Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents

If you plan to share an electronic copy of a Microsoft Word document with clients or colleagues, it is a good idea to review the document for hidden data or personal information that might be stored in the document itself or in the document properties (metadata (metadata: Data that describes other data. For example, the words in a document are data; the word count is an example of metadata.)). Because this hidden information can reveal details about your organization or about the document itself that you might not want to share publicly, you might want to remove this hidden information before you share the document with other people.

This article describes how the Document Inspector feature in Word can help you find and remove hidden data and personal information in your documents.

In this article


Find and remove hidden data and personal information

You can use the Document Inspector to find and remove hidden data and personal information in Word documents. It is a good idea to use the Document Inspector before you share an electronic copy of your Word document, such as in an e-mail attachment.

  1. Open the Word document that you want to inspect for hidden data and personal information.
  2. Click the File tab, click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original document.

 Important   It is a good idea to use the Document Inspector on a copy of your original document, because it is not always possible to restore the data that the Document Inspector removes.

  1. In the copy of your original document, click the File tab, and then click Info.
  2. Under Prepare for Sharing, click Check for Issues, and then click Inspect Document.
  3. In the Document Inspector dialog box, select the check boxes to choose the types of hidden content that you want to be inspected. For more information about the individual Inspectors, see Information the Document Inspector finds and removes.
  4. Click Inspect.
  5. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector dialog box.
  6. Click Remove All next to the inspection results for the types of hidden content that you want to remove from your document.

 Important   

  • If you remove hidden content from your document, you might not be able to restore it by clicking Undo.
  • If you want to remove hidden data and personal information from documents you save in the OpenDocument Text (.odt) format, you must run the Document Inspector every time that you save the document in this format.

Top of Page Top of Page

Types of hidden data and personal information

Several types of hidden data and personal information can be saved in a Word document. This information might not be immediately visible when you view the document in Word, but it might be possible for other people to view or retrieve the information.

Hidden information can include the data that Word adds to a document to enable you to collaborate on writing and editing it with other people. It can also include information that you deliberately designate as hidden.

Word documents can contain the following types of hidden data and personal information:

  • Comments, revision marks from tracked changes, versions, and ink annotations     If you collaborated with other people to create your document, your document might contain items such as revision marks from tracked changes, comments, ink annotations, or versions. This information can enable other people to see the names of people who worked on your document, comments from reviewers, and changes that were made to your document.
  • Document properties and personal information     Document properties, also known as metadata (metadata: Data that describes other data. For example, the words in a document are data; the word count is an example of metadata.), include details about your document such as author, subject, and title. Document properties also include information that is automatically maintained by Office programs, such as the name of the person who most recently saved a document and the date when a document was created. If you used specific features, your document might also contain additional kinds of personally identifiable information (PII) (personally identifiable information (PII): Any information that can be used to identify a person, such as a name, address, e-mail address, government ID, IP address, or any unique identifier associated with PII in another program.), such as e-mail headers, send-for-review information, routing slips, and template names.
  • Headers, footers, and watermarks     Word documents can contain information in headers and footers. Additionally, you might have added a watermark to your Word document.
  • Hidden text     Word documents can contain text that is formatted as hidden text. If you do not know whether your document contains hidden text, you can use the Document Inspector to search for it.
  • Document server properties     If your document was saved to a location on a document management server, such as a Document Workspace site or a library based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, the document might contain additional document properties or information related to this server location.
  • Custom XML data     Documents can contain custom XML data that is not visible in the document itself. The Document Inspector can find and remove this XML data.

Top of Page Top of Page

Information the Document Inspector find and remove

In Word, the Document Inspector displays several different Inspectors that enable you to find and remove hidden data and personal information that is specific to Word documents. For a list of the different types of hidden data and personal information that the Document Inspector can find and remove from Word documents, review the following table.


 Notes 

  • If your organization customized the Document Inspector by adding Inspector modules, you might be able to check your documents for additional types of information.
  • If you are using Microsoft Word Starter 2010, not all the features listed for Word are supported in Word Starter. For more information about the features available in Word Starter, see Word Starter feature support.
Inspector name Finds and removes

Comments, Revisions, Versions, and Annotations

 Note   In Word Starter 2010, Document Inspector removes only versions and annotations.

  • Comments
  • Revision marks from tracked changes
  • Document version information
  • Ink annotations
Document Properties and Personal Information
  • Document properties, including information from the Summary, Statistics, and Custom tabs of the Document Properties dialog box
  • E-mail headers
  • Routing slips
  • Send-for-review information
  • Document server properties
  • Document Management Policy information
  • Content type information
  • Databinding link information for databound fields (last value will be converted to text)
  • User name
  • Template name
Headers, Footers, and Watermarks
  • Information in document headers
  • Information in document footers
  • Watermarks
Hidden Text
  • Text that is formatted as hidden (a font effect that is available in the Font dialog box)

 Note   This Inspector cannot detect text that was hidden by other methods (for example, white text on a white background).

Custom XML Data
  • Custom XML data that might be stored within a document
Invisible Content
  • Objects that are not visible, because they have been formatted as invisible.

 Note   This Inspector cannot detect objects that are covered by other objects.

Top of Page Top of Page