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How to Change the Locked and Hidden Cell Formatting

To change the status of cells in an Excel 2010 worksheet from locked to unlocked or from unhidden to hidden, you use the Locked and Hidden check boxes found on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box (Ctrl+1).

To remove the Locked protection status from a cell range or nonadjacent selection, you follow these two steps:

  1. Select the range or ranges to be unlocked.

    To select multiple ranges to create a nonadjacent cell selection, hold down the Ctrl key as you drag through each range.

  2. Click the Format command button on the Ribbon’s Home tab and then choose the Lock option near the bottom of its drop-down menu or press Alt+HOL.

Excel lets you know that the cells that contain values or formulas in the selected range are no longer locked by adding tiny green triangles to the upper-left corner of each cell in the range that, when clicked, display an alert drop-down button whose tool tip reads, “This cell contains a formula and is not locked to protect it from being changed inadvertently.”

When you click this alert button, a drop-down menu with Lock Cell as one of its menu items appears. Note that as soon as you turn on protection in the sheet, these indicators disappear.

You can also change the protection status of a selected range of cells with the Locked check box on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. Simply open the Format Cells dialog box (Ctrl+1), click the Protection tab, and then click the Locked check box to remove the check mark before you click OK.

To hide the display of the contents of the cells in the current selection, you click the Hidden check box instead of the Locked check box on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box before you click OK.

Remember that changing the protection formatting of cell ranges in the worksheet does nothing in and of itself. It’s not until you turn on the protection for your worksheet that your unlocked and hidden cells work or appear any differently from the locked and unhidden cells. At that time, only unlocked cells accept edits, and only unhidden cells display their contents on the Formula bar when they contain the cell cursor.

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