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VBA code to Protect and Unprotect Workbooks

VBA Code Snippets

In a previous VBA Code Snippet, we covered protecting and unprotecting worksheets.  In this post, we will consider protecting and unprotecting workbooks.  The two topics are closely related, so if this post does not provide the information you need, then read that post too.

Before getting started, there is an important change in Excel 2013 to be considered.

The difference between Single & Multiple Document Interface

In Excel 2010 and prior Excel had a Multiple Document Interface (MDI), which means multiple workbooks opened within the same Excel window.  Excel 2013 introduced the Single Document Interface (SDI), where each document has its own window with its own Ribbon.

When protecting workbooks the Windows option is disabled within Excel 2013 and above.

Protect Workbook - Windows Disabled

The purpose of the Windows setting was to fix the size of the spreadsheet within the instance of Excel.  However, now that each spreadsheet behaves as if a separate instance, fixing the size of the window now serves no purpose.

The code below will work for both MDI and SDI, however protecting the Workbook window will have no use in Excel 2013 and above.

Basic Protecting and Unprotecting

'Protect a workbook
ThisWorkbook.Protect 

'Unprotect a workbook
ThisWorkbook.Unprotect

Checking if a workbook is protected

'Show message box if the Structure is Protected
If ThisWorkbook.ProtectStructure = True Then MsgBox "Structure Protected"

'Show message box if the Window is Protected
If ThisWorkbook.ProtectWindows = True Then MsgBox "Windows Protected"

'Show message box if both the Structure or Window are Protected
If ThisWorkbook.ProtectStructure = True Or ThisWorkbook.ProtectWindows = True Then
    MsgBox "Windows and Structure Protected"
End If
100 Excel VBA Macros

Do you know the fastest way to learn foreign languages?  It is to read, write, speak, and think in that language as often as possible.  Apart from speaking, programming languages are no different.  The more you immerse yourself in that language, the faster you will pick it up.

100 Excel Macros Book

Therefore, what most people like you need is lots of examples that you can practice.  That is why the 100 Excel VBA Macros eBook exists.  It’s the book for all Excel users who want to learn how to read and write Excel macros, save time, and stand out from their peers.  The book contains:

  • 100 example codes to practice reading and writing macros that will embed the language into your thinking.
  • An introduction to macros in Excel to ensure you can implement the VBA code in the book even if you have no prior knowledge.
  • Consistent code layout between examples to enable you to understand the structure and easily customize the code to meet your needs.
  • Downloadable workbook containing all the source code, so the examples can be added to your project to give you the benefit of VBA straight away.

Protecting and unprotecting with a password

'Protect with a password
ThisWorkbook.Protect Password:="myPassword"

'Unprotect with a password
ThisWorkbook.Unprotect Password:="myPassword"

If an incorrect password is provided the following error message will show.

Protect Workbook - Incorred Password

The code below will catch the error and provide a custom message.

'Catch the error caused by an incorrect password
On Error Resume Next
ThisWorkbook.Unprotect Password:="incorrectPassword"

If Err.Number <> 0 Then
    MsgBox "The Password provided is incorrect"
    Exit Sub
End If

On Error GoTo 0

Protect the Structure or the Windows

Protecting the structure prevents users from creating, moving, deleting, hiding and unhiding worksheets. Protecting windows is described above.

'Protecting the Structure or the Windows
ThisWorkbook.Protect Password:="myPassword", Structure:=True, Windows:=True

Other related VBA code snippets

The following VBA Code Snippets will be useful for applying this post in a wider context.



Get our FREE VBA eBook of the 30 most useful Excel VBA macros.
Automate Excel so that you can save time and stop doing the jobs a trained monkey could do.

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Don’t forget:

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you have a better approach, then please leave a comment below.

Do you need help adapting this to your needs?

I’m guessing the examples in this post didn’t exactly meet your situation.  We all use Excel differently, so it’s impossible to write a post that will meet everybody’s needs.  By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site) you should be able to adapt it to your needs.

But, if you’re still struggling you should:

  1. Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic.  You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
  2. Ask the ‘Excel Ninja’ in your office.  It’s amazing what things other people know.
  3. Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community.  Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free.  So take care to craft your question, make sure it’s clear and concise.  List all the things you’ve tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
  4. Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner.   They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.

What next?
Don’t go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid.  Check out the latest posts:

2 thoughts on “VBA code to Protect and Unprotect Workbooks

  1. Francis says:

    All the codes are helpful and provided description that are easily to understand. but, my concern is can you provide a specific location where should i put the block of codes. for example, this block of codes put it in module then this one for form load, and then this one is for workbook, etc. I’m frustrated to run the system because there are to many errors occurred. Please, I hope my suggestion will be accepted. Thank you more power.!

    • Excel Off The Grid says:

      Thank you for the feedback Francis. I will take this on board and include it as part of the next full site maintenance.

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