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Microsoft brought this version out last July, but I missed it.  It can be downloaded here.  What kind of personal data is buried in Office documents?  Quite a bit, actually.  Here is what the tool removes:

  • Comments.
  • Previous authors and editors.
  • User name.
  • Personal summary information.
  • Revision marks. The tool accepts all revisions specified in the document. As a result, the contents of the document will correspond to the Final Showing Markup view on the Reviewing toolbar.
  • Deleted text. This data is removed automatically.
  • Versions.
  • VB Macros. Descriptions and comments are removed from the modules.
  • The ID number used to identify your document for the purpose of merging changes back into the original document.
  • Routing slips.
  • E-mail headers.
  • Scenario comments.
  • Unique identifiers (Office 97 documents only).

Old versions and deleted data are probably the most important functions.  The Remove Hidden Data tool also turns on the Remove Personal Information feature to help keep things clean from then on.  It does have some problems.  Here are a few.

  • Excel: In Excel 2002, printer paths are not removed; however, they are removed in Excel 2003.
  • Excel: The link to a supporting external workbook may not be cleaned from an Excel single-file Web page.
  • If the Remove Hidden Data add-in shuts down unexpectedly, an empty Notepad window may appear and a log file may be left in your temporary directory.
  • If you close the Remove Hidden Data add-in before it is finished reviewing a document, one or more temporary files may be left in the destination directory.
  • Single-file Web pages that have been reviewed by this tool may contain the name of a randomly generated temporary file in the form file:///c://. The number used in this name is based on the file name of the single-file web page and cannot be traced back to your computer.
  • Existing hidden random numbers, used to improve merge accuracy and stored in Word files, are not removed.
  • When run from the command line, the Remove Hidden Data add-in does not work on XML documents created in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

When done, the add-in executes a Save As so you can save the clean file with a new name.  You should run the add-in on files when you are ready to publish them. This is because some information removed by the tool is used by Office for collaboration features, such as Track Changes, Comments, and Send for Review, and these collaboration features will not work after using the add-in.  If you don't care about the collaboration features, running this add-in is something you should do before sending out Office files.

Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 7:59 AM Software , & Etc. | Back to top

Comments on this post: Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data

# re: Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data
Requesting Gravatar...
wery important tool
Left by Ivan on Feb 05, 2008 3:40 AM

# re: Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data
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Much like the spell checker :)
Left by alex on Apr 28, 2008 6:33 AM

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