Hiding Your Formulas

Category: Formulas | [Item URL]

Q. I've created some clever formulas, and I don't want anyone else to see them. Is it possible to hide the formulas but display the results?

Every cell has two key properties: locked and hidden. A locked cell can't be changed, and the contents of a hidden cell don't appear in the formula bar when the cell is selected. By default, every cell is locked and not hidden. But it's important to remember that these attributes have no effect unless the worksheet itself is protected.

First, to change the attributes, select the appropriate cell or range and then choose Format, Cells. In the Format Cells dialog box, click the Protection tab and select Locked or Hidden (or both). Unlock cells that accept user input, and lock formula and other cells that should stay unchanged (such as titles). To prevent others from seeing your formulas, lock and hide the formula cells: The results of the formulas will be visible, but the formulas will not.

Now, to protect the worksheet, choose Tools, Protection, Protect Sheet to bring up the Protect Sheet dialog box. Make sure the Contents box is checked. You can enter a password to prevent others from unprotecting the sheet. Locked cells in a protected sheet cannot be edited, and other worksheet changes are disabled. For example, no one can insert rows or columns, change column width, or create embedded charts.

NOTE: Keep in mind that it is very easy to break the password for a protected sheet. If you are looking for real security, this is not the solution.

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