How to lock cells in Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a powerful spreadsheet tool many people use every day. While the program may be similar to Microsoft Excel, it also offers some distinct advantages

One of those advantages is that you can share your spreadsheets with others. This lets you collaborate with your teams, employees, and supervisors — but it can also lead to some potential issues.

If you’ve put hours of work into developing your spreadsheet, you won’t necessarily want just anyone to edit the cells, either intentionally or accidentally. Taking a few minutes to lock your cells can protect them from being edited or changed, ensuring your document is safe even if you share it with others.

Here’s how to lock cells in Google Sheets:

  1. To protect your document, open your sheet and identify the cells that you want to lock. You can lock some of the cells while still allowing collaborators to make changes to others. Start by identifying and selecting the cells that you want to lock.
  2. Open the Data menu at the top of the document, and then select Protected Sheets and Ranges in the dropdown menu. This will open a Protected Sheets and Ranges pane on the right side of your document.
  3. In the Protected Sheets and Ranges pane, enter a description for the actions you’re prohibiting in the protected cells, like “No changing” or “No editing.” Then click the Set Permissions button to customize the permissions of that highlighted range of cells.
  4. Next, decide who should have permission to edit those selected cells. Click the Restrict who can edit this range option. You can choose Only you under the dropdown menu, and no one else will be able to edit those cells. If you want a select few people to still be able to make changes to those cells, choose Custom from the dropdown menu.
  5. By default, any collaborator on the document who has editing permissions will be allowed to edit all of the cells, including the ones you’ve selected. You’ll see a list of all the people who have permission to edit the document. Deselect anyone who shouldn’t have permission to edit the cells you’ve highlighted. Finally, click Done.
  6. If anyone without special editing permissions tries to edit those protected cells, they’ll receive a warning message stating that the cell is protected. They will need to contact you to get permission to edit the locked cells.

How to protect an entire sheet in Google Sheets

Protecting certain cells can be useful if you want others to be able to make edits to other portions of a sheet. However, if you want to protect a whole sheet, you can prevent anyone from making changes to any part of it. You can choose to give only yourself editing permissions, or you can give specific people the ability to make edits.

  1. To start, open the sheet you want to protect.
  2. 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.
  3. Click on the Protect sheet option. This will open a Protected Sheets and Ranges pane to the right of the sheet.
  4. In the Protected Sheets and Ranges pane, enter a description of what you’re doing, like “Protecting sheets from any editing.”
  5. Double-check that the sheet name in the second field reflects the name of the sheet you want to protect.
  6. Click on the Set permissions button.
  7. Select Restrict who can edit this range.
  8. In the dropdown, choose Only you if you want to be the only one who can edit the sheet. If you want to give certain people the ability to make edits, then choose the Custom dropdown option. Deselect any collaborators you don’t want to have editing permissions.
  9. Click on Done.

Making the most of Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a powerful tool for any business, and when you know how to use functions like protected ranges and cells, you can make this tool work even better for your business.

If you frequently work in spreadsheets, then it may be time to upgrade your spreadsheet-database software. Options like Jotform Tables can allow for seamless collaboration, and you can import CSV or Excel files directly to help get you up and running quickly. Jotform Tables is also equipped with templates like budget sheets and calendar templates to further save you time.

No matter what programs and software your business uses, spreadsheets are sure to be a key element. When you understand their functionality and features, you’ll get the most out of these tools and make your business more efficient.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka from Pexels

This article is originally published on Dec 30, 2021, and updated on Sep 19, 2022.
AUTHOR
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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