The 2021 Trick to Unlock Excel File without Knowing Password
Most of the important Excel files are protected by a password and unfortunately, we tends to forgot or lost Excel password at sometimes in our life. No matter you are an individual or employee of an organization, the skill for unlocking Excel files could be compulsory.
From balance sheets, to bank statements, you need Excel. But what if you forgot the password to a certain Excel file, or how would you open the file you received months back from your bank but don’t remember the password?
We have jotted down a list of tools and methods you can use to unlock Excel file without password. Please check the requirements and read the steps carefully.
Notice: The first part is going to introduce three tools to unlock Excel open password. The second part will be more focused on unlocking Excel modify password.
Part 1: How to Unlock Excel File (Password to Open)
According to Microsoft official documentation, there are two types of password encryption that can be applied to an Excel worksheet or workbook.
The first type is the password to open an Excel workbook. You will be asked to enter the correct password in order to view the content inside Excel file. It is also known as Excel Open Password.
In the following part, we will introduce three effective tools to unlock Excel open password.
Passwordrecovery.io (For Weak Password)
This is a free online password cracking service that is pretty simple to use as you will see from the steps below. It is highly suitable to unlock Excel file that is password protected by a weak password with the help of self-built wordlist, a text file that contains millions of popular password combinations.
However, as mentioned in their website itself, it is suggested not using this tool for any Excel document that contains sensitive or confidential information like bank statement.
This is mostly because you have to upload the Excel file on their cloud servers, which is not a very good idea as you don’t have any control over it. Also, their chances of success is pretty slim, considering that it can only unlock simple passwords.
If you want to opt for this online Excel password unlocking tool, please follow the steps in below.
Visit their website (https://passwordrecovery.io/office-doc-xls-password-recovery/) and click the Select Password Protected File button to upload password protected Excel file into their server.
Once done, it will show you a message below on whether it was able to find the password or not. If it does, it will show you the password on this page itself, which then you can use to unlock Excel file. If not, it means it cannot crack the password this time. You have to use other Excel password unlocker software instead. Don’t worry, we will share more tools in coming section.
Conclusion: Only use this tool if the Excel file was not important!
Hashcat (Free and Powerful Password Cracker)
Hashcat is one of the fastest password recovery software with hardware acceleration technology enabled by default. It is able to unlock Excel password as well as 50+ types of passwords, ranging from MS Office to PDF to archive files. In short, it is an advanced password cracking toolkit!
It is an open source utility that is available for free. However, this password unlocking utility is mainly targeted towards high-level users, who knows well about commands.
Simply put, Hashcat is a command line based utility that is full of text commands. If you dread watching a black screen with white fonts where you mouse doesn’t work, this utility is probably not for you.
The first thing you need to do is to install a program called Office2John from their GitHub repository. This will extract password hash from Excel workbook. Also, make sure Python is installed on that computer.
The installation instructions are given here. Ensure that the locked Excel file is in the same folder where Office2John was installed.
Next, download Hashcat binary package from their own website and unzip the file into the same folder where Office2John is saved.
Extract hash value (not the original password) from the locked Excel file using the below command:
python office2john.py sample.xlsx > sample.hash
Remember to copy the Excel file into the same folder and replace sample.xlsx with the name of password-protected Excel file.
Once the password hash was generated, please go to this wiki page and find the hash mode of Excel hash, which is required in future step. For example:
- Office 2007: 9400
- Office 2010: 9500
- Office 2013: 9600
- Office 2016: 25300
Next, type this command to crack password of an Excel 2016 file.
hashcat -a 0 -m 25300 -o sample.hash unlocked.txt example.dict
Remember to replace 25300 with hash mode for corresponding version of Excel. Finally, Hashcat will unlock and store the password in the file named unlocked.txt.
Conclusion: Great for tech-savvy and the one who prefers using free ways to unlock an Excel file.
iSeePassword Dr.Excel (Premium and Easy Tool)
If you want to ease yourself from above boring task with Hashcat, then we recommend using iSeePassword Dr.Excel instead.
This is one of the simplest utilities to unlock Excel files protected by an open passwords. It has a very clean user interface with details instructions on it. It also provides three modern password unlocking engines to crack password from Excel file, including Brute-force, Mask and Dictionary.
What’s more, it does not, in any way, results in data loss. This means it does not bring any damage to Excel file even the process fails. There is also a free version available on their website. They also have a dedicated help desk in case you have problem in using its product.
The installation file can be obtained from here. After launch, you’ll see the below screen from which select the option which says “Recover Open Password from Excel” by clicking on it.
Next, press “Add File” button to browse and add the locked Excel file, select the method using which you would want to recover the password.
Each of these comes with their own set of advantages, for example if you remember part of the password you can opt for the Brute-force with Mask attack, and provide that part of the password using the settings button beside that option. This would help Dr. Excel to recover the password in a much shorter period of time.
Once done, press the “Start” button. At this time, Dr. Excel would start the process of recovering the password (as you can see from the below screenshot).
Once the process is complete, the recovered password would be shown on a small pop-up box as seen below.
Copy the password, close this program and open the locked Excel file, then when it asks for the password while opening provide the copied password and voila, it will open like magic!
Conclusion: Dr.Excel is your best choice if you want to get the password unlocked in a comfortable and efficient way! Save huge time and effort by paying a few bucks.
Part 2: How to Unlock Excel File (Password to Modify)
Password to Modify is another type of protection available in Excel. Unlike the open password, modify password is required when someone tries to make changes to the opening worksheet or workbook. In simple terms, the user can view the content but can not make changes. The following error pops up when trying to edit a worksheet protected by modify password.
You have to unlock the sheet in order to edit the cell or worksheet.
Copy Content in Protected Worksheet to New Sheet
This is one of the easiest ways to remove Modify Password from Excel file. You won’t even need any technical knowledge to use this method, as you will see from the steps below. However, there is always a chance that you might end up missing content while using this method. Please be noted!
Open the Excel file and navigate to the sheet for which you need to modify the content.
Then press Ctrl+A and then Ctrl+C to select all the content and copy them.
Now, create a new blank sheet in the same Excel file and press Ctrl+V in the new Excel sheet to paste the original content.
Now, You will be able to modify the content on this new sheet. Wasn’t that simple!
Conclusion: Try this trick first and if it does not work, then move forward to other solutions mentioned in this post.
Unlock Excel Password Using VBA Code
Short for Visual Basic for Application, VBA is the programming language Microsoft provided to automate advanced tasks in Excel and other MS Office products, including password removal (only applied to Modify Password).
From our researching, there are already a couple of code snips available online. Hence, no programming skill is required. However, if none of them worked in your case, you have to write the VBA code by yourself.
In our case, we are able to unlock a password protected worksheet with the following code we will introduce in the following steps.
Once again, if you have no experience in programming, we would suggest you not to use this method as you might end up corrupting the file, or losing content of the file.
The first and very crucial step is to backup the original Excel file as this trick might damage the file if error occurred.
After that, open the Excel file and press Alt+F11 to open up a new window that says Microsoft Visual Basic at the top. This is where you can type the executable VBA code. On the left panel, look for the name of the sheet that is protected, double click on it.
On the blank page on the right side of the panel, input the following code. You can also copy the whole text from this link.
Press the play button at the top. This will run the code, and it will show you the password that you can use to unlock the Excel file for modifying.
Conclusion: One of the most effective ways to unprotect an Excel worksheet with Modify Password. Try to find more code snips if the above does not work.
Unlock Excel File without Password Online
The third option in this part is by using an online tool to unlock Excel file with Modify Password. Needless to say, if your Excel file contains sensitive information, it is not recommended in this way.
Also, this has another drawback, you can use only this on Excel files that contains .xls or .xlsx file extensions. So, if your Excel files contains an extension like .xlsm, which is not quite uncommon, this tool will be not going to work.
First, visit their website (https://www.unprotect-excel.com/) and use the Choose File button to upload your lock Excel file. Make sure you have checked the terms and conditions checkbox. Press the Unlock File! Button to start removing password from Excel.
Upon success, you will be able get an unlocked version of uploaded Excel file.
Conclusion: Quite simple to unlock Excel file with Modify Password and no software install! Only go with it if there was not sensitive data in that file!
Hope some of these tools or methods prove to be helpful in unlocking Excel Open or Modify password. Before getting started, the first step is to check what kind of password attached to Excel file. After that, you can choose the tool accordingly based on our recommendations.
For Open Password, I personally feel that Dr. Excel is the best tool amongst these as it is directed towards both power users and newbies. As you can see from the screenshots, it has extremely easy-to-follow UI and it is pretty fast with a good success rate.
For Modify Password, there is no best way to pick from at first glance. You have to try the suggestions one by one as the situation is more complex.