How and why you should lock databases in Notion

Learn what a Notion database lock is, why you should use them, and how to do it.

Databases are the heart of Notion: almost everything you create in the service is a database. Since this is a collaborative service, those databases can be modified by anyone with write access. That’s intentional, but it can also be frustrating.

Let’s say you’ve created the perfect database for a project entry in Notion. You’ve spent hours creating it so you can help your teams work efficiently. Perhaps this database will serve as a documentation bible for the project or a dashboard. You might think that locking a database would prevent a user from making changes. That is not the case.

SEE: Recruitment kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

Now let’s imagine that you’ve built the perfect board for your team. This board is a work of art and you know that the slightest change could mean hours of troubleshooting. When you lock the database for that board, no one can make any changes to the board’s properties. They can still interact with it, adding new tasks and moving tasks, but they can’t make a single change to the board’s database unless you unlock the database.

This feature should be considered a must for any project manager working with Notion. You want to be able to prevent users from making changes to your databases. Consider this workflow:

  • You create the database for your board.
  • You lock the database.
  • Users use the dashboard but cannot change the database properties.
  • You discover an improvement you could make to the board.
  • It unlocks the database and modifies it when no one is using the tool.
  • Locks the database again.
  • Everyone starts using the improved board.

That’s the workflow you need in Notion, but how do you do it?

What you’ll need to lock a Notion database

All you’ll need is a valid Notion account and a database to lock down. That database can be in the form of anything in Notion, such as a board, task, calendar, table, or gallery. I’ll do a demo from the desktop app, but the steps are the same on the web version of the platform.

How to lock a database in Notion

Log in to your Notion account and then locate the database you want to lock. In my example, I’m going to lock the database for one dashboard: by state. With Notion open, you should see this in the Favorites list (Figure A).

Figure A

The Notion Favorites panel.

With the dashboard open, you should see a three-dot menu button in the top right corner. Click that button, and from the resulting popup menu (Figure B), you should see the Lock Database entry.

Figure B

The Notion menu includes the Lock Database entry.
The Notion menu includes the Lock Database entry.

Click Lock Database on that menu to lock the database. At this point, no one can make changes to the database and only you have the power to unlock it. Once the database is locked, you will see the Locked indication at the top of the window (Figure C).

Figure C

Our Notion database is now locked.
Our Notion database is now locked.

How to unlock a database in Notion

Unlocking the database is just as easy: open the menu again and select Unlock Database. Remember, only you can do this, and you should only unlock it when you’re sure no one is using the database. If you just unlock it randomly, you can do it at a time when another user can make changes to the database properties. You don’t want that, so use the function wisely.


That’s all there is to locking a Notion database and why you’d want to use the feature. This is a great way to prevent someone from “accidentally” making unwanted changes to features you create in your Notion workspaces.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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