How To Unprotect Google Sheets

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to unprotect Google Sheets.

Do you have a Google Sheet with personal data in that you’ve locked down to keep private?

Or maybe you are working on a spreadsheet and need to share it with someone, but don’t want to give them full access.

If so, follow these simple steps to unprotect it. This way, no one but you will be able to edit the spreadsheet.

In these cases, you want to remove protection from Google Sheets.

(Note: unprotecting a Google Sheet does not make it publicly available – only people with the link to the sheet can view or edit it.)

How to Unlock Google Sheets

Protecting sheets and ranges in Google Sheets is a great way to prevent users from inadvertently making edits to those portions of the spreadsheet.

But sometimes you may find that these protections stop users from making necessary changes to the spreadsheet.

A spreadsheet with too many protections can become impossible to use, so often it’s necessary to remove some or all protections to continue working

Fortunately, removing protections in Google Sheets is quick and easy.

The only potential challenge is that you must be logged into an account which can edit that protected range in order to remove it.

If you aren’t sure what accounts have this access, you can always contact the spreadsheet owner and ask them to remove the protection. Spreadsheet owners are able to edit and remove all protected ranges

Adding Editors to a Protected Range (in 7 Steps)

Before jumping directly to removing protection in Google sheets, it’s important to consider if adding editors to that range might be a better option.

This gives certain users access to edit the protected range without deleting the protection and can be useful if there are still certain users who should not be able to edit that range.

Here’s how to add a user to a protected range:

Step 1

Open the spreadsheet using an account that can edit the protected range, such as the spreadsheet owner’s account

Step 2

Open the Data menu and click on Protected Sheets and Ranges:

Step 3

From the Protected Sheets & Ranges sidebar that appears, click on the protected range you want to edit

Step 4

Click on the Change Permissions button:

Step 5

In the Range Editing Permissions dialog, under Restrict Who Can Edit this Range, choose the Custom option if it is not already selected

Step 6

A list of spreadsheet editors will appear with checkboxes beside each to grant that user edit permissions to that range.

Click the checkbox beside the user you want to add:

 

Step 7

Click Done to close the dialog when you’ve added all desired editors.

The added users will now be able to edit the protected range

Removing Protected Ranges (in 5 Steps)

What if adding editors to a protected range is not enough to allow the required edits?

Or what if you find that you’ve granted all users edit access so the protected range no longer provides any protection?

Here’s how to unlock Google Sheets protected ranges:

Step 1

Open the Protected Sheets and Ranges sidebar following instructions above

Step 2

Click on the range you want to delete

Step 3

Beside the name of the range, a trash can icon will appear. Click on it

Step 4

In the popup that appears, click Remove to proceed with unprotecting the range

Step 5

The range is now unprotected and anyone who can edit the spreadsheet can edit this range

FAQs (about unprotecting spreadsheets)

Here’s some frequently asked questions related protected spreadsheets and how to unlock Google Sheets:

Can I password protect a Google sheet?

Unfortunately not. Google Sheets does not have an in-built password protection function to secure your data. 

However, there is a workaround:

You can password-protect your Google Sheets using a third-party tool called Skipser. 

Read more: How To Password Protect Google Sheets

How do I protect a spreadsheet in Google Sheets?

Here are some tips to make your account more secure:

  • Add or update account recovery options.
  • Remove risky access to your data
  • Turn on screen locks
  • Update your browser
  • Update your operating system
  • Update your apps
  • Manage your passwords (and use a secure password manager)

How do I share Google sheets but not allow editing?

Open sharing settings for the sheet by clicking the Share button and set the access level you need:

  • Viewer – Anyone on the internet with the link can view
  • Commenter – Anyone on the internet with the link can comment
  • Editor – Anyone on the internet with the link can edit

Can you hide a sheet in Google Sheets from certain users?

You can indeed hide stuff from specific users.

Here’s how:

  • Under the “Protected sheets and ranges” box, select “Sheet.”
  • Choose the tab to protect from the drop-down
  • Click on “Set permissions
  • Select “Restrict who can edit this range” and choose “Only you” from the down arrow.

Read more: How To Hide Tab From Certain Users in Google Sheets

Summary

Example Spreadsheet: Make a copy of the example spreadsheet

In this tutorial, I covered how to unprotect Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.

More ways to protect cells in Google Sheets: