Restore access to OLD password protected Word and Excel 97-2003 when you forgot the password

Edited by Eng, Anonymous, Charmed, Clifford and 5 others

Have you ever faced a situation where you needed to open any old Office 97-2003 files, in programs like Word or Excel, made in a previous version like Office 2003, and found out it is password protected and you don't remember the password? If so, here is a FREE and simple way to recover the password

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Instructions

You can go to the link below, download, and install, then run a password recovery program from here: http://www.freewordexcelpassword.com/downloads/FreeWordExcelpasswordrecoverywizard.zip Below is a small explanation on how it works:

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  1. 1
    When running, the main window prompts you to download that latest version.
    Click "Next".
    1- PS.png
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  2. 2
    Now click on "Browse" and select the file for which you forgot the password.
    Click "Next".
    2- PS.png
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  3. 3
    You have two methods for the program to follow:
    "Dictionary Attack" uses a dictionary file and you can words from it if the password you forgot is a common word, and "Brute Force Attack" will try combination possibilities of characters to find a match, and that might take a lot of time. Click "Next".
    3- PS.png
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  4. 4
    On Brute Force Attack, you may choose a password length up to eight characters from a drop list.
    4- PS.png
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  5. 5
    On Brute Force Attack, you may also choose character sets from a drop list.
    For example, if you know that you have used numbers only in your passwords select that, which will reduce the needed time to discover the password. Click "Next".
    5- PS.png
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  6. 6
    Now you need to press "Go" to start.
    6- PS.png
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  7. 7
    When the password is found, you shall see it on a resulting window.
    7- PS.png
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Free password removal tools for Excel 97-2003

Aside from the free Word and Excel password recovery wizard, there are no totally free password recovery tools to open password protected Excel files. However there are several recovery tools that you could use, but they each come at a certain price. Some of the options are:

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  1. 1
    Stellar Phoenix Excel Password Recovery.
    You could download a free version, but it would only show the first three characters of the password. You could buy the full version from their site at www.stellarinfo.com/password-recovery/excel-password-recovery.php, which cost $29, down from the original price of $49, for single user.
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  2. 2
    Accent Office Password Recovery.
    You could try the free demo version, which could only show the first two characters of the password. What is noticeable with this tool is the capability to speed up the recovering time by using your GPU's power. This uses three methods of recovering a forgotten password which are brute force, mask and dictionary attack to greatly increase it success in recovering password. The full basic version could be downloaded from www.passwordrecoverytools.com/office-password.asp for $60.
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  3. 3
    In Fix Excel passwords Recovery.
    The free demo version will only show the first three characters of the password, with the rest hidden in asterisks. It offers two ways to retrieve your password, namely brute force and dictionary method. It can recover a password for Excel 97-2010 files. You could buy the full version of the software from www.excelpasswordrecoverysoftware.org/ for $19.95. This is considered one of the cheapest paid Excel password tools.
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Issues opening a password protected excel 97-2003 file

Changing the encryption options when setting a password to protect a file created with Microsoft Excel 2003 could pose potential headaches when opening the same file in earlier versions of the software.

In going about the password encryption process in Microsoft Excel 2003, the user is presented with options for the type of encryption to be employed. The default encryption type, while relatively weaker in strength, is highly compatible with the earlier versions of Excel. So if the user saves the password-protected Excel file without modifying any of the default parameters, he or she will most probably not encounter any issues in opening the file in 1997-2000 versions of Excel.

However, when the user opts to choose the stronger encryption options, it is more likely that backward compatibility issues may arise. When opening the password-protected 2003 Microsoft Excel file in the 97-2000 versions, the user might not be able to open the file even if the correct password is entered.

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To sum it up, here are a few tips to bear in mind when dealing with different versions of password-protected Excel files.

  1. 1
    Save the file with the default encryption option.
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  2. 2
    If a stronger type of encryption is really needed, seriously consider upgrading to a newer or, if possible, the newest version of Microsoft Excel.
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  3. 3
    Always install recommended updates for your Microsoft Office applications.
    These updates are usually intended to fix bugs and issues that could hamper your use of Microsoft Office products and services.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Always keep your passwords written in a safe place.
  • For files that aren't important to keep private, use simple passwords that are easy to remember.
  • This workaround is for files with passwords of eight characters or less. If you forgot your Excel 97-2003 password, this solution works all the time. However if the password is more than eight characters it will take too long to work.

Questions and Answers

I forgot my excel protect password. How to recover it?

I forgot my excel protect password. How to recover it?

The instructions provided earlier in this VisiHow guide include a link and screenshots of the steps you will need to follow to download and install your own password cracker to unlock your own documents in Word. Please scroll back to the top of the article, and you'll see that you can use the tool for both Word and Excel.

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Help me with my password issues, please?

Password issue with MS Excel not able to open a document

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Can't open password protected 97-2003 word document?

How to open 97-2003 word document that is password protected

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2003 excel file password removal?

Hi, I have an old 2003 excel file that asks a password that I cannot remember. How do I go about removing the password. I have tried: Many online and downloaded software, some just recover partially. I think it was caused by: Memory

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Recent edits by: Grimm, raju555, Michael J.

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