I’m the one who handles lots of Excel files on a daily basis, so it is not uncommon to encounter these password-protected Excel worksheets. Most of the time, it is your careless colleague who password protects the file and then forgets the damn password. Anyways, I know a simple hack to remove password from an Excel worksheet (it will not work on an Excel workbook). Please note that it will only help you unprotect the cells of an Excel worksheet protected using the ‘Protect Sheet’ feature of Microsoft Excel software.
You don’t have to download any software for that. But before trying that, please do make a copy of your spreadsheet so that you won’t lose your file and its content if anything bad happens. This is how it works:
1. Rename your password protected Excel spreadsheet from “.xlsx” to “.zip.”
2. Open the ZIP file in any free file compression software you have on your computer like WinZip or 7-Zip.
3. Find the “XL” folder, and then double click on “worksheets” folder. Inside the “worksheets” folder, you will see all your worksheets that were inside your spreadsheet/Excel file. They’ll be like sheet1.xml, sheet2.xml and so on.
4. Now open your password protected Worksheet in Notepad and search for the line that begins with: “<sheetProtection algorithmName=”SHA-512″ hashValue=
." It will look something like this:
<sheetProtection algorithmName=”SHA-512″ hashValue=”y9RyFM+j9Hdf4J3IFFhsHo3q1kQkuLydpJlLh2mdvfvk15He/Yps8xizWt/XkAJ//g+TyqgcU+8o1QBjQvKDqIzg==” saltValue=”87YXDPnVjawU5s1nGyT8fQ==” spinCount=”100000″ sheet=”1″ objects=”1″ scenarios=”1″/>
5. You need to select this entire line – everything between and including the “<” and “>” characters and delete it.
6. Now you can save your modified XML/Worksheet. Remember – you need to repeat this process with every protected XML/Worksheet that is inside your spreadsheet and save the changes.
7. Now rename your Excel file from .zip to .xlsx and you are done.
This is a pretty old hack, but it still works. Only exception is some Excel worksheets protected with Excel for Microsoft Office 2019 and 365. I observed that this trick no longer works with the Excel files protected with the latest versions of Microsoft Excel. Also, you cannot use it to crack the “Open” password that is required to open an Excel file. If you are looking to remove password restrictions from an Excel file where this trick is no longer working or you need to remove the “Open” password from an Excel file, then you will have to use some professional Excel password recovery app like the one mentioned here in this article. They offer some advanced decryption methods like dictionary attack (where the program uses a dictionary which contains millions of the most commonly used passwords), combination attack and brute force attack which makes it possible to crack even the Open password.
I personally tried the same to find the open password of a protected an Excel spreadsheet once and it did work. I had no clue about the password so I selected the brute force attack. The program kept running in the background and finally showed me the password after like 18 hours. I wouldn’t say it was pretty convenient, but it did the job. It shouldn’t take so long if you choose the other modes like “Dictionary Attack” or “Mask Attack.” On the other hand, if you just want to use these apps to remove edit, copy, print or other restrictions from an Excel file, then it wouldn’t take more than 10 seconds. Passfab and Recoverit are some other similar tools that claims to remove both restriction and open password from an Excel file.
The only disadvantage of using these tools is that the trial version of these tools will show you the first few characters of a password. It can be still useful in a few situations like when you forget your own password. You can easily guess it by looking the first few characters. Most of the answers here were outdated so thought of adding one. Cheers!
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