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Anonymize Metadata in a Word File

Sometimes editors don’t want their work time-stamped, as MS Word does automatically when tracking changes or comments. Or the editor wants the “user name” removed from the tracked changes because they used someone else’s computer, for example. They don’t want the client thinking they outsourced the work without permission.

There are two ways to change the user name tags on comments and tracked changes. One method is to use the Compare Documents function, which lets you specify a user name for all the changes found between two documents, giving them all identical time stamps. We’ll talk about that more in another post.

The other way we’ll discuss here is removing all personal data from the file. That means the tracked changes, comments, and metadata will no longer contain your name, address, etc., or anyone else’s. All changes remain tracked and all comments stay in place. They simply get tagged with “Author” instead of a name.

How to Remove Personal Data

  • On a Mac, go to Tools > Protect Document… > and check the “Remove personal information form this file on save” option in the Privacy area at the bottom of the dialogue box.
  • In Windows, select Info on the File ribbon, then in the Inspect Document area, pick Inspect Document from the list that opens for the Check for Issues icon. In the Document Inspector dialogue that opens, click Document Properties and Personal Information, then click the Remove All button beside the line that says it found personal information. (See the figure here.)

Troubleshooting

Both methods of removing the user data from a file affect ALL changes and comments in the document. So if there are comments from different members of the team, those will become indistinguishable. To retrieve or revert to show multiple users, you’ll have to recover a previous version of the file.

a map "locator pin" styled as the MS Word logo
Learn more tips for customizing Word in Chapters 33 & 34 of the book.

Once a file is set to remove all personal information, it will do so on every save, even after you close the file and send it to the next stage of production. So remember to deselect that option if you want future changes to be tagged with the user’s name.


Want to anonymize your PDF markup? Check out these instructions.



Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.



© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

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