Have you forgotten your Excel password for a workbook or sheet? Or has someone left your office and they forgot to unlock an Excel workbook with a password set on it? If you’re stuck with an XLS file with a password that you need to break or crack, you can try out a small little utility that just might be able to get you back into your Excel file.
Remove Excel Workbook/Worksheet Passwords
Excel Password Remover 2007 is a freeware program that you can use to remove/crack/break/unlock a password on an Excel 2010 or earlier workbook or sheet. However, you still have to be able to open the file itself. If the file is protected in that you cannot even open the file without typing a password, I’ll mention another program that you can use to crack that Excel password.
However, for most Excel password protection, it’s usually on the workbook or sheet so that someone can view the file, but not make structural changes to the file or changes to the cells. If this is your case, download the add-in and double-click on it. Excel will open and you’ll be asked whether to enable or disable the macros associated with the add-in. Of course, enable it.
Then go ahead and open the Excel workbook that has the password on it that you would like to get rid of. There will be two new menu options under Tools, called Unprotect Sheet and Unprotect Workbook. Note that you can also open the workbook first and then double-click on the add-on to get the new menu options.
I created a test workbook and protected both the sheet and the workbook with a simple password at first. The program worked perfectly and it removed the protection very quickly!
However, I decided to see how well it worked with a fairly complex password set to the workbook! I used 9 character password that had a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and a symbol to put the Excel password remover to the test and I was quite surprised that it actually managed to crack it after about 2 minutes! Not bad at all!
What’s really surprising is that you can break a password of any length using this add-in for all versions from Excel 97 to Excel 2010. I also used a 17 character password that has numbers and symbols and it was cracked in about 5 seconds. Why so fast and why doesn’t it matter how complicated the password is? Unfortunately, the password is only as safe as the amount of encryption used to store the password.
The encryption is weak in Excel and therefore passwords can be easily cracked no matter how complicated or how long they are. If you’re using the Excel 2007 or 2010 add-on, you’ll see a new tab called Straxx and three options: Unprotect sheet, Unprotect workbook and Unprotect all. The last one is for the PRO version only, which you have to pay for.
The PRO version is also the only version that will work on Excel 2013 and Excel 2016 files. You’ll also need the PRO version if you want to use the program on a Mac computer. It’s $28 for the Windows version and $26 for the Mac version. You can purchase those here.
Remove Excel Protection and Remove VBA Passwords
Now if you’re trying to crack the password that is needed to open the Excel file itself, you will have to try out some other programs, which unfortunately are not free like the one above, however, there are your best chance at getting into that Excel file.
For Excel 2003 and earlier, the password to open the file can be cracked instantly. For Excel 2007 and above, the password to open an Excel file is stored more securely than the workbook and worksheet passwords and therefore can’t be cracked instantly, but has to be done using normal brute force dictionary attacks, etc.
Excel Password Recovery Lastic will not only remove or recover worksheet and workbook passwords, it’ll also recover the password to open an Excel document and VBA project passwords too. Not only that, but you can specify a directory and the program will scan all Excel files in the directory, find all passwords in each document and crack them for you.
The program will set you back $29.95 and you can purchase it from here. It’s only worth it if you really need to gain access to an important Excel file that is password protected. Like I mentioned earlier, though, this program can crack any password associated with an Excel 2003 or earlier file no matter how long or how complicated it is.
It cannot recover the password for Excel 2007 and above, so don’t buy this program if you need to see the password. It can remove Excel passwords all the way up to Excel 2013. Here is a chart on what the program can and can’t do and for which version of Excel.
Excel Key also recovers all types of passwords for Excel spreadsheet files including sheet, workbook, file open, etc. This program also works up to Excel 2013, the latest version of Excel. In addition, it also has methods for attempting to crack an open file password for Excel 2007 and above. You can download a demo of the program that will only display the first three characters of the password, however, this might be enough to jog some people’s memory! If you still can’t remember, you can buy it for $39.
The program has 9 built-in dictionaries for performing brute-force attacks, though you should know that the program will only be able to check about 400 to 800 passwords per second on an average PC. This may sound like a lot, but for a very complex password, it means the program may never be able to crack the password. Again, this is only for the open file password on Excel 2007 and above.
If you need to crack an Excel VBA password, you should check out VBA Key from the same company. It supports all office products including Word, Excel, Access, etc for VBA password recovery. It also supports multilingual passwords. It also costs $39.
Online Excel Cracking Tools
If you can’t get your Excel 2007 to 2013 password cracked using the tools above because it’s going to take too long and the password is too complex, you can try some online tools that can try about 1000 times as many passwords in a second as your home computer can. Pricing varies by site and which options you choose.
Here are two other online Excel password recovery tools you can check out:
Hopefully, one of the tools above will get you into your password-protected Excel file! Any other Excel password recovery tool you use that you would want to mention? Post a comment! Enjoy!