- Crack Microsoft Excel Password Instructions
- Step 1: Make a Backup of Your File
- Step 2: Check your file format
- Step 3: Disassemble your Document
- Step 4: Remove Password Protection
- Make your Changes
- Alternate Disassembly Instructions – Windows Archive Tool
- Remove Excel File Password Protection
- Alternate Instructions for Reassembly
- What Does VBA Password Restrict in XLSX & XLSM Files?
- VBA Macro Password Removal in Excel 2007 (XLSX & XLSM File)
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It is always annoying when forgetting passwords. It is also annoying when you inherit a document from a previous employee and it is protected by a password only they knew. But your boss asked for you to get the data from that spreadsheet and change some things and Right now! What are you going to do?
Well the good news is that if the document isn’t encrypted, this process is pretty straightforward. You will be up and running in no time! AND you don’t have to spend $40 on some software you will use only once.
If you need to crack a Word Document as well, check out my Crack Microsoft Word Password Free post.
Crack Microsoft Excel Password Instructions
These instructions cover the process of breaking edit/read only protection on Microsoft Excel workbooks and worksheets. This WILL NOT work on Excel files that have been encrypted.
There can be a number of reasons for breaking password protection on an Excel file. Before we start, please note that I take zero responsibility for the results of these instructions. You are the master of your own actions and by proceeding, you take full responsibility of your own actions.
Step 1: Make a Backup of Your File
You will be making changes to the internal structure of your document. It is good practice to create backups before starting.
Step 2: Check your file format
This will only work on Excel files that are 2007, 2010, 2013 and have “.xlsx, .xlsm” formats. If your document is in an older format “.xls” from Excel 2003 or older, open in Excel 2007, 2010, or 2013 and save as an “.xlsx file”. If your excel file has macros, save as an “.xlsm” file to enable macros.
Step 3: Disassemble your Document
Because the .xlsx file format is based on a tree structure with XML files, it is easy to disassemble. For this example, I protected both the individual worksheet and workbook on my sample excel file. We will break this protection by changing some settings in the file.
For the disassembly process, the main file compression utility in windows will work just fine. For the first part of this demo, I am using WinRAR (Free to download). If you can’t install WinRAR, please scroll down to see the alternate disassembly process using the Windows built-in file compression tool.
Disassembly with WinRAR:
- Open WinRAR and click the File menu.
- Select Open archive.
- Set the file type at the bottom from “all archives” to “all files”.
- Locate your Excel file and click “Open”
Step 4: Remove Password Protection
The root view of the excel file structure:
The files you are going to edit are in the xl folder that is circled in red.
For Workbook(whole excel file) Settings:
For Individual Worksheet File Settings:
xl>worksheets>sheet1.xml [sheet2.xml] – etc…
Make your Changes
Browse to xl>workbook.xml and double click on the file. If you are prompted to select an application, always select NOTEPAD – NOT WORDPAD!
If you are unfamiliar with XML, this might look strange. Find the line that looks like:
Change lockStructure=”1″ to lockStructure=”0″
Save and Close the XML file you just edited
WinRAR will tell you that “workbook.xml” was modified and ask you to update it in the archive. Select YES.
Browse to xl>worksheets>sheet1.xml(or sheet2, sheet3, etc…) and double click on the file.
Delete the whole line that looks like:
Save and Close the XML file you just edited
When prompted to update the archive with the file you just modified, select YES.
Close out of WinRAR and Open your file.
NOTE: If you are using Excel 2010, the following buttons may need to be clicked on to “unstick” them:
Once unstuck, you should now be able to edit the document as you please.
Alternate Disassembly Instructions – Windows Archive Tool
By default, file extensions are hidden for common document types. You will need to change your folder settings to show file extensions.
Here are some instructions that should cover Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7:
Once you can see the file extension of your Excel Document file, change the file extension from .xlsx, .xlsm to .zip – after the change, you will get a warning that you are changing the extension. Click OK or YES to accept.
Now that your file is in a .zip format, right-click on your file and select Open With>Windows Explorer
Click “Extract all Files”, select your file destination and click “Extract”
Remove Excel File Password Protection
Refer to Step 4 above for changes
Make your changes, save your files and move to the next step
Alternate Instructions for Reassembly
- Select all your files (_rels,docProps,xl,[Content_Types].xml, etc…), right-click and select: Send to>Compressed (zipped) folder. If you create your archive by selecting your main folder and not all of the files, you may run into errors when re-opening.
- Change the file extension of your archive back to the original – .xlsx, .xlsm. When prompted to confirm changing the file extension, select yes.
- You should be able to open your fixed excel file. NOTE: your new filename will be whatever file you right-clicked on to create the archive. Feel free to change it back.
Please comment if you get stuck. Likewise if you have other questions or improvements.
I found this VBA code to unlock sheets without knowing the password:
My question is: What kind of exploit does it use to work?
In other words, how come this generated string of A’s and B’s can be used as the password to a sheet inside a particular workbook ?
27.3k ● 20 ● 99 ● 142
The Excel worksheet password protection works by converting the input password to a hash and stores it. A hash is a one-way algorithm that crunches up the bits, losing some information along the way, but generating a fingerprint of the original data. Because of the loss of data, it is impossible to reverse a hash to get the original password, but in the future if someone types in a password it can be hashed and compared against the stored hash. This (usually) makes it more secure than simply storing the password as a string to compare against.
The best description by far I’ve encountered of how brute forcing the Excel hashing algorithm works is on the page @mehow links to, posted by Torben Klein. His answer can be summed up as:
- The Excel hash function maps the large space of possible passwords to the small space of possible hashes.
- Because the hashing algorithm generates such small hashes, 15 bits, the number of possible hashes is 2^15 = 32768 hashes.
- 32768 is a tiny number of things to try when computing power is applied. Klein derives a subset of the input passwords that cover all of the possible hashes.
Based on this description of Excel’s hashing function, the following code generates the same hash as Excel which you can use to test Klein’s function.
It is a misconception that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language passwords in Excel spreadsheets of XLSX or XLSM format cannot be broken. There are few programs available with definite algorithms that can decode VBA project password for all versions of Excel including 2007. MS Excel 2007 creates XLSX file by default whereas it forms XLSM file when macros are enabled. Hence, though developers apply Visual Basic Application password to prevent access to the pass-code of the VBA macro, it is possible to crack VBA project password in Excel 2007 worksheet and workbook. Several programmers have devised ways to clear the applied password that allows users to gain accessibility like viewing, editing, etc. The present blog goes into exploring the different ways that can be employed to break the passwords.
What Does VBA Password Restrict in XLSX & XLSM Files?
A password or cipher can be applied by the developers to lock the VBA macro so as to prevent end users from viewing and modifying the Excel VBA project modules and User Forms in the XLSX files. Moreover, when it is tried to expand the project it prompts for a password. Same is the case with macro enabled VBA macro created in Excel worksheets that forms XLSM file. An end user is allowed to use the macros but restricted to view or modify the embedded macros unless password created by the developers is known. Hence, in such cases utilization of Excel macro tool becomes necessary in addition to de-coding VBA password in Excel 2007 XLSX files. Also if the end users are the developer themselves, it is quite possible that he/she has forgotten the password.
Note – XLSM files are same as .xlsx files but with macros enabled. However, because of security concerns Excel does not enable macros by default and forms .xlsx files by default.
VBA Macro Password Removal in Excel 2007 (XLSX & XLSM File)
This section provides different methods that can be utilized by users who have lost or forgotten the Visual Basic Application password from .xlsx & .xlsm files. The methods as how to crack VBA macro password in Excel 2007 is explored in this section.
Cracking Excel XLSX File VBA Password with 7-Zip Software
This method utilizes 7-Zip software which is free-of-cost, Open Source File Archiver. With this method, VBA password from files of .xlsx format (combination of ZIP compression and XML architecture) can be cleared and not actually cracked. The below mentioned steps must be followed in sequential manner.
Steps Are Shown Below:
- Open the Excel 2007 XLSX file with 7-Zip.
- Browse to xl/worksheets/ folder.
- Right click on the sheet1.xml, sheet2.xml, etc. and chose option Edit.
- Find the portion
- Clear the encrypted password (i.e. )
- Thereafter, save the file.
- When 7-Zip prompts to update the archive it should be allowed.
- Close 7-Zip and re-open the XLSX file.
- Click Unprotect Sheet on the ‘Review’ button.
- Finally save the file after removal of password.
VBA Password Cracking Using ‘HxD Hex Editor’ Software
XLS files manage the VBA password by simply comparing the strings. Therefore, one method for cracking the password is simply by swapping the password entry in the file using hex editor tool. This method follows the algorithm of forming a spreadsheet with a known password and then copying in the appropriate fields. This method works correctly a lot of time. However, if it is tried to paste the wrong number of bytes into the file the VBA project shall get lost while opening the file with Excel.
Note 1 – Here, in this method the Excel 2007 XLSM file must first be saved in .xls format.
Note 2 – In this method HxD – Freeware Hex Editor, a simple disk editor software application has been used to break-in into the password.
- Create a backup of the file at a safe location.
- Make a new Excel file of .xls format.
- In the VBA part (ALT + F11) setup any simple password (E.g.234).
- For this, first click upon Tools tab as shown in the image below.
- Then in the window, VBA Project – Project Properties, go to ‘Protection’ tab enter the password and confirm password field to view properties of the project.
- Then setup any random password of choice and click OK as shown in the image below.
- Save the file and then exit.
- Open the created-file, with ‘Hex editor’
- Copy the lines starting with the following keys in the HxD tool as shown in the figure below.
- Open the file of which the VBA password has to be cracked with Hex Editor and paste the copied CMG, DPB and GC lines from the dummy file that had been created earlier.
- Thereafter, save the Excel file and then exit.
- Lastly, open the Excel file of which the VBA password has to be broken. The password for the VBA code will simply be 234, the same as set in Step 3.
VBA Password Cracking Using ‘XVI32 Hex Editor’ Software
Note 1 – Here, in this method the Excel 2007 XLSM file must first be saved in .xls format.
Note 2 – In this method XVI32 Hex Editor, a simple disk editor software application has been used for cracking the password.
- Download the XVI32 Hex Editor application.
- Save the workbook as XLS file and make a backup copy.
- Open the workbook in the XVI32 Hex Editor that looks like the one shown in the image below.
- Locate and replace the DPB keyword as displayed in the figure below.
- The text string actually point to Excel file tag for the VBA password.
- In order to get around the VBA Password prompt, users just need to mess the tag a bit. This can be done by simply changing the DPB to DPX (i.e. the letter B must be replaced with X).
- Close the editor and save the alterations made.
- Open the newly formed Excel workbook. On doing this a pop as shown in the figure below will come up on the screen where the option ‘Yes’ must be clicked upon.
- At times, an error with code 40230 many also occur, which must be ignored.
- Finally, the VBA protection must be removed. This can be done by visiting the Visual Basic Editor (Alt+F11) and then selecting View>>Project Explorer. Then right click on the VBA Project for the Excel workbook and select VBAProject Properties as displayed in the image below.
- In the ‘Project Properties’ dialog box, go to the Protection tab and clear all selections and text in the password field as displayed in the figure below.
- Lastly, save and close the newly created unprotected Excel spreadsheet. Now, if the new Excel 2007 worksheet is opened it will not have any VBA password.
Undoubtedly, all the three above described free manual methods can be utilized to crack VBA project password in Excel 2007 worksheet. However, success is not guaranteed and depends on the user’s technical knowhow to execute the procedures correctly. The methods also do not ensure 100% success always. Therefore, to achieve cent percent outcome any external tool is indeed essential to be brought in use. Although several professional utilities are available, the one which can be relied upon is VBA Password Remover. – One stop solution to unlock and erase VBA password. It is featured by numerous advanced capabilities like the one’s mentioned below:
- Effectively replace password from single VBA document with ease.
- MS Office editions like 2007, 2003, 2000, 97 & XP are supported.
- Supports mot just XLSX and XLSM file but .doc, .xls, .xls, .mdb, etc.
- Retrieves password of any length efficiently in simple manner.
- Erases older password and generates a new one.
- Can recover multilingual VBA macro password too.