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Recently, I bumped into a file a former colleague of mine made. When he left the school, he abandoned the Excel file. It was a great tool, but legislation changed and I had to adapt some text in a worksheet. Unfortunately, the sheets and the workbook were password protected. With some online help from a free tool, I managed to remove the password and update the file...

 

 

How to bypass the password?

At first, all Google showed me, were a bunch of free applets that told me they could remove the password... but I had to flip out some money to actually get access to my document. Then I bumped into Straxx... They're offering the Excel Password Remover. There's a free version that helps you out for personal use only. If you're a business user, you should go and buy the PRO version (yeah, if you want to be legal, you have to, so you should).

Where the free version succeeded in removing passwords from sheets and the workbook, the PRO version has some addes bonuses:

  • The password is displayed (a password that works, but most probably not the original one)
  • One command removal of all sheet and workbook structure protection passwords in the active workbook
  • No annoying pop-up when you start Excel with Password Remover PRO
  • No expiration date. (The free version must be upgraded at the end of each year)
  • Removal of sharing password (on demand only)
  • Legal for business users

Is it safe?

Anyhow - the free version does what you expect from it. Now, being a bit critical, I suspected that this could possibly contain malware, and I searched around. According to Webutation.net, this site does not contain any malicious software. Google, Norton and McAfee clear out the application on their sites.

Okay... so now that I'm pretty assured that the tool is safe for my computer, the next thing is to install it... The download is actually a file with the extension .xlam. This extension refers to the Excel Add-in format. To run it, you open it in Excel, and a script will start running.

Using Straxx Excel Password Remover

Once you installed the plugin, a new tab appears in the ribbon...

straxx demo

Three nice buttons appear when you now open Excel.
 Using the add-in is really easy: just open the excel file you need and go to the appropriate sheet... now click on "Unprotect sheet" if this sheet is protected and you need to unprotect it. The option "Unprotect workbook" allows you to remove the master password on the workbook. Note though that the program only removes passwords once the file is open. If you need a password to open the file, you'll have to look for a different tool... The Straxx site offers a few links on their site too.

The last button looks really promising... "Unprotect all" ... well, to put it short: you'll have to pay for that feature. It's an small ad for the paid version. Fair enough, in my opinion.

Removing the add-in

Okay, but now I have this new tab on my ribbon that's just sitting there (and annoying me) all the time. I used the program and now want to get rid of it. Here's what I need to do:

  1. Shut down (all instances of) Excel
  2. Use your favorite file browser with search functionality (I love to use Total Commander)
  3. Go and search for the file you installed (password_2007_2010.xlam)
    • In my case (and probably yours too) it was located there: c:\Users\<MyAccount>\AppData\Local\Temp\password_2007_2010.xlam
  4. Delete the file
  5. Launch Excel - the tab will be gone from your ribbon.

Now, your Excel is as it was before.

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