How to Protect / Lock Cells in Google Sheets

How to Protect / Lock Cells in Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a web-based spreadsheet program that allows real-time collaboration. Since other people in your team can access the document, you may need to lock specific cells. Do you know how to lock cells in Google Sheets?

Locking cells is useful to protect your data and prevent other users from making changes to important data. Does Google Sheets have a feature to lock specific cells or entire sheets? If you are newcomers who are lacking information about this program, read on to see what it offers.

Can You Lock Cells in Google Sheets?

It is good to know that Google Sheets allows users to easily lock specific cells or entire sheets. This feature helps secure your data because other people in your team cannot make any changes to the locked cells.

In a collaborative work, chances are that some people may accidentally delete or edit the content. There is also a high chance someone change the formula on the sheet. To prevent an unprecedented effect, you may need to lock the cells in order that only specific people can make the changes.

Google Sheets lets you lock either specific cells or entire sheets. You can also give edit permission to selected people so only people you trust can edit the content.

How to Lock Cells in Google Sheets from Editing

Just in case you have crucial data in Google Sheets document, lock cells is a good decision so that no one in your team can make changes. In this situation, you let other people to edit the sheet but still keep specific cells protected. Luckily, how to lock cells in Google Sheets is simple and easy. 

Here is how to do it:

  • Go to Google Sheets and open a document you wish to protect.
  • Find cells you want to protect and select it. Right click the selected cells, choose Protect range.

Choose Protect range

  • In the Protected sheets and ranges panel, click Add a sheet or range
  • Enter a description of the range if desired. You can also leave it blank.
  • Under Range option, you will see the selected cell.
  • Click Set permissions.

Click Set permissions

  • A Range editing permissions window will appear. Decide who can edit this range, either Only you or Custom.

Decide who can edit this range

  • Click Done.

Now the selected cell is locked. If you choose Only you on range editing permissions, no one will be able to edit the cell. If anyone in your team try to edit the cell, they will receive a dialog box saying that the locked cells cannot be accessed without permission.

Just in case you want to give edit permission to selected people, select Custom in a Range editing permissions window. You will be prompted to enter names or email address of the editor, then click Done.

How to Lock Entire Sheets in Google Sheets

If you want to share a spreadsheet document with your team but don’t allow them to make any changes, Google Sheets lets you lock entire sheets. Just as with the previous lock option, you can choose to keep it protected from everyone or give access to some people.

Follow instructions below to lock entire sheets in Google Sheets:

  • Go to Google Sheets and open the spreadsheet you want to lock.
  • Right click on the sheet tab, choose Protect sheet.

Decide who can edit this range

  • This will open Protected sheets & ranges pane. You can enter a description, but this is optional. Under the Sheet tab, you will see the name of the sheet you are going to lock.
  • If you want to keep certain cells accessible, put a tick in the box to the left of Except certain cells.

put a tick in the box to the left of Except certain cells

  • Click Set permissions.
  • Set editing permissions by choosing Only you or Custom.

Set editing permissions by choosing Only you or Custom

  • Click Done.

The sheet is now locked and only you can make any changes. Just as with how to lock cells in Google Sheets, you can also choose Custom in Range editing permissions. This means you give access to some people to edit the sheet.

Please note that you can also keep some cells unlocked. Other people can edit data and make changes in these cells because it is not protected. 

How to Unlock Protected Cells

You may be in a situation that cell protection is no longer needed. Thus, you can simply unlock protected cells and sheets. How to unlock cells in Google Sheets is completely simple. Only in a few steps, everyone in your team can access the document and change the data.

Here are steps to unlock cells and sheets:

  • Open Google Sheets document with the locked cells.
  • Click Data in the toolbar, choose Protected sheets and ranges. This will open a new pane on the right side of your screen.

Choose Protected sheets and ranges

  • You will see a list of all locked sheets and ranges. Select the protected cell or sheet you wish to unlock.
  • Click on a trashcan icon to delete protection.

Click on a trashcan icon to delete protection

  • Hit the Remove button in a confirmation window.

Hit Remove button in a confirmation window

Selected cells and sheets are unlocked. Your team will be able to access the documents without any restrictions so they can edit the data. This is a great way to collaborate with multiple people.

Warning Messages

Google Sheets shows a warning message when someone edits the sheet. This is especially useful if you allow specific people to collaborate in the same document. Selected people will have the access to edit the sheet but they will be notified before making any changes.

This message doesn’t block selected people from editing the locked cells. But when they try to change the content, a message will pop up. This message will help remind the user that the locked cells must be handled carefully and that it shouldn’t be changed accidentally.

Other users can simply click OK when this message pops up. Users can also prevent this message from showing up by clicking Don’t show this again for 5 minutes. This action will allow them to edit the cell without seeing the message for the next 5 minutes.

To sum up, locking cells and entire sheets may be needed to protect the content or data because other people in your team cannot make changes. How to lock cells in Google Sheets is quite simple but it offers ultimate protection to your spreadsheet.

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