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Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents, presentations, or workbooks

When you share an electronic copy of certain Office documents with clients or colleagues, it is a good idea to review the document for hidden data or personal information. You can remove this hidden information before you share the document with other people. The Document Inspector feature in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Visio can help you find and remove hidden data and personal information in documents that you plan to share.

Hidden information can include:

  • hidden data or personal information that you might not want to share in Word documents

  • data Excel adds to a workbook when you collaborate with other people

  • hidden data or personal information in a PowerPoint that might be stored in the presentation or its metadata

  • document information and file properties in Visio documents

Note: Unless you send your document to Microsoft, Microsoft does not have access to any information from your document.

This article describes the types of information that are typically stored in Office documents so that you can decide what to keep and what to remove in the document or metadata. There is some information that the Document Inspector cannot remove, explained in the tables that accompany more details about Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

An electronic copy of a Word document that you share with clients or colleagues often contains hidden data or personal information that is stored in the document itself or in the document properties or metadata.

Tip: If you're just looking to not print comments, go to File > Print, click Print All Pages and uncheck Print Markup.

Types of hidden data and personal information

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've 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, things that you might not want to share outside of your team.

  • Document properties and personal information     Document properties, or 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), 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 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.

Find and remove hidden data and personal information with the Document Inspector

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.

Important: We highly recommend that you 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. 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.

    Note: In Word 2007: Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original document.

  3. In the copy of your original document, click the File tab, and then click Info.

    In Word 2007: In the copy of your original document, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , point to Prepare, and then click Inspect Document. Skip step 4, and proceed to step 5.

  4. Click Check for Issues, and then click Inspect Document.

  5. In the Document Inspector dialog box, select the check boxes to choose the types of hidden content that you want to be inspected.

  6. Click Inspect.

  7. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector dialog box.

  8. 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 that you save in the OpenDocument Text (.odt) format, you must run the Document Inspector every time that you save the document in that format.

What the Document Inspector finds and removes in Word documents

In Word, the Document Inspector displays several different Inspectors that allow 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.

When you share an electronic copy of an Excel workbook, make sure that you review the workbook for hidden data or personal information that might be stored in the workbook itself or its document properties (metadata).

The Document Inspector in Excel can help you find and remove hidden data and personal information in your workbooks.

Note: Although you can remove hidden data and personal information from workbooks you have sent to other people, if the Excel workbook has been saved as a Shared Workbook, you can't remove comments, annotations, document properties, and personal information. To remove this information from a shared workbook, first copy and turn off the Shared Workbook feature.

Find and remove hidden data and personal information

Document Inspector helps you find and remove hidden data and personal information in Excel workbooks. It's a good idea to use the Document Inspector before you share an electronic copy of your workbook, such as in an email attachment.

Important: We highly recommend that you use the Document Inspector on a copy of your original workbook, because it is not always possible to restore the data that the Document Inspector removes.

  1. Open the workbook you want to inspect for hidden data and personal information.

  2. Click File > Save As, and type a different name in the File name box to save a copy of your original workbook.

    Note: In Excel 2007: Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original workbook.

  3. In the copy of your original workbook, click File > Info.

    In Excel 2007: In the copy of your original workbook, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , point to Prepare, and then click Inspect Document. Skip step 4, and proceed to step 5.

  4. Click Check for Issues, and then click Inspect Document.

  5. In the Document Inspector box, check the boxes of the types of hidden content you want to be inspected. For more information about the individual inspectors, see Information the Document Inspector finds and removes

  6. Click Inspect.

  7. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector box.

  8. Click Remove All next to the inspection results for the types of hidden content you want to remove from your document.

    Important: 

    • If you remove hidden content from your workbook, you might not be able to restore it by clicking Undo.

    • If you remove hidden rows, columns, or worksheets that contain data, you might change the results of the calculations or formulas in your workbook. If you don't know what information the hidden rows, columns or worksheets contain, close the Document Inspector, unhide the hidden rows, columns, or worksheets, and then review their contents.

    • The inspectors for Comments and Annotations, Document Properties and Personal Information, and Headers and Footers can't be used in a workbook that has been saved as a shared workbook (Review > Share Workbook). This is because shared workbooks use personal information to enable different persons to collaborate on the same workbook. To remove this information from a shared workbook, you can copy the workbook and then unshare it. To unshare a workbook, click Review > Share Workbook and uncheck the Allow changes by more than one user at the same time box.

      Note: Unsharing isn't available in Microsoft Excel Starter 2010. To unshare, you must use the full version of Excel.

    • If you want to remove hidden data and personal information from spreadsheets you save in the OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods) format, you need to run the Document Inspector every time you save the spreadsheet in this format.

Types of hidden data and personal information in Excel

These are some of the items that can be the source of hidden data and personal information in your Excel workbooks:

  • Comments and ink annotations     Your workbook might contain items such as comments or ink annotations if you collaborated with other people to create your workbook. This information can let other people see the names of people who worked on your workbook, comments from reviewers, and changes that were made to your workbook.

  • Document properties and personal information     Metadata or document properties in Excel, just as in other Office apps, include details such as author, subject, and title. Office automatically maintains the name of the person who most recently saved a workbook, the date when a document was created, and document location (Excel 2013 or later versions). There may be additional kinds of personally identifiable information (PII), such as email headers, send-for-review information, routing slips, printer properties (for example, printer path and secure print passcode), and file path information for publishing Web pages.

  • Headers and footers     Workbooks can have information in headers and footers.

  • Hidden rows, columns, and worksheets    Workbooks can have rows, columns, and entire worksheets that are hidden. If you distribute a copy of a workbook that has hidden rows, columns, or worksheets, other people might unhide them to view the data that they contain.

  • Document server properties     Workbooks that are saved to a location on a document management server, such as a Document Workspace site or a library based on Windows SharePoint Services, might contain additional document properties or information related to the server location.

  • Custom XML data     Workbooks can have custom XML data that isn't visible in the document itself. The Document Inspector can find and remove this XML data.

  • Invisible content     Workbooks can have objects that aren't visible because they are formatted as invisible.

  • External links    Workbooks can have links to data in other workbooks (external links). The names of the worksheets containing that data are then saved with the workbooks but may not be visible.

  • Embedded files or objects    Workbooks can have embedded files (such as an Office or Text document) or embedded objects (such as a chart or and equation) that may have data that isn't visible.

  • Macros of VBA code    Workbooks can have macros, VBA modules, COM or ActiveX controls, User Forms, or User-Defined Functions (UDFs) that may contain hidden data.

  • Items that may have cached data    Workbooks can have cached data for PivotTables, PivotCharts, slicers, timelines, and Cube formulas that might not be visible.

  • Excel Surveys    Workbooks can have hidden Excel Survey questions that were entered in Excel Online and saved with the workbook, but aren't visible there.

  • Scenario Manager scenarios    Workbooks can have scenarios that were defined by using Scenario Manager. These scenarios may contain cached or hidden data.

  • Filters    Workbooks can have active Autofilters or table filters that might cause cached or hidden data to be saved with the workbook.

  • Hidden names    Workbooks can have hidden names that might be the source of hidden data.

What the Document Inspector finds and removes in Excel documents

Document Inspector displays items that it detects to help you find and remove hidden data and personal information that's specific to Excel workbooks. The table that follows lists the types of hidden data and personal information the Document Inspector can find and remove from your workbooks.

Notes: 

  • Not all of the Excell features that are listed in the table are supported in Microsoft Excel Starter 2010. For more information about the features available in Excel Starter, see Excel Starter feature support.

  • If your organization has added custom inspector modules to the Document Inspector, you might see additional types of information.

For these items:

The Document Inspector finds and removes:

Comments and Annotations

  • Comments

  • Ink annotations

Note: In Excel Starter 2010, Document Inspector removes only annotations.

Document Properties and Personal Information

  • Document properties, including information from the Summary, Statistics, and Custom tabs of the Document Properties dialog box

  • (Excel 2013 or later versions) Document location, when clicking Remove All, the existing document location will be cleaned up from the file. The document location won’t be added back to the file while saving until you close Excel 2013 or later and reopen the file again.

  • Email headers

  • Routing slips

  • Send-for-review information

  • Document server properties

  • Document Management Policy information

  • Content type information

  • User name

  • Printer path information

  • Scenario comments

  • File path for publishing Web pages

  • Comments for defined names and table names

  • Inactive external data connections

Headers and Footers

  • Information in worksheet headers

  • Information in worksheet footers

Hidden Rows and Columns

  • Hidden rows

  • Hidden columns that contain data

    Notes: 

    • If there are hidden columns in your workbook that don't contain data and that are located between columns that do contain data, these empty hidden columns will also be detected and removed.

    • If the hidden rows or columns in your workbook contain data, you might change the results of the calculations or formulas in your workbook by removing them. If you don't know what information the hidden rows or columns contain, close the Document Inspector, unhide the hidden rows or columns, and then review their contents.

    • The Document Inspector doesn't detect shapes, charts, controls, Microsoft ActiveX objects and controls, pictures, or SmartArt graphics that might be located in hidden columns.

    • Hidden rows or hidden columns are not removed if they are part of a table header, list header, or a Pivottable. These rows and columns are unhidden.

Hidden Worksheets

Hidden worksheets

Note: If the hidden worksheets in your workbook contain data, you might change the results of the calculations or formulas in your workbook by removing them. If you don't know what information the hidden worksheets contain, close the Document Inspector, unhide the hidden worksheets, and then review their contents.

Custom XML Data

Custom XML data that might be stored within a workbook

Invisible Content

Objects that aren't visible because they are formatted as invisible

Note: The Document Inspector doesn't detect objects that are covered by other objects.

Information the Document Inspector finds but can't remove

The Document Inspector detects the following items that might have data that isn't visible in your workbook. It can't remove these items for you because it might cause the workbook to not work properly. You can examine each item that's found and determine if you want to remove it manually or replace it with an item that doesn't have hidden data, such as a static picture.

For these items:

The Document Inspector finds:

External links

Links to data in other workbooks. The names of the worksheets that contain the data are saved with your workbook but it isn't visible there. External links include external references that are used in:

  • Worksheet cells

  • Names

  • Objects, such as text boxes or shapes

  • Chart titles

  • Chart data series

Embedded files or objects

Embedded files (such as an Office or Text document) or embedded objects (such as a chart or an equation) that may have data that isn't visible in your workbook. Here are examples of some object types:

  • Bitmap image objects

  • Microsoft Equation 3.0 objects

  • Microsoft Graph Chart objects

  • PowerPoint Presentation objects

  • Visio Drawing objects

  • Word Document objects

  • OpenDocument Text objects

Macros of VBA code

Macro or VBA items that may have hidden data in your workbook. This includes:

  • Macros, including Excel 4.0 Macro sheets (XLM)

  • VBA modules

  • COM or ActiveX controls

  • User Forms, including Excel 5.0 Forms

  • User-Defined Functions (UDFs)

BI features with cached data

BI features that may have cached data that's saved with the workbook, possibly containing data that's not visible. The Document Inspector checks for following items that may have PivotCache, SlicerCache, or Cube formula cache:

  • PivotTables and PivotCharts

  • Slicers and timelines

  • Cube formulas

Excel Surveys

Excel Survey questions that were created in Excel Online and saved with the workbook without being visible there.

Scenario Manager scenarios

Scenarios that are defined with Scenario Manager and may cause cached or hidden data to be saved with the workbook.

Filters

Filters that can be the cause of cached or hidden data in your workbook. The Document Inspector checks for AutoFilters and table filters that are applied to your data.

Hidden names

Hidden names that might store hidden data in the workbook.

You can look for and remove hidden information in your PowerPoint presentations by using the Document Inspector.

Tip: If you're just looking to not print comments, go to File > Print, click Full Page Slides and uncheck Print Comments.

Find and remove hidden data and personal information

Important: We highly recommend that you use the Document Inspector on a copy of your original presentation, because it is not always possible to restore the data that the Document Inspector removes.

  1. Open the PowerPoint presentation that you want to inspect for hidden data and personal information.

  2. On the File tab, pick Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original presentation.

    Note: In PowerPoint 2007: Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image , click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original presentation.

  3. In the copy of your original presentation, on the File tab, pick Info.

    Note: In PowerPoint 2007: In the copy of your original presentation, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button Office button image , point to Prepare, and then click Inspect Document. Skip step 4, and proceed to step 5.

  4. Click Check for Issues, and then Inspect Document.

  5. 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.

  6. Click Inspect.

  7. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector dialog box.

  8. Click Remove All next to the inspection results for the types of hidden content that you want to remove from your document.

    • If you remove hidden content from your presentation, you might not be able to restore it by clicking Undo.

    • If you want to remove hidden data and personal information from presentations you save in the OpenDocument Presentation (.odp) format, you must run the Document Inspector every time you save the presentation in this format.

Types of hidden data and personal information

PowerPoint presentation can save several types of hidden data and personal information. While this information might not be immediately visible, it can still be retrieved from your presentation.

Hidden information can include the data that PowerPoint adds to let you collaborate on creating the presentation with other people. It can also include information that you deliberately designate as hidden.

PowerPoint presentations can contain the following types of hidden data and personal information:

  • Comments and ink annotations    If you collaborate with other people to create your presentation, your presentation might contain items such as comments or ink annotations. This information can allow other people to see the changes that were made and the names of those who worked on your presentation, along with comments from reviewers.

  • Revision tracking data   When you collaborate on a shared document that's stored in the cloud, PowerPoint 2016 for Office 365 stores data about who made changes to the document and when the changes were made.

  • Document properties and personal information     Document properties, also known as metadata, include details about your presentation 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), such as email headers, send-for-review information, routing slips, and file path information for publishing Web pages.

  • Invisible on-slide content     Your presentation might contain objects that are not visible because they are formatted as invisible.

  • Off-slide content     PowerPoint presentations can contain objects that are not immediately visible because they were dragged off the slide into the off-slide area. This off-slide content can include text boxes, clip art, graphics, and tables.

  • Presentation notes     The Notes section of a PowerPoint presentation can contain text that you might not want to share publicly, especially if the notes were written solely for the use of the person who is delivering the presentation.

  • Document server properties     If your presentation was saved to a location on a document management server, such as a Document Workspace site or a library based on Windows SharePoint Services, the presentation might contain additional document properties or information related to this server location.

  • Custom XML data    Presentations can contain custom XML data that is not visible in the document itself. The Document Inspector can find and remove this XML data.

Information the Document Inspector finds and removes

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

If your organization customized the Document Inspector by adding Inspector modules, you might be able to check your presentations for additional types of information.

Inspector name

Finds and removes

Comments and Annotations

  • Comments

  • Ink annotations

Document Properties and Personal Information

  • Document properties, including information from the Summary, Statistics, and Custom tabs of the Document Properties dialog box

  • Email headers

  • Routing slips

  • Send-for-review information

  • Document server properties

  • Document Management Policy information

  • Content type information

  • File path for publishing Web pages

Revision Tracking Data

Data about who has edited the file and when it was edited.

This feature is only available to Office 365 subscribers who have joined the Office Insider program. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.

Invisible On-Slide Content

Objects that are not visible because they are formatted as invisible

This Inspector does not detect objects that are covered by other objects.

Off-Slide Content

  • Content or objects that are not immediately visible in a presentation because they are located outside the slide area, including:

    • Clip art

    • Text boxes

    • Graphics

    • Tables

      The Document Inspector does not detect or remove off-slide objects with animation effects.

Presentation Notes

Text that was added to the Notes section of a presentation

The Document Inspector cannot remove pictures that are added to the Notes section of a presentation.

Custom XML Data

Custom XML data that might be stored within a presentation

Information the Document Inspector finds but can't remove

The Document Inspector detects the following items that might have data that isn't visible in your presentation. Document Inspector can't remove these items for you because it might cause the presentation to not work properly. You can examine each item that's found and determine if you want to remove it manually or replace it with an item that doesn't have hidden data, such as a static picture.

For these items:

The Document Inspector finds:

Embedded files or objects

Embedded files (such as an Office or Text document) or embedded objects (such as a chart or an equation) that may have data that isn't visible in your workbook. Here are examples of some object types:

  • Bitmap image objects

  • Microsoft Equation 3.0 objects

  • Microsoft Graph Chart objects

  • PowerPoint Presentation objects

  • Visio Drawing objects

  • Word Document objects

  • OpenDocument Text objects

Macros or VBA code

Macro or VBA items that may have hidden data in your presentations. This includes:

  • Macros

  • VBA modules

  • COM or ActiveX controls

Document Inspector and personal data

Revision tracking data, introduced in PowerPoint 2016 build 8403 for Office 365 Insiders, illustrates a limitation of Document Inspector. For example, let's say Kelly and Linda collaborate on Presentation A in Office 365. Revision tracking data (that is, user names and the times when they made edits) is added to the presentation. If Mohammed subsequently opens Presentation A in PowerPoint 2013 and runs Document Inspector on the file to remove personal data, the Document Inspector in that version of PowerPoint won't be able to detect and remove the revision tracking data added to the presentation by the newer, Office 365 version of PowerPoint used by Kelly and Linda. Mohammed can’t remove the revision tracking data without upgrading to the current version of PowerPoint and then running Document Inspector

You can remove hidden information in Visio, just like you can from other apps for Office. Before you give others a copy of a Visio document, there may be informatioin you want to remove from the document and from the document file properties.

Personal information can be easily removed from the following feature areas in Visio:

  • Comments inserted on the pages of your document

  • File properties (Author, Manager, and Company)

  • Reviewer names, initials, and markup

  • Stencil file paths

  • Template file path and name

Note: If a document is available to other people on a shared server, whenever someone opens the document, information is displayed about the name of the user who has the file open and the name of the computer on which the file is stored. To help protect this information, make sure that any shared documents can be accessed only by trusted users.

You can look for and remove hidden information in your Visio presentations by taking the following steps.

  • On the File menu, click Remove Hidden Information.

    If you're using Visio Premium 2010 or later versions, you'll find this under File > Info > Remove Personal Information.

  • Click the Personal Information tab.

  • Select the Remove these items from the document check box.

    Tip: Select the Warn me if I try to reinsert this information check box if you want to see a warning whenever you try to reinsert personal information.

  • To remove potentially sensitive data from external data sources, select the Remove data from external sources stored in the document check box.

    Note: Selecting this check box does not remove data that has been linked to a shape. It removes the data source from the diagram, but if any data from the data source is in the diagram, you need to remove it manually.

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This article was last updated on January 9, 2018, as a result of your comments. If you found this article helpful, and especially if you didn't, please use the feedback controls below to leave us some constructive suggestions as to how we can make it better.

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