How to Lock Cells in Google Sheets?


If you want one particular cell, a set of cells, a column of cells, or a row of cells to have their values unchanged, you can do so by locking them in.

Google Sheets is the web “version” of Microsoft Excel made by Google that enables you to collaborate with editing your spreadsheet online freely by people that you’ve given permission to edit such.

However, when sharing your sheet with coworkers and whatnot, some cells you might want to leave untouched. You can also lock specific columns, rows, or the entire sheet itself, with you sharing a “Read Only” version of the sheet to others.

Learn how to lock cells in google sheets with this easy guide!

Why Lock Cells in Google Sheets?

The program enables you to lock cells in order to keep others from editing the cells that you want to remain unchanged.

It’s particularly beneficial when you have multiple people from your staff or crew entering their data or using formulas on the sheet you’re sharing.

You might have someone accidentally delete the sheet or edit it under your nose. You might have to revert the changes when this happens, but that can be a hassle.

It’s better to make sure that the people you’re sharing spreadsheets with only edit the parts you want them to edit.

The easiest solution to such drama is to lock cells you want to remain unchanged and enable access to the rest for your collaborators to engage with and edit at their leisure.

How to Lock Cells In Google Sheets

Open a sheet and do the following to lock a cell or cells at your behest.

Step 1: Select the cell you want to lock then right-click on it. For example, it’s a task list and you don’t want to change the deadline for the cell for column A and row 197 (Cell A197).

Lock Cells Step 1

Step 2: On the resulting menu, click on “View more cell options” in order to get to the “Protect range” option, which should then bring up a new pane on the right side of the sheet.

Lock Cells Step 2

Step 3: On the new pane labeled “Protected sheets and ranges”, select the option “Add a sheet or range”.

Lock Cells Step 3

Step 4: You have the option to enter a description of the locked cell. In this case, I put in “Deadline”. Right below that is the Range tab showcasing that it’s Cell A197 that’s being locked.

Lock Cells Step 4

Step 5: The Range option can be changed from one cell to multiple if you’d like. For example, I’ve selected Cells A196 to A200 for locking.

Lock Cells Step 5

Step 6: Now click on the “Set permissions” button in order to edit permissions on who could edit that one cell or set of cells.

Lock Cells Step 6

Step 7: Clicking “Set permissions” will result in Google Sheets opening a new window named Range editing permissions. Select “Restrict who can edit this range” (the range being Cell A197) and enter “Only you”.

Lock Cells Step 7A

Your other options include “Custom” and “Copy permission from another range”.

Lock Cells Step 7B

Step 8: Click on “Done” once you’ve put in the right parameters. Then you should see a dialog box saying “Saving…” before it confirms that it has saved your changes with “Changes saved!”

Lock Cells Step 8

How to Give Edit Permission of Locked Cells to Selected People

Step 1: Repeat all the abovementioned steps on how to lock cells from Step 1 to Step 7. Or if you’ve already edited the cell, just click on the “Change permissions” button.

Set Permissions Step 1

Step 2: We should now be back on the Range editing permissions. Instead of selecting “Only you”, select “Custom” instead.

Set Permissions Step 2

Step 3: On the resulting window, pick “Restrict who can edit this range”. This allows you to choose who else can edit the locked cell aside from you based on the permissions on your spreadsheet or using your Gmail email address list.

Click “Done” when you’re through.

Set Permissions Step 3

Step 4: There’s another option known as “Show a warning when editing this range” wherein everyone with access to your spreadsheet can still edit the cell but they’re shown a warning before they do so.

Set Permissions Step 4

In a Nutshell

Select the cell you want to lock and then right-click it. On the resulting menu, click on “Protect range”. On the pane for “Protected sheets and ranges” that should appear afterwards, select “Add a sheet or range”. You have the option to enter a description for the locked cell to boot!

The “Range editing permissions” window also gives you the options to “Restrict who can edit this range” and add other people aside from you who can edit the cell or cells.

There’s also the “Show a warning when editing this range” that allows everyone with access to the sheet to edit the cell but they’ll be warned that the cell shouldn’t be changed accidentally.

References:

  1. How to Lock Cells in Google Sheets (or Lock Rows/Columns)“, SpreadsheetPoint.com, Retrieved June 12, 2022
  2. John Boitnott, “How to lock cells in Google Sheets | The Jotform Blog“, Jotform.com, March 22, 2022
  3. Protect, hide, and edit sheets – Google Docs Editors Help”, Google.com Support, Retrieved June 12, 2022

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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