Can you lock a Google sheet from editing?

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Protecting your Google Sheets lets you avoid unprecedented changes to existing data. Aside from protecting your sheet, you can also customize how people write into it by tweaking the editing permissions.

In this article, we will show you how to protect your Google Sheets and improve its security.

Why Protect Your Google Sheets

Your Google spreadsheets might contain important inputs that you don't want to change. However, you might have no choice but to share the sheet for various reasons, starting with simply reading it down to writing data into it.

Sometimes, you might even need to remove the default access restriction placed on your Google Sheets so that anyone can access it.

In that case, you need to prevent the accidental modification of important cells. These can be cells that show some calculations or those that other cells containing calculated outputs depend upon.

Regardless of the situation, protecting your sheet prevents anyone from editing its contents. By locking your sheet, anyone without writing permission can only access and read it, not edit it.

How to Protect the Entire Google Sheets

While protecting your Google Sheets, you can choose to either prevent anyone except yourself from editing it or choose to grant editing permission to some people. Let's see how you can go about either option:

Prevent Anyone Except You From Editing Your Google Sheets

Here's how to prevent others except you from updating your sheet:

  1. From the top ribbon of Google Sheets, click Tools.
  2. Select Protect the sheet from the options.

    Google sheets ribbon with tools option

  3. Fill in the optional Enter a description field.
  4. Select the sheet you want to protect from the sheets option dropdown below the description box.
  5. Click Set permissions.

    Google sheets protect sheets option

  6. To cap the editing permission to only you: tick Restrict who can edit this range.
  7. From the dropdown below it, select Only you.

    Google sheet set permission menu

  8. Click Done to effect the changes. Then finally, click Done again.

Grant Editing Permission to Selected People

As mentioned earlier, you can choose who can write to your Google Sheets. To do this, you only need to update the permission settings in your Google Sheets and grant them access through their email address:

Google sheets permission settings menu

  1. Click Tools > Select Protect the sheet > enter a description.
  2. Choose the sheet you want to protect from the dropdown.
  3. Click Set permissions. Then, select Restrict who can edit this range.
  4. Choose Custom from the dropdown.
  5. Tick the email addresses you want to grant write permission to if you've previously shared your Google Sheets with them.
  6. If your choice email address isn't on the list, then type or paste it in the Add editors field. You can add more than one email address at a time. But ensure that you separate them with a comma.
  7. Hit Done when satisfied.

Note: If you've listed some email addresses in the Add editors field, you can go ahead and share your Google Sheets with them if you've not done so already. That's it for locking your entire Google Sheets.

Set Soft Warning for Editing Cells

Sometimes, your sheet may contain sensitive data that you don't want to modify yourself. For instance, it could even be data coming from Google Forms into your Google Sheets.

Related: How to Integrate Google Forms With Google Sheets

While you can't lock yourself out from editing sheets you own, you can tell Google to spin up a soft warning each time you try to edit some sheets. This lets you prevent yourself from accidentally editing such sheets, or at least get a warning before doing so.

That's even helpful if you manage many sheets at a time and you want to keep a tab of the ones you don't want to change. It's also a great option to consider if you don't share your Google Sheets with outsiders.

Here's how to set a soft warning before editing your Google Sheets:

Google sheets edit warning

  1. Click Tools.
  2. Go to Protect the sheet.
  3. Choose Set permissions.
  4. Select Show a warning when editing this range.
  5. Click Done to save the changes.

However, a disadvantage of this option is that anyone can still edit your sheet, even if they don't have write permission. That's because Google only shows a warning before further editing. So people can always proceed to edit it anyways.

Related: Google Sheets Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows and Mac

Here's the warning you get each time you or anyone tries to write to your Google Sheets:

Google sheets warning prior to editing

How to Lock Selected Cells in Google Sheets

While you've permitted some people to edit your sheet, you might still want to prevent them from updating some cells or columns in the sheet. Here's how to do that:

  1. From the sheet's ribbon, click Data.
  2. Select Protected sheets and ranges.

    Google Sheets protected sheets and ranges option

  3. Click Add a sheet or range.

    Google Sheets protected ranges settings

  4. Fill in the Enter a description field.
  5. You'll see a field below the description box prefilled with a default data range. Click the small box to the right of that range.

    Protected sheets in Google sheets

  6. Type in the cell you want to protect. For instance, to protect cell G3, type Sheet!G3.
  7. To protect a range of cells, put a colon after the initial cell like this: Sheet!B3:.
  8. Then type in the cell where you want the protection to cover: Sheet!B3:F14. For example, to protect an entire column, you can use Sheet!G1:G40. This also applies to an entire row.

    Google Sheets cell range settings

  9. Alternatively, you can highlight the cells you want to protect and it will reflect in the range field. But this isn't quite practical when you have many rows or columns.
  10. Click OK when you're done setting your cell range.
  11. Click Set permissions to set your write permission preferences as you like using the steps we highlighted earlier.
  12. Finally, click Done.

How to Exempt Some Cells From Protection in Google Sheets

If you want to lock the majority of your cells and leave a few of them open for updates, you can exempt those few cells from protection and put a lock on the rest:

Google Sheets permission exempt certain cells

  1. Click Tools.
  2. Select Protect the sheet.
  3. Look below the sheet options dropdown and put a tick on Except certain cells.
  4. Click the small box to the right of the prefilled range.
  5. Type the cell range you want to exempt from protection in the range field: for instance, type C3 to exempt the third cell of the third column only. Or type A3:C3 to exempt the third cell of the first column up to the third cell on the third column.
  6. Go ahead and click Set permissions. Then use the steps we highlighted earlier to set your write permissions.
  7. Click Done when satisfied with the exemption.

How to Remove Protection From Your Google Sheets

If you don't want to protect your Google Sheets anymore, you can also remove the permissions you've set earlier. That's quite easy:

  1. On the Google Sheets ribbon, click Data
  2. Go to Protected sheets and ranges
  3. You'll see the description of the protection you set earlier as its identity. Click that!
  4. Look to the right of the description and click the delete icon.

    Google sheets delete protection

  5. Finally, click Remove.

    Google sheets remove protection popup

Handle Your Google Sheets Like a Pro

Now that you know how to set different permissions for Google Sheets, you can share it with others, knowing that they can't change your data unless you grant them permission to do so. You can do this with organizational sheets you manage alone or with a team.

Can you put a lock on a Google sheet?

Lock an Entire Sheet in Google Sheets open up the sheet that you want to lock in Google Sheets, then click Data > Protected Sheets and Ranges. Click the Add a sheet or range option to begin to add the criteria to lock your sheet. To begin locking the entire sheet, select the Sheet tab. Press the Set Permissions button.

How to lock formatting in Google Sheets but allow Data entry?

>>>>>>>>>>>> If you have a sheet open and you want to lock the formatting (cell colors, borders, etc.) but want all the data to be able to be manipulated, go to Tools, Protection, Protect Workbook, then select the box that says Structure, and click Ok.

Can you lock a Google Sheet tab?

To start, open the sheet you want to protect. Right-click on the sheet tab that you'll be protecting. This process only applies to one tab at a time, so you'll need to repeat it for any other tabs you want to protect. Click on the Protect sheet option.