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How to Password Protect Google Sheets [Easiest Method]

May 8, 2024

When considering how to secure files and accounts, adding a password for access is often the first thought. Although Google Sheets does not have this as a default feature, it can be achieved using Google Apps Script. Learn how to achieve this by following this tutorial.

Can I Password Protect Google Sheets?

At first glance, it may seem impossible to password-protect a Google Sheets spreadsheet. This is because Google Sheets does not have a built-in password feature. Instead, it has a Share feature that allows you to control which Google accounts have access to the data.

However, as we have seen in other tutorials, you can add additional features to google sheets using Google Apps Script. This is what we will use in this tutorial.

Why provide an additional layer of protection?

Certain sheets may contain sensitive data such as login information, bank information, earnings, etc. if the account used is shared, adding this kind of functionality to the Google Sheets spreadsheet will make sure that even if the account is compromised, there is still a layer of protection that keeps the data from being accessed. 

How to Protect Google Sheets with Password

Step 1: Open the Google Sheets template

Click the link below to open the template: 

Step 2: Copy the template to your Google Sheets

The link prompts you to make a copy the sheet alongside its Apps Script files and functionality. Click Make a copy.

Google Sheets Copy document prompt

Step 3: Open Google Sheets Apps Script

To open Google Apps Script, click Extensions on the main toolbar then select Apps Script.

Access Google Apps Script through Extensions in Google Sheets

Step 4: Start New deployment

Click the arrow besides the Deploy button, then select New deployment

Google Sheets Apps Script, Deploy, new deployment

Step 5: Deploy the Script

A box will appear allowing you to configure the deployment. We can opt not to modify these settings. Click Deploy.

New deployment options

Step 6: Authorize Access to Apps Script

As you will run the script for the first time, Google Apps Script will prompt you to Authorize Access to the script. Click Authorize access

Google Sheets Authorize access to custom Apps Script

A new window will appear, prompting you to select the Google account to authorize. Select your account. 

Choose account for access authorization

A page will load, inform you that the app has not been verified by Google. This app is however safe.

Google hasn't verified this app

Click Advanced, then click Go to ProtectedSheet

Click link on the lower portion of the page to continue using the app

You will be brought next to the page containing lists of permissions required to run the app. Click Allow.

List of permissions needed by the app in Google

Step 7: Click Done

The window will close and you will be brought back to the New deployment box. Click Done

New deployment box with generated web app link

Step 8: Click Protect File, then Initialize

Google Sheets Protect File, Initialize option

A small box labeled Finished script indicates that the script has been initialized. We are now ready to add contents to this spreadsheet and encrypt it. 

Finished script notification, means script has initialized in your Google Sheets

You can now start adding data to the spreadsheet. It is best to store the data starting at Row 3. You will see in the next section why.

Data added to the sheet

Set a Password to Encrypt Data

When you encrypt the data for the first time, you will be asked to supply a password.  Here are the steps:

Initial data, unencrypted

Step 1: Click Protect File

Step 2: Select Encrypt File

Google Sheets Protect File, Encrypt file option

Step 3: Set a new password

Create a new password box

Step 4: Click Ok

The data will become encrypted starting Row 3. 

Google Sheets Data after encrypting it. Note the random characters that obscure the content.

The same steps are still applicable if you want to encrypt data again. 

Enter your password to encrypt data

How to Unlock/Decrypt Data

Here are the steps to decrypt the data:

Step 1: Click Protect File

Step 2: Select Decrypt File

Google Sheets Protect file, Decrypt file option

Step 3: Enter the Password

Enter password to decrypt
Message if incorrect phrase is entered

Step 4: Click Enter.

You will see the data decrypted in action.

Decrypted data

How to Change Password

Doing this process can be a necessity, especially if there are changes to those who access the accounts. Here are the steps to replace the old one with a new one.

Step 1: Click Protect File

Step 2: Select Change Password

Google Sheets Protect File, Change Password prompt

Step 3: Replace the old one with a new one

Change password box

Step 4: Click Submit

Follow the steps to encrypt the data in the previous sections to activate the new settings.

Data after encrypting it again
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