How to Save File as Read-Only in Excel & Google Sheets

Written by

Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Laura Tsitlidze

Last updated on June 2, 2023

This tutorial demonstrates how to save a file as read-only in Excel and Google Sheets.

read only allow edit


Save as Read-Only

An Excel file can be saved as read-only to prevent users from inadvertently changing the content. When a user opens a read-only file, they need to enable editing.

  1. To enable read-only mode, in the Ribbon, go to File > Info.
  2. Click Protect Workbook.
  3. Then click Always Open Read-Only.

excel protect read only

As a result, the user is asked to enable editing every time the file is opened.

read only allow edit

When you click Edit Anyway, you can work in the file.

Protect With a Password

You can also password-protect an Excel file to make it read-only. In this case, a user can enter a password to edit a file or open it in read-only mode. There is no Edit Anyway option.

  1. In the Ribbon, go to the File tab, and choose Save As.

excel password protect

  1. Choose Browse.

excel password protect 2

  1. In the Save As window, go to Tools > General Options.

excel password protect 3

  1. In the General Options window, type in a Password to modify, and then click OK.

excel password protect 4

  1. Reenter the password, and then click OK.

excel password protect 5

  1. In the Save As window, click Save.

excel password protect 6

Now when you open the file, you get a prompt to enter a password to modify the file. If a user doesn’t have a password, they can open the file as read-only.

excel password protect 7

Set Permissions to Protect a Google Sheet

In Google Sheets, there isn’t a read-only setting like there is in Excel. To protect a range or a whole sheet from changes, you have to set permissions.

  1. In the Menu, go to Data > Protected sheets and ranges.

google sheets protected sheets and ranges

  1. The Protected sheets and ranges section appears on the right side. Click Add a sheet or range.

google sheets protect a sheet

  1. Type in a description of the protection. Then under Sheet, choose a sheet to protect and click Set permissions.

google sheets set permissions

  1. You have three options for editing permissions:
  • Show a warning when editing
  • Only the owner of the file can edit
  • Specify users who can edit the file

For this example, leave the default option (so that only the owner can edit the file) and click Done.

google sheets set permissions 1

As a result, if anyone other than the owner tries to edit the sheet, Google Sheets rejects the changes.

Change Permissions – Google Sheets

There’s also the option to change permissions so that Google Sheets displays a warning when you’re editing the sheet.

  1. In the Protect sheets & ranges window, click Change permissions.

google sheets change permissions

  1. Choose Show a warning when editing this range, and then click Done.

google sheets show a warning

  1. Now if you try to change any cell in the sheet, you get the warning shown in the picture below. Click OK in order to allow the changes; Click Cancel if the edits are unnecessary.

google sheets show a warning 1

Specify Users

Another option is to specify users (by email address) who can edit the file.

  1. In the Range editing permissions window (see Step 2 in the previous section), choose Restrict who can edit this range.
  2. Choose Custom from the drop-down list.
  3. In the Add editors box, type in the names or email addresses of users.
  4. Then click sheets custom permissions

As a result, only those users specified in Step 4 have access to edit the Google Sheets file.

Tip: Also see how to track changes and share files.

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