How to make a workbook read only in Excel

We have already seen how to How to make a presentation read only in Power Point. Similarly an excel workbook can be made read only using Excel Options. Listed below are the steps to make a workbook read only in Excel 2013 and Excel 2010

Click on the File menu –> Info menu

Protect Workbook in Excel 2013 and Excel 2010

Click on the Protect Workbook drop down arrow. This would display the following menu list

Mark workbook as final in Excel 2013 and Excel 2010

Click on the Mark as Final menu, the following dialog box would appear.


On selecting OK button the following confirmation box will be displayed.

Warning message when workbook marked as final in edited

By this way you can make an workbook in excel 2010 read only and prevent users from making any changes to the file.

Also See: Different ways to protect workbook in Excel 2013

In Category: Excel 2010, Excel 2013, MS Office

Ravi Shankar

A Software developer and blogger who is always looking to provide technical help to the wider community.

Show 40 Comments
  • Rosie December 10, 2010, 9:02 pm

    Yes – but the spreadsheet still opens with the option to ‘edit anyway’. How do you make it ‘Read Only’, with a password required to edit?

  • Angel March 4, 2011, 3:15 am

    You may have found your answer already but you can select “Protect current sheet” or “Protect workbook structure” to add a password to prevent people from editing without proper credentials.

  • David Harries April 11, 2011, 5:04 pm

    I am stuck with saving my latest work books as ‘read-only’ even tho’ I do not want to. I have to save as Copy of and Copy of Copy of. I can’t get out of this. It is ridiculous!

  • Jason Niemi June 11, 2011, 12:24 am

    If you use this setting and have subtotals as part of your sheet, you cannot expand and collapse the subtotals. Unfortunately, that renders this setting useless for me.

  • Yayo July 7, 2011, 6:24 pm

    This is actually downgrade of the previous version.
    I want to the old sec. settings back!

  • Markus November 9, 2011, 4:49 pm

    This new system of protecting your workbook e.g. making it a read only is ridiculous.

  • Jannine November 15, 2011, 9:27 am

    I now have 2 excel spreadsheets i work from everyday, adding to them both and making them available to other work colleagues. One was created with 2007 (read only-perfect) and the latest with 2010 which i have to lock so nothing happens to it. Why change something for ‘the better’ when it was perfect the way it was? This new system is, as Markus says, ridiculous.

  • Chris January 11, 2012, 5:48 pm

    You can still set a workbook with a read-only password in the traditional way in Excel 2010 – go to Save as, Tools, General options…

  • STEVEN January 11, 2012, 10:32 pm

    If you select Save as, a dialog box opens and you know the rest. There is no “tools”. Please be more explicite.

  • cindy January 13, 2012, 3:00 pm

    yes, it’s possible!!! Difficult to find, but possible!
    When you select save as, there is effectively a “tools” box, in the lower-left corner. then what you have to do is go to “general option” and put a password to protect your document!

  • Kevin January 21, 2012, 5:47 am

    Found Cindy’s solution. I knew I’d seen it before, but couldn’t find it again today. There may be a few things better in 2010, but there are 10x as many items that have been made worse, or harder to use. 2003 was a lot easier to use and didn’t require constantly clicking to the ribbon you actually need. Everything seems to take 5 clicks now instead of 1 or 2 before.

    And isn’t “help” in 2010 supposed to be helpful? There’s nothing more useless than Microsoft’s help.

  • mark January 23, 2012, 1:56 am

    thank you cindy you’ve made an old man very happy

  • Dana January 28, 2012, 4:33 am

    I may have missed the answer, but I do NOT want this brand new spreadsheet I created today to be read only. I did not set it as a final version, I did not give it a password, I did not protect it in any way and yet it keeps making me save it with a new name. How do I turn this off?

  • kittu January 30, 2012, 10:33 am

    How can give a coulour as a logic value.? I.e, to get a count, which are filled with a specific color.Please let me know…

  • Jacqueline February 1, 2012, 11:37 pm

    I’m also frustraded with my workbook defaulting as read only and have the same question as Dana. How do I make my spreadsheet editable to others without it being renamed? When I go into File tab, it shows the permissions as anyone can change it. But it forces them to resave with a new name.

  • Billy February 7, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Hi Cindy,

    Thank You. Your method is the best


  • Jean-Marie Sohier May 30, 2012, 6:36 pm

    Same problems. Bought at high cost Office 2010, for PC, downloaded. Had to buy second copy for my portable PC ! ! !
    Never has a migration been so hard to lose so much and gain so little (I haven’t found anything positive yet apart from joining the herd, but let us still believe there might be some progress).
    I cannot open my Access databases. My word and Excel open as read-only… Transferred all data on new PC. Saw nothing worked. Thanked God I still had old PC with XP and Office 2000, which became again “production”, while new PC is still demoted as “test environment”. For how long?

    Next stop Linux, free software or Apple. Why does Microsoft shoot itself in the foot, and us in the back, like this ? Hate them now. That plus the abysmal partnership between Bill Gates and Monsanto who forces Roundup down the planet’s tummies, pollutes our land with its seeds and highjacks intellectual rights on seeds !!!!!

    G G G R R R R R R R R ! ! ! !

  • Donna Gaffaney July 18, 2012, 2:37 am

    I want to change my excel page from read only so that I can print it.

  • Edward July 18, 2012, 8:37 pm

    Good Morning,

    If you want to password protect your spreadsheet while still being able to have others view it as read only do the following:

    Open your current Excel Spreadsheet, go to file: Save As. This is going to cause a pop-up window to open. In the lower left hand corner of this window you will see a tools option. Click the drop down menu and select “General Options”. This will cause another pop up window to open, check the box that says “Password to Modify” key in your desired password, then key it in once more and save the spreadsheet. Reopen the spreadsheet, and now you will have the coveted read only function and a password to edit.

  • Jake September 27, 2012, 6:35 pm

    Edward – you are a star!!
    Works perfectly. :o))

  • Errol October 5, 2012, 11:49 am

    Edward I have tried multiple times using the procedure you outline before reading your article. My comment is that it does essentially do so but there is one thing I do not like.
    It allows data to be changed but not saved apart from allocating a new file name.
    This would be much better if it was similar to a protected sheet where an attempt to change a protectred cell would bring up a warning immediately.
    What do you think.

  • Arthur December 13, 2012, 8:45 pm

    I have tried a lot of the above suggestions. I have a Spreadsheet on a Shared Drive that I want everyone to have Read Only Access. I need to be able to edit the spreadsheet and so does one other person. When I open the spreadsheet I am prompted for a password or I can select to Read Only. When I try this on any other computer it opens the spreadsheet without giving the option to edit with a password. It goes straight to Read Only and does not allow editing or saving. Please help!!!

  • Ron Powell March 1, 2013, 6:06 am

    I want to password protect an Excel 2010 workbook as read only but allow certain users to be able to edit the worksheets. How do I achieve this? Please help.

  • Anand Vasudeva March 27, 2013, 12:01 am

    Ron Powell – Open an XL – Try Save as option – Once a dialog box opens up to save it in a particular folder of your choice – you can see Tools button in the lower left hand corner (It is available in Windows for all versions of XL) – Click on Tools – Then click on General options and type password for modify and retype password for modify – Save it in a location of your choice – You are all set ——-

  • Mike July 31, 2013, 3:22 pm

    January 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Perfect!! This is what i was looking for, good old fashioned ‘Read only’ access.

  • Lakkanna August 28, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Great !!!

  • Jess November 20, 2013, 4:37 am

    I have to type this, simply for my sanity…
    Kevin, dude, I so feel your pain. Office 2010 is absolutely incompetent, inefficient and stupid beyond stupidness. It is the worst thing to happen to me, and that includes my divorce. Microsoft can’t possibly be an ISO certified company as there is clearly no way that they can claim, based on the increasingly awful products they put out, that they are fulfilling their requirement to “continually improve”. Unless, perhaps, their ISO auditor has been living under a rock for 20+ years and was drunk while conducting their audit. Maybe I’m overly judgmental (though I doubt it) but it has become obvious to me that Microsoft is programmed and managed by people who must certainly be dangerously inebriated.
    But all I really know is that I want what those Microsoft programmers are having, and make it a double cuz I’m beginning to feel like I’m the only sober one left. (sigh) It boggles my sober mind that Microsoft is even in business.

  • Jess November 20, 2013, 5:14 am

    Hello all. FYI… Cindy’s instructions only work to a point and same goes for the instructions at the top of this page. The Excel booklet/sheet is not actually accessible in Read Only format (*without* entering a password) if you follow either of those sets of steps. If you follow either of those sets of steps, when you go to open the workbook/sheet it REQUIRES the password and does NOT offer a Read Only option. YES… I DID check the “read only recommended” box. NO… I swear I am not high on anything right now (though I am beginning to wish I was). This is completely insane. Why is my version different than yours? Why is my outcome different than yours? This makes no sense. Does ANYONE know how to password protect 2010 docs so that people have the ***option*** of “Read Only” and the option to enter the password? Please, I beg you, test and confirm steps before posting solutions. If you have to enter a password to open the document then you have not successfully set the document up for Read Only access. I want people to be able to open, look-at and print the documents but not change them. I just know that I am not the only being on the planet who wants to do this. Sheesh! Why was doing this so incredibly easy in 2003 and so seemingly impossible, now, in the 2010 version?

  • Rshalf November 20, 2013, 5:47 am

    This is what I want to do: I want my workbook to be read only for 15 people in my organization and to be editable for only 2. So I want to have most people open it as read only and two of us use a password to edit the same spreadsheet. We add names monthly, so I will never have a “final copy.” Your explanation says that I can only have a “final copy.” My Mac version will let me do this. Can I do it with Microsoft?

  • Stephanie Davies January 22, 2014, 9:09 pm

    Thanks for the details above, this worked perfectly for me. Please can anyone advise if I make changes and save them down, will this update the data in the read-only versions or will the users have to re-open the file to keep checking for changes? Any way the read-only versions can be updated automatically or the users can be advised the changes have been made and to refresh?

  • arcog February 25, 2014, 2:22 am

    To make an Excel 2010 file “Rad Only” in the useful-traditional way(..these kind of issues make you understand why Microsoft hasn’t been able to keep up with the tech firms…) just RIGHT CLICK the file name, go to PROPERTIES, and click on READ ONLY and APPLY.

  • Signi April 25, 2014, 9:26 pm

    How do you unprotect a document from read only that exists from a previous employee who is no longer here? thanks.

  • Ravi Shankar April 25, 2014, 9:52 pm
  • Trang Houston July 21, 2014, 8:34 pm

    To enable password protected Excel opened as READ ONLY in Excel 2010:

    1. Click File > Save As
    2. Click on button Tool > General Options at bottom of Save As window
    3. Specify what you want:
    ??Password to open
    Password to modify
    Read Only Recommended

  • Ssor December 5, 2014, 3:47 am

    I’m looking for some help virtually identical to the question posed by Rshalf above. I need for approx 20 users to be able to read-only a workbook but to allow only 2 users to make changes to the workbook. One of the those 2 users makes changes with no problem that everyone is able to see but the second user’s changes are only seen on his workbook.
    I’m grateful for any suggestions

  • Carolyn March 23, 2015, 10:11 pm

    I use a company shared website to upload/edit excel spreadsheets. It worked fine when I first used it andcould edit and save the spreadsheets with no problem. About 6 months ago this changed, even if I select edit workbook it still opens as read only. I am having to save it on my hard drive and upload everytime which gets confusing for all the other users on the company website. Please help!

  • Ravi Shankar March 24, 2015, 7:58 am

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