I created an Excel spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel 2013 with password protected cells (only particular cells. Other cells can be edited).

When I open this spreadsheet in Google spreadsheet, I am able to edit all the fields which are password protected.

How do I maintain the protection from Excel to a Google spreadsheet?

  • can you explain the scenario in bit more detail. Using which software you created the excel sheet and how you opened in google docs??
    – Jor-el
    Nov 20, 2014 at 7:17
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    This sounds like it belongs on SuperUser as it is an Excel question, not an information security question as defined by the site scope.
    – dotancohen
    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:00
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    It sounds more like a webapplications question, as this is about Google Docs not properly handling Excel passwords.
    – SPRBRN
    Nov 20, 2014 at 12:55
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    I'd say this does belong here...this is a good reminder that password protection is ineffective without being paired with another control (encryption for example) that prevents the password being bypassed.
    – R15
    Nov 20, 2014 at 13:07
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    @R15 Just because a situation has security implications does not mean that it's a valid question here. This is inherently a Google Docs usage question. "How do I in X software?" tends to be a good indication that it's going to be closed. "Why?" and "What are the implications?" tend to be better.
    – schroeder
    Nov 20, 2014 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


You can't. The password protection is only designed to prevent edits by mistake. This is a type of DRM protection, where you use rules to decide who can read or write to data.

If you open the file with a software which does not care about the rules, the password protection will be bypassed. Thats why Adobe have encryption so if you protect your document against Printing, then Adobe encrypts the document so it cannot be opened with anything else than Adobe.

I guess you created a form in Excel, and you want to be able to give out this form to untrusted people to fill in without they being able to change the form itself. I would then suggest using Google Forms to create your application instead. You can use DocAppender or such addons to create documents out of the applicants replies.

  • Thanks a lot @sebastian. But check my below comments... I've created this (Microsoft's) excel, through my application which has developed through .Net framework. I am created this excel sheet to give untrusted people where they should not edit which I've populated. When I open (or import) to google spreadsheet, I can edit the existing data.. Please check manually. That's also possible. Please give solution.
    – Jeeva Jsb
    Nov 20, 2014 at 8:35
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    @JeevaJsb In the scenario that you mention, what prevents people from just generating an excel sheet of their own that looks like yours, and then changing whatever they want? Or rather if you're not worried about this, then why are you worried about people changing the original form?
    – domen
    Nov 20, 2014 at 9:46
  • Protecting cells in Google Spreadsheet can be very useful when you share a document, and let somebody work on data to produce results, and you want to be sure that the original data is not tampered with. Yes that person can copy all data, but that's not a problem. You just want to make sure he doesn't modify those values in your document. We have used this in the past for translating text, to make sure the original text was not modified.
    – SPRBRN
    Nov 20, 2014 at 12:48

Microsoft's own guidance on password protection of worksheets in Excel 2013 includes:

Remember, though, that this type of protection doesn't encrypt your files. Users can still use third-party tools to read your data.

Also to note that password protection in Excel 2013 is different to earlier versions of Excel, if you save a workbook in the earlier non-XML format (i.e. .xls) it will remove the password.

The evidence suggests that Google Spreadsheet (like the earlier versions of Excel) does not support the Excel 2013 standard for password protection, so the answer to your question looks unfortunately like it can't (currently) be done.

I do not know Google Spreadsheet, but to achieve what you want, it does look like you will need to use whatever controls are available in that application.

And for avoidance of doubt relying on such a control for something critical would be unwise, but given the scenario you are trying to achieve it does seem like a sensible level of protection to apply.


So you protect cells with a password, then close that document, upload it to Google Docs, and Google removed the password protection just like that? If that's the case, the password protection is not really that solid. If you had to enter the password, you know why.

Google does simply not provide 100% identical import. Some functions may be lost. If you need that, use Office 365. If you want to keep using Google Docs for this, protect the cells manually, and hope that Google will soon handle protected cells as well.

  • Thanks @SPRBRN, you've understood correctly what I conveyed. My purpose is not about what the software i need to use. When I lock the cells and give it to user, they may use different software to read that.. One of my user used google spreadsheet to read the document. So it becomes unprotected without asking password. So I want to resolve this issue.
    – Jeeva Jsb
    Nov 21, 2014 at 5:50

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