How to restrict editing cells in Google Sheets?

May 6, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

For years, Microsoft’s Excel was the obvious choice for many businesses due to its superiority in terms of processing power and abundance of features. However, Google Sheets is proving to be a worthy component because of its convenience, especially the ability for multiple people to collaborate with ease in real-time.

In addition to that, you can access any spreadsheet from your account from multiple devices without causing any disruption. Unlike Excel, where turning on cell protection restricts everyone, including you, from editing protected cells, Google Sheets allows you to enable certain users to edit protected cells.

This might sound complicated, but this guide will show you exactly how to protect cells from editing in Google Spreadsheets.

Why Protect Your Spreadsheets?

The real-time collaboration is definitely the biggest selling point for Google Sheets. And with it comes the feature to restrict unauthorized changes to specific cells by team members. Google spreadsheet permissions give you control over who you can share a link with to view or edit one of your Sheets.

Some of the reasons you might want to protect your Sheets include:

  • Your spreadsheet might be having complex formulas that you don’t want to be interfered with. In such cases, you can introduce cell restrictions so that only you can make changes to those formulas.
  • If you have a large team that you’re going to share your spreadsheet with, it makes sense to protect the whole spreadsheet or parts of it to prevent users from ‘trespassing’ and making unnecessary modifications.

Any of these are reason enough to learn cell protection techniques to help keep your data safe and intact.

How to Lock a Cell in Google Sheets

Sometimes, you may only need to lock up a certain cell or set of cells in a spreadsheet. To do so:

  1. Open your Google Sheet and highlight the cell that you want to protect.
  2. Select the “Data” button, and then open “Protected sheets and ranges”.
  3. On the “Protected sheets & ranges” pane that appears on the right side, write a brief description of the specific cell that you plan to protect.
  4. Next, select “Set permissions”. This allows you to specify who you want to access and edit the cell.
  5. Because the “Restrict who can edit this range” and “Only you” options are selected by default, it means that you’re the only one with the authority to modify the cell.
  6. To add more collaborators who can edit the cell, click the drop-down menu, and select “Custom…”
  7. Add team members that you want to have access to the protected cell in the “Add editors” section by entering their names and email addresses. You’ll also notice that everyone with whom you’ve shared the Sheets edit permission is already selected by default. You can simply deselect those whom you don’t want to have permissions to edit the selected cell.
  8. Once you’re finished adding and deselecting the editors, click “Done” to apply the settings.

With these settings, any unauthorized person who tries to modify the data in the selected cells will be prompted to contact the spreadsheet owner to remove the protection in order to be able to make the changes.

How to Restrict Editing for Specific Cells in Google Sheets

The above tutorial shows you how to lock a cell in Google Sheets. “What if I want to restrict editing for specific cells in Google Sheets?” Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Log into Google Drive and open the spreadsheet that you want to protect.
  2. Using your mouse, select the specific cells that you’d like to restrict editing.
  3. Right-click on one of the selected cells, and then click “Protect range”.
  4. On the “Protected sheets & ranges” pane that opens, enter a brief description of those cells, and then click “Set permissions”.
  5. Making sure that the “Restrict who can edit this range” option is selected, click the drop-down list and choose “Custom”.
  6. Add people with whom you want to share permissions to edit the spreadsheet.
  7. To add another range of specific cells, click the “Add a sheet or range” option, and then enter a brief description. Next, choose “Set permissions” and select those that you want to be allowed to modify the spreadsheet.
  8. Click “Done” when you’re finished.

How to Protect an Entire Spreadsheet from Editing

You may want to pass on information without the need for team members to make any changes. For this case, it’s easier to give them the view instead of edit permission. This way, those people with whom you want to share the spreadsheet may only view without altering any data in the spreadsheet.

To do so:

  1. Open your Google Sheet and then go to Data > Protected sheets and ranges.
  2. On the “Protected sheets & ranges” pane that appears on the right side, select “Sheet”.
  3. Choose the sheet that you want to protect from the drop-down menu, and then click the “Set permissions” button.
  4. Select the “Restrict who can edit this range” option.
  5. Click the drop-down list and then click “Custom”. Now add the people who can view and edit those cells.

With these settings, anyone you’ve allowed access to the spreadsheet can open and view the contents but won’t be able to make any edits.

However, there may arise the need to allow certain cells to be edited. The quickest and easiest way to achieve this is by protecting the entire spreadsheet and then allowing a few specific cells to be editable.

To proceed:

  1. Open your Google Sheets, and select the document that you want to lock.
  2. On the right pane, click the “Add a sheet or range” option.
  3. Select “Sheet”, and then choose the sheet that you want to protect from the drop-down menu.
  4. Next, check the checkbox next to “Except for certain cells”. Here, you can edit the selected range by entering the data range or you can select the “Add another range” option and then select the data range.
  5. Click “OK”.
  6. Next, click the “Set permissions” button.
  7. Click the drop-down menu under “Restrict who can edit this range”, and choose “Custom”.
  8. Here, you can add the people that you want to allow to make edits to the document. You can also deselect those whose permissions you want to revoke.
  9. Click “Done” when finished.

How to Remove a Protected Cell from Google Sheets

You can remove Sheet protection anytime by following these steps:

  1. Open Google Sheets > Data > protected sheets and ranges.
  2. On the right pane, under “Protected sheets & ranges”, click the protected range or sheet that you want to remove, and then click the trash can that appears to the right of the range or sheet description field.

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Another advantage of using Auslogics Anti-Malware is that it allows you to schedule automatic scans to ensure that you’re always protected.

With that said, how do you protect your Google Sheets from editing by team members? Let us know by commenting below.


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