Strip Personal Information from Word Documents

By Neil J. Rubenking  |  Posted 2003-11-11 Print this article Print

Word files contain author and company information you may not want to pass along to the public. Here's how to get rid of it.

In Microsoft Word 2002, when I select Properties from the File menu and click on the Summary tab, I see information I dont always want to share with others. For example, how do I clear the company and author lines? What if I want my e-mail to be anonymous? Is there any way to accomplish this without modifying the properties for every file?

David E.

The company and author name may be the least of your worries. Have you ever written a venomous letter and then edited it down to something less offensive? If youve enabled the fast save feature, earlier versions of your document may still be present. If the document was edited with Track Changes enabled, a name is associated with each change. Fortunately, you can get rid of all the personal information with a few simple settings.

Choose Options from the Tools menu, click on the Save tab, and uncheck the box labeled Allow fast saves. Now click on the Security tab and check the box titled Remove personal information from this file on save. In Word 2003, as shown in the screenshot above, the check boxs title is slightly different: Remove personal information from file properties on save. When you save the file, the Author, Manager, Company, and Last saved by fields are cleared. Names in comments or edits are changed to simply Author. Any routing slip or e-mail header information is also removed. If the document contains tracked changes, you may want to accept them all before saving.

The Allow fast saves option is global and is present in Word 2000 also. The Remove personal information option is specific to the current file and is present only in Word 2002 and later. If you want that option to be the default, click on the File Locations tab in the Tools | Options dialog and note the folder containing user templates. In that folder, open the file Check the Remove personal information box as noted above, then save and close the file. All new files created from this point on will have that feature enabled by default.

Neil J. Rubenking Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990 he had become PC Magazine's technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. His 'User to User' column supplied readers with tips and solutions on using DOS and Windows, his technical columns clarified fine points in programming and operating systems, and his utility articles (over forty of them) provided both useful programs and examples of programming in Pascal, Visual Basic, and Delphi. Mr. Rubenking has also written seven books on DOS, Windows, and Pascal/Delphi programming, including PC Magazine DOS Batch File Lab Notes and the popular Delphi Programming for Dummies. In his current position as a PC Magazine Lead Analyst he evaluates and reports on client-side operating systems and security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and full security suites. He continues to answer questions for readers in the ongoing 'Solutions' column and in PC Magazine's discussion forums.

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