We all keep sensitive data in Excel. Whether it’s your secret checking account or the phone numbers of your mistresses, you don’t want your wife opening just an old Excel file she wants. To prevent that, you can keep your sensitive Excel files on a floppy and hide it in the toilet tank, or you can password protect the files.
On the Save As dialog, there’s a Tools menu.
General Options shows the Save Options dialog.
Here, you can enter a password to open the file and one to modify it. If you enter both, you’ll be prompted twice (a feature I never liked). I once inherited a file that used both. Did you guess the rest? They were the same password. How stupid is that?
The read only check box presents yet another prompt. Even after you’ve entered the password to modify, it warns you that you should open the workbook as read only unless you want to modify it. I just typed in the password, of course I want to modify it.
I rarely password protect my Excel files. If I did, they would all have the same password because there’s no way I’m going to remember more than a few passwords. Also, Excel’s password protection is notoriously easy to crack. At my office, I’ve protected the personal financial statements of all the owners. By the time I needed to update those files, I’d forgotten the password. I found a program that would crack it, but it only gives you the first three letters unless you pay. Fortunately, the first three letters was all it took to spark my memory. Now I have that password safely stored on a sticky note on my monitor (just kidding).
If I worked for Microsoft, I would have made the password prompt look like this
You only get one prompt. If you know the second password, it would be assumed that you know the first. I suppose that’s one less password to crack, but I doubt that would increase the snooping very much. And if you enter the second one, no prompt for read-only.