
    For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66
    For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126

    ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _
    Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _
    Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
    If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
    MsgBox "One usable password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _
    Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _
    Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
    Exit Sub
    End If
    Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
    Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
    End Sub

  6. Click on “File” and then select “Save”.
  7. Press F5 or click on the “Play” button to execute the code.
  8. If the code works, a dialog box will appear showing the password that has been found.

Note that this method may take a few minutes to run, depending on the complexity of the password.

How to Unlock Other Types of Locked Files

Aside from Excel files, there are other types of files that may be locked with a password. Here are some methods you can use to unlock these files.

1. Using a Third-Party Software

There are many third-party software programs available that can unlock password-protected files. These programs use various techniques, such as brute-force attacks or dictionary attacks, to crack the password. Examples of popular password recovery software include PassFab, Password Genius, and iSunshare Excel Password Genius.

However, it is important to note that using third-party software can be risky. Some programs may contain malware or viruses that can harm your computer. Hence, it is recommended to do thorough research before downloading and installing any password recovery software.

2. Using an Online Tool

There are many online tools available that can unlock password-protected files. These tools work by uploading the locked file to their server, where it is decrypted and then sent back to you. Examples of popular online tools include Unlock PDF, PDF Decrypter, and OnlineZipConverter.

However, similar to using third-party software, using online tools can also be risky. Uploading your sensitive files to an unknown server can pose a security threat. Hence, it is recommended to only use reputable online tools that have good reviews and ratings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Is it legal to use methods to unlock password-protected files?

Unlocking password-protected files that you own or have permission to access is legal. However, attempting to unlock files that you do not have permission to access is illegal and can result in criminal charges.

Q2: Will unlocking password-protected files erase the original data?

No, unlocking password-protected files does not erase the original data. However, some methods may slightly modify the file, such as changing the file extension or removing the password protection code from the XML file. Hence, it is recommended to create a backup of your locked files before attempting any unlocking methods.


Locked files can be a frustrating aspect of digital life. However, there are various methods you can use to unlock password-protected Excel files and other types of locked files, including using the ZIP method, VBA code, third-party software, and online tools. It is important to always use caution when attempting to unlock files and to do thorough research before using any software or online tools. By following the methods discussed in this article, you can effectively unlock your password-protected files and access the important data within.

Video Tutorial: How to Unlock Password-Protected Excel Files