ianeon 18:34 06 Jul 04

I have just read an article about Microsoft Word. In it it said that "Word document files contain alot more information than you see on the screen. Depending on the version of Word you are using, it will include your name and company name, the name of your computer and network server or hard disc where the document is stored, the names of anyone else who has worked on the document", etc. etc. Is there a way of deleting this information? I would not want personal information like this available to all and sundry. OR am I being paranoid about security ? Thank yo for your time - Ian

  VoG II 18:37 06 Jul 04

click here


Remove personal or hidden information
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Hide All
Before you give others a copy of the document, it's a good idea to review personal and hidden information, and decide whether it's appropriate to include. You may want to remove some information from the document and from the document file properties before you share the document with others.

Note If you save a document in a file format that can be read by a great number of programs besides Microsoft Word— for example, .txt, .htm, .mht, and .xml formats— any personal information described in this topic is easily viewed by anyone who has permission to open the file. By saving a document in a Word file format (.doc or .dot), even those individuals with permission to open the file cannot necessarily find personal information easily. For example, if changes to content are password-protected, only users who know the password can see who has been granted permission to edit certain parts of the document.

Where is personal or hidden information stored?

File Properties
These properties include Author, Manager, Company, and Last Saved By.

Some Word features use the personal information in file properties. When you remove this information, these features may not work as desired. Removing personal information affects the following features:

Send to Mail Recipient (for Review)
Tracked changes
Information Rights Management
Online collaboration
Document Workspace sites
Letters and mailings
Comments (names are removed)
Metadata-based search engines, such as FindFast and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server search engines (documents can be indexed by limited data only, such as content and title)
Other hidden information
For example, hidden text, revised text, comments, or field codes can remain in a document even though you don’t see such information or expect it to be in the final version. If you entered personal information, such as your name or e-mail address, when you registered your software, some Microsoft Office documents store that information as part of the document. Information contained in custom fields that you add to the document, such as an "author" or "owner" field, is not automatically removed. You must edit or remove the custom field to remove that information.

Remove personal information from file properties
When you use this procedure, the following personal information is removed from your document:

File properties: Author, Manager, Company, Last saved by.
Names, date, and time associated with comments (comment: A note or annotation that an author or reviewer adds to a document. Microsoft Word displays the comment in a balloon in the margin of the document or in the Reviewing Pane.) or tracked changes (tracked change: A mark that shows where a deletion, insertion, or other editing change has been made in a document.): Names are changed to "Author." Date and time are removed.
Routing slip: The routing slip is removed.
The e-mail message header that's generated with the E-mail button is removed.
Versioning: The name under Saved by is changed to "Author."
On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Security tab.
Select the Remove personal information from file properties on save check box.
Save the document.
Remove other hidden information
Remove hidden information by checking the following features:

  VoG II 18:38 06 Jul 04

Tracked changes and comments

To quickly display tracked changes (tracked change: A mark that shows where a deletion, insertion, or other editing change has been made in a document.) or comments (comment: A note or annotation that an author or reviewer adds to a document. Microsoft Word displays the comment in a balloon in the margin of the document or in the Reviewing Pane.), click Markup on the View menu.
On the Reviewing toolbar, click Next , and then click Accept Change or Reject Change to make the revisions permanent.
Accept or reject changes until there are no more tracked changes in the document.

Clicking Markup on the View menu will show or hide all markup (markup: Comments and tracked changes such as insertions, deletions, and formatting changes. View markup when you want to process tracked changes and comments. Print a document with markup to keep a record of changes made to a document.) in the document. When you show all markup, all types of markup and all reviewers' names will be selected on the Show menu.
If you hide a type of markup by clearing it on the Show menu, the markup automatically appears each time the document is opened unless you clear the Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving check box on the Security tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu). Even if you clear this check box, the markup is still in the document and can be revealed by selecting the type of markup on the Show menu.
Text formatted with the Hidden attribute

To view hidden text (hidden text: Character formatting that allows you to show or hide specified text. Microsoft Word indicates hidden text by underlining it with a dotted line.), click Options on the Tools menu, click the View tab, and then select the Hidden text check box under Formatting marks.

To omit hidden text in a printed document, click Options on the Tools menu, click the Print tab, and then clear the Hidden text check box under Include with document. If you plan to distribute the document online, just delete the hidden text as you would delete any other text.

  VoG II 18:38 06 Jul 04

Previous versions of a document

If you specified that Microsoft Word save one or more versions of your document in the same file, those versions are saved as hidden information in the document, so that you can retrieve them later. Because versions of a document are available to others and because they do not remain hidden if you or someone else saves the document in another format, you may want to remove the versions before you share the document.

If you want to keep the previous versions, save the current version as a separate document, and then distribute only that document.

On the File menu, click Versions.
Click the version of the document you want to save as a separate file.
Click Open.
On the File menu, click Save As.
In the File name box, enter a name, and then click Save.
If you don't want to keep the previous versions, delete the unwanted versions, and then distribute the document.

On the File menu, click Versions.
Click the version of the document you want to delete.
To select more than one version, hold down CTRL as you click each version.
Click Delete.

Because AutoText entries are stored in files, do not use AutoText entries to store sensitive data in files that you distribute.
Field Codes

Do one of the following:

To show or hide the field code (field code: Placeholder text that shows where specified information from your data source will appear; the elements in a field that generate a field's result. The field code includes the field characters, field type, and instructions.) for a specific field, click the field or the field results (field results: Text or graphics inserted in a document when Microsoft Word carries out a field's instructions. When you print the document or hide field codes, the field results replace the field codes.), and then press SHIFT+F9.
To show or hide field codes for all fields in the document, press ALT+F9.
Note Because field codes can be visible to anyone reading your document, be sure that the information you place in field codes is not information that you want kept private.

Fast save

If you save a document with the Allow fast saves check box selected and then open the document as a text file, the document may contain information that you previously deleted. This happens because a "fast save" appends the changes you make to the end of the document; it doesn't incorporate the changes (including deleted information) into the document itself.

To completely remove the deleted information from the document, do the following:

If you opened the document as a text file, close the text file and open the document as a regular Word document.
On the Tools menu, click Options, click the Save tab, and then clear the Allow fast saves check box.
On the File menu, click Save.
Random number to improve merge

When you compare and merge documents, Microsoft Word uses randomly generated numbers to help keep track of related documents. Although these numbers are hidden, they could potentially be used to demonstrate that two documents are related. If you choose not to store these numbers, the results of merged documents will be less than optimal.

On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Security tab.
Clear the Store random number to improve merge accuracy check box.
Exceptions to document protection

If you select a part of a protected document and grant permission to edit it, this information is stored with the document. To help prevent this information from being viewed, enforce protection with a password or with document encryption.
In the Start enforcing protection dialog box, do one of the following:
Click Password, and then type and confirm a password in the boxes provided.
Click User authentication.
Your documents and Microsoft
Unless you send your document to Microsoft, Microsoft does not have access to any information from your document.

  ianeon 19:28 06 Jul 04

Thank you for the quick response - I have downloaded your reply - I shall study what you have written over "tea & biscuit" - Ian

  Forum Editor 19:49 06 Jul 04


But then what's wrong with a little healthy paranoia in the right context? I always think that it's good to be informed about such things, even if you decide to take no action, and in the case of Word documents I think you'll find that the vast majority of them never reveal the additional information to anyone - because nobody is interested. For a security risk to be a danger there has to be a chance that someone will want to take the risk, and someone else will want to exploit it. I'm in no danger of being robbed in the street unless I am perceived as a target by a robber - I have to be in the same place and at the same time as the robber, and look like an attractive target. The same applies with Word documents. I've used them in their thousands for many years, and as far as I'm aware nobody has ever exploited the hiddeen information they contain - I've certainly suffered no ill effects.

Enjoy your tea and biscuits, and enjoy reading VoG™'s helpful and comprehensive text - then make your judgment about what (if any) action you'll take, but for goodness sake don't lose a moment's sleep worrying about this risk - it's miniscule.

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