7 Ways to Freeze (& Un-Freeze) in Google Sheets

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Jake Sheridan

In this guide, you will learn all about freezing rows, columns and cells in Google Sheets.

This is a great way to keep your data organized and easy to read.

Below you will find a few different methods for freezing and locking cells, rows and columns in Google Sheets.

But first, a quick definition:

What does freeze mean in Google Sheets?

To freeze in Google Sheets simply means to pin data (in rows or columns) to the same place in your spreadsheet when you scroll.

Here’s an example of a frozen Google Sheet:

 

See how it fixes to the top of the window like a sticky nav, pretty cool right?

Actually, now that I think about it, a frozen column is NOT pretty cool and I’m sorry for even suggesting such a thing.

I’ve been doing too much spreadsheet work today…

7 Ways to Freeze in Google Sheets

Do you ever need to freeze a column or row in Google Sheets? Here are five ways to do so:

1. Freeze columns

Do you ever need to freeze a column in Google Sheets so that it stays fixed in one place? 

It’s pretty easy to do.

Here’s how to freeze columns in Google Sheets so they stay at the top while you scroll down:

Go to View, then select Freeze. You should see the following options:

  • No columns – shockingly, this option doesn’t freeze any columns.
  • 1 column – freezes just one column. 
  • 2 columns – freezes up to two columns
  • Up to current column – freeze up to your current selection

To freeze one or more columns in Google Sheets, just follow these steps:

Step 1

First, select the Google Sheets document where you want to freeze columns.

Step 2

A quick way to freeze columns is by adjusting the freeze panes in your document.

To adjust the freeze pane for columns, place your cursor above the vertical freeze pane line that appears to the left of the column letters.

Drag this line to the right to expand the freeze pane to one or more columns.

In the example above, we’ve expanded our freeze pane to cover the first column.

When scrolling left or right through your document, this frozen column will remain visible at all times.

Step 3

Another way to freeze columns is through the Freeze options under the View menu.

Select View > Freeze and select the number of columns you want to freeze in the current sheet.

In this example, we’ll freeze the first two columns by selecting the “2 columns” option.

Step 4

The selected number of columns in the current sheet will now be frozen.

Step 5

Another way to select the columns to freeze is by first selecting the column to freeze up to.

For example, we can select column D and click View > Freeze > Up to column D.

All columns before the selection will be frozen alongside the selected column.

2. Freeze a row using the Freeze panes

Do you have a long list of data that you need to keep track of, but don’t want to clutter up your sheet with extra rows?

Or maybe you are tired of having to scroll back up every time you need to reference a row.

Here’s how to freeze rows in Google Sheets so they stay at the top while you scroll down:

Go to View, then select Freeze. You should see the following options:

  • No rows – it shouldn’t be a surprise that this option doesn’t freeze any rows.
  • 1 row – freezes just one row. This is useful for creating simple headers. 
  • 2 rows – freezes up to two rows (both row 1 and 2). This is useful if you have merged cell headers.
  • Up to current row – freeze up to your current selection

Here’s a slightly different method (using the drag down feature) to freeze the top row:

Step 1

Open the Google Sheets document containing the row you want to freeze.

In this example, we’ll freeze the header row of a mailing address dataset.

Step 2

Place your cursor over the horizontal freeze pane line.

This should be the thick grey line that appears above the column numbers.

Drag the freeze pane until it’s right below the first row.

Alternatively, you can also  click on View > Freeze > 1 row.

Step 3

The top row of our spreadsheet should now be frozen.

When freezing rows, Google Sheets will always freeze the topmost rows. Since we only want to freeze the top row, we’ll select the 1 row option.

3. Freeze multiple rows using the Freeze panes

Here’s how you can freeze multiple rows using the Freeze panes

Step 1

Open the Google Sheets document where you want to freeze multiple rows.

In this example, we’ll freeze the first two rows of our table dataset.

Step 2

Place your cursor over the horizontal freeze pane line.

This should be the thick grey line that appears above the row numbers.

Step 3

Drag the freeze pane line down until it’s below the number of rows you want to freeze.

In our table above, we’ve placed our horizontal freeze pane line right after the second row.

This sets the first two rows as frozen. These rows will remain visible as the user scrolls up and down the spreadsheet.

4. Freeze specific rows in Google Sheets

Here’s how you can freeze a specific number of rows in Google Sheets using the Freeze option in the View menu.

Step 1

Open the Google Sheets document where you want to freeze specific rows.

Step 2

Next, select the row you want to freeze.

Note that all rows above the selected row will also be frozen.

Using the table above, we’ll select the heading row in the second row to freeze. Freezing this row will also make the first row freeze.

Step 3

In the View menu, select Freeze and choose the option labeled “Up to row…”.

Since we’ve selected the second row, we’ll select the “Up to row 2” option,

Step 4

All rows up to the selected row should now be frozen.

5. Lock a formula

Locking a formula is a bit different to freezing rows or columns.

However, both stop users from accidentally changing things in your carefully created spreadsheets.

After all, have you ever created a sheet with complex formulas, only to have someone accidentally change it and ruin all your hard work?

Or maybe you share your spreadsheet with others, and you don’t want them to be able to edit your formulas. 

Either way, here’s how to lock a formula in Google Sheets:

Select the cell or range containing the formula you want to lock.

Now go to Data and choose Protect Sheets and Ranges:

  • In the sidebar, click on Add a Sheet or Range
  • You can add a description if you want, then click on Set Permissions
  • Select Show Warning When Editing This Range and click Done

Any user attempting to edit the range will get a warning if they attempt to edit your formula.

6. Lock a row

A useful feature of Google Sheets is that you can lock a row so that it cannot be edited.

This can come in handy if you want to protect certain data from being changed. 

Here’s how to lock a row in Google Sheets:

Select the row you want to lock and go to Data, then Protect Sheets and Ranges:

  • In the sidebar, click on Add a Sheet or Range
  • Add a description if you want,
  • Click on Set Permissions
  • Select Show Warning When Editing This Range and click Done

7. Lock cells

In Google Sheets, you can lock cells to prevent other users from editing them.

This is a handy way to protect your data and ensure that it remains consistent across all worksheets. 

Here’s how to lock cells in Google Sheets:

Select the cell you want to lock and go to Data, then Protect Sheets and Ranges:

  • In the sidebar, click on Add a Sheet or Range
  • Add a description if you want,
  • Click on Set Permissions
  • Select Show Warning When Editing This Range and click Done

Help! Why can’t I freeze cells in Google Sheets?

Here’s how you can fix the issue where you can’t freeze rows or columns in a Google Sheets document.

Step 1

If you are unable to freeze rows or columns, it could be because the selection of rows or columns contains a part of a merged cell.

To allow freezing, you must first unmerge these cells or increase the number of columns or rows to freeze so that the entire merged cell is frozen.

In the example above, we will not be able to freeze column A and B on their own since cell A1 and B1 are part of a larger merged cell.

Step 2

We can unmerge the cell by selecting the cell and clicking the Unmerge option under the Merge icon in the quick access toolbar.

Once unmerged, we should now be able to freeze the selected number of columns we want.

Step 3

If the sheet tab is protected by the owner or another user with editing rights, you may not have the necessary permissions to make changes to the sheets.

This may include the ability to freeze rows or columns.

In the sample spreadsheet above, we are unable to freeze or unfreeze rows or columns because the current account does not have the right permissions to do so.

You can find protected sheets by looking for a lock icon next to the sheet tab name.

To resolve this, you must contact the sheet owner to either give you editing permission or to temporarily remove the sheet protection to allow you to freeze specific cells.

FAQs

Got questions? Here’s some frequently asked questions related to freezing and locking stuff in Google Sheets:

What does freeze do in Google Sheets?

Freezing a row or column keeps its data visible when you move the spreadsheet. This increases your spreadsheet’s readability, making your data more valuable.

How do I freeze an entire sheet in Google Sheets?

In Google Sheets, it’s not possible to freeze an entire sheet at once. Freezing is typically used to lock specific rows or columns in place while scrolling through other parts of your sheet. However, you can freeze rows or columns up to a certain point.

How do I freeze a formula in Google Sheets?

Here’s how you can freeze a formula in Google Sheets.

Step 1

Select the formula you want to freeze. This may be a formula that you wish to copy the formula to multiple cells without changing the formula itself.

In our example above, we have a cell with the formula =SQRT(B1). If we try to copy this formula and paste it elsewhere in the sheet, we may encounter a different result because the cell reference to B1 has changed based on the relative position.

Step 2

In your formula, you’ll need to change the cell references to absolute references. You can do this by adding dollar signs ($) before the column letter and the row number.

In our example, we’ve converted our cell reference from B1 to $B$1. Now when we try copying the formula elsewhere, the results will be the same each time.

This method comes in handy when you have certain constants or specific cells (like a cell containing a tax rate or a unit price) that you need to refer to across various calculations in your sheet.

Why would you want to freeze rows in your Google Sheet?

If you have a huge dataset that requires frequent scrolling, you may want to freeze/lock rows in Google Sheets. Freezing rows at the top would keep them visible so you never forget which column represents which measurement.

Can I freeze multiple rows in Google Sheets?

Yes you can. To do, just go to Google Sheets’ main menu then click “View” and Choose “Freeze.” Then select the rows to freeze from the drop-down.

How do you freeze multiple columns?

To freeze multiple columns in your sheet, choose the column to the right of the last one, then click View > Freeze Panes.

Summary

Hopefully this guide has given you an overview of freezing rows, columns and cells in Google Sheets.

What’s Next?

Explore some of the other useful resources on Sheets for Marketers: