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Removing the Hidden Data in Microsoft Word

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Removing the Hidden Data in Microsoft Word

Most people don’t know that a Microsoft Word document retains a lot of hidden information that could be private, such as the history of the document, your personal information, annotations, and other invisible elements. Here’s how to remove it.

What Kind of Data?

Word allows you to leave comments and annotations throughout a document while reviewing it. Hidden metadata and personal information like the name of the author, company, and who last saved the file is stored, as well as watermarks. Obviously, you’ll want to clear those out when the final version is done. 

Especially With Personal Templates

A Word document will track and retain all content that was deleted. If you reuse a document to retain a similar look and feel, you are retaining a lot of text that isn’t intended to be in that file, and someone with a little know-how could pull it up.

Example

Let’s say you start with the same file for project proposals.  You just change some of the content around, save, and send it off. The content from the original proposal is still in the document. If the original document had sensitive information in it, it could become compromised.

How to Remove Hidden Information in a Word Document

It’s simple. Save your document and click File. Click Check for Issues and select the Inspect Document option.

The Document Inspector will pop up. Be sure all boxes are checked and then click Inspect.

The Document Inspector will tell you what types of information is stored in the document. The first two options are the most important for privacy – click Remove All next to Comments, Revisions, Versions, Annotations, Document Properties, and Personal Information. If the Document Inspector detects Invisible Content or Hidden Text, remove those as well and then close the Document Inspector.

Before you save your document, check it. Ensure that nothing was removed or adjusted visibly throughout the text.  Once you review the document, save it.

You now have a fresh document without information from previous versions. Done.

What’s your experience with hidden text? Anything you’d like to contribute? Leave a reply!

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