Privacy supplement for Excel

The following things can affect privacy, either by making potentially sensitive information available to third parties or by allowing you to control what information may be available.

The New tab (Click the File tab, and then click New) can provide you with up-to-date assistance downloaded from Office.com for workbooks that are based on templates. You can also send feedback on the templates and provide a numeric rating for each template that you download.

When you open a template or a file based on a template, Excel (depending on your online Help settings) contacts Office.com. It sends the ID for that template, the program and version that you are currently using, together with standard computer information.

The template ID is used to identify the original template as downloaded from Office.com or included in your Excel installation. It does not uniquely identify your workbook. The ID is the same for all users of the same template.

If you choose to create a link to an image, file, data source, or other document on your hard disk or on a server, the path to that file is saved into your workbook. In some cases, the link might include your user name or information about servers on your network. In the case of a data connection, you can choose to save a user name or password within the data connection link.

Also, when you apply an XML Schema to a workbook, a path to the XML Schema that you have created is saved to the workbook. In some cases, that path might include your user name.

When you create a sheet data function or PivotTable report from an external data source, the data that you request from that source is stored as part of your worksheet, together with a unique identifier for the data source. The user name of the person who last refreshed the cache is also stored.

Depending on how you have set up your workbook or PivotTable report, only a subset of the stored data might be displayed. To remove all of this stored data, remove the connection to the data source from sheet data functions and remove all the pivots referencing the data.

When you create a chart in Excel, you can filter the data that you have selected for the chart so that only a portion of the data is displayed. However, all data selected is stored with the chart. To prevent other people from altering your chart or viewing its data, when you copy it into a Microsoft program, paste the chart as a bitmap. If the data in your chart is from an external data source, you might password-protect the chart to help prevent other people from updating the chart with the latest data from the external source. If your chart is based on the data in your workbook, password-protecting the chart can help prevent other people from modifying the data that appears in your chart.

When you print an Excel workbook, and then save that workbook, Excel saves the path to your printer with the document. In some cases, the path might include a user name or computer name.

Excel allows you to add and edit alternative text for tables, shapes, pictures, charts, SmartArt graphics, and other objects in your workbooks. The alternative text is saved with the workbook and might contain personal information added by any contributor of the presentation. For some objects, such as pictures you insert into your workbook, the default alternative text includes the file path for the object you insert.

Alternative text can be used by accessibility features such as screen readers. The alternative text is available to anyone who has access to your file.

Excel allows you to access a Document Workspace on SharePoint. A Document Workspace is a shared space where you can collaborate with other team members on one or more workbooks.

When you access a Document Workspace, Excel downloads data from the Document Workspace site to provide you with information about that site. This data includes:

  • Name of the site

  • URL or address of the site

  • Names, e-mail addresses, and permission levels of the site users

  • Lists of the documents, tasks, and other information available from the site

Excel also stores a list of the Document Workspace sites that you have visited on your computer, in the form of cookies. This list is used to provide you with quick access to the sites that you have visited before. The list of sites that you have visited is not accessed by Microsoft and is not exposed to the Internet unless you choose to make the list more broadly available.

The fax service allows you to send a fax over the Internet and organize the faxes that you have sent in Microsoft Outlook. To use the fax service, you must sign up with a fax service provider, separate from Microsoft, who processes the faxes and sends them over the Internet. Microsoft does not collect any data by the fax service feature.

When you sign up for the fax service, the fax service provider creates a registration package that is stored by the fax service provider and Excel. The package consists of the address of the fax service provider's Web site and a "token" confirming your access to the fax service provider. When you send a fax from Excel, this registration package is appended to the document.

You can also use the fax service to calculate the price of a fax without actually sending the fax. If you choose to calculate the price of a fax, Excel uses an encrypted connection to send your registration token, the phone number where the fax is to be sent, and the number of pages of the fax to the fax service provider. Microsoft does not receive or store this information.

Excel allows you to request information about a particular term or phrase from a number of premium content providers. When you request a search on a particular word or phrase, Excel uses the Internet to send the text that you requested, the software product that you are currently using, the locale to which your system is set, and authorization information indicating that you have the right to download research information, if needed by the third party.

Excel sends this information to a service provided by Microsoft or a third-party provider that you select. This service returns information about the word or phrase that you requested.

Frequently, the information that you receive includes a link to additional information from the service’s Web site. If you click this link, the service’s provider might add a cookie to your system to identify you for future transactions. Microsoft is not responsible for the privacy practices of third-party Web sites and services. Microsoft does not receive or store any of this information unless you have queried a Microsoft-owned service.

You can turn off research and reference by doing the following:

This setting may be restricted by your admin. If so, you will not be able to enable or disable it on your own.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Account.

  3. Under Account Privacy, click Manage Settings.

  4. Under Optional connected services, clear the Enable optional connected experiences check box.

    Important: This will disable all optional connected services, not just research and reference.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options.

  3. Click Trust Center.

  4. Click Trust Center Settings.

  5. Click Privacy Options, and then clear the Allow the Research task pane to check for and install new services check box.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Under Help, click Options.

  3. Click Trust Center.

  4. Click Trust Center Settings.

  5. Click Privacy Options, and then clear the Allow the Research task pane to check for and install new services check box.

Excel allows you to translate all or part of your document by using a bilingual dictionary or a machine translation. You have a choice of how you want to translate your document.

You can select or enter a word or phrase that you want to translate, or you can choose to translate the entire document, in either case, by selecting the applicable translation option in the Research and Reference pane.

If you select or enter a word or phrase that you want to translate, the phrase that you have entered is compared to a bilingual dictionary. Some bilingual dictionaries are included with your software, and others are available from Office.com. If a word or phrase you enter is not in the bilingual dictionary included with your software, the word or phrase is sent unencrypted to a Microsoft or a third-party translation service.

If you want to translate your entire workbook, it is sent unencrypted to a Microsoft or a third-party translation service. As with any information that is sent unencrypted over the Internet, it might be possible for other people to see the word, phrase, or workbook you are translating.

If you choose to use one of the dictionaries available on Office.com or a third-party translation service, Excel uses the Internet to send the text that you requested, the type of software you have, and the locale and language to which your system is set. For third-party translation services, Excel might also send previously cached authentication information indicating that you previously signed up for access to the Web site.

Microsoft SharePoint provides shared, Web-based Workspace sites where you can collaborate on documents or meetings.

When you access a SharePoint site, by using either your Web browser or any Office program, the site saves cookies to your computer if you have permissions to create a new subsite on that site. Taken together, these cookies form a list of sites to which you have permissions. This list is used by several Office programs to provide you with quick access to the sites that you have visited before.

The list of sites that you have visited is not accessed by Microsoft and is not exposed to the Internet unless you choose to make the list more broadly available.

In SharePoint, when you create a new Web site or list, or add or invite people to an existing Web site or list, the site saves the following for each person, including your:

  • Full name

  • E-mail address

A user ID is added to every element that you or the other users of the site add to or modify on the site. As with all of the content on the SharePoint site, only administrators and members of the site itself should have access to this information.

All elements of the SharePoint site include two fields: Created By and Modified By. The Created By field is filled in with the user name of the person who originally created the element and the date when it was created. The Modified By field is filled in with the user name of the person who last modified the workbook and the date when it was last modified.

Administrators of the servers where SharePoint sites are hosted have access to some data from these sites, which is used for analyzing the usage patterns of the site and improving the percentage of time that the site is available. This data is available only to the server administrators and is not shared with Microsoft unless Microsoft is hosting the SharePoint site. The data specifically captured includes the names, e-mail addresses, and permissions of everyone with access to the site.

All users with access to a particular SharePoint site might search and view all content available on that site.

Microsoft SharePoint provides auditing features that allow administrators to keep a reliable audit trail of how users are working with certain content.

When SharePoint administrators enable the Auditing feature, the server automatically records in the SharePoint content database certain actions performed by the user. These actions include view, edit, check-in, and check-out. For each recorded action, the server records identifying information about the file, the action, and the user's SharePoint ID. No data is sent to Microsoft as part of this feature.

This feature is off by default and is available only to administrators of SharePoint sites where content is stored.

Excel provides you with the ability to send instant messages from within the program itself and provides you with the ability to be alerted when people are online or when certain changes are made to shared workbooks or workspaces.

Excel can use an instant messaging client to provide you with the ability to see the online presence of other people and to send messages to them. Excel includes a Web control that allows instant messaging presence to be displayed within a Web page. Microsoft SharePoint pages make use of this control. These pages do not transmit presence data back to the Web server.

This Web control can be used to transmit presence data from your instant messaging program to the Web server. By default, presence data can only be sent to intranet sites, trusted sites, and sites on the local computer.

Excel uses file formats that are based on XML. These XML file formats are extensible, meaning that users can specify additional schemas or tags in the files. An add-in or other third-party code can also attach additional metadata information to these XML file formats that are not be viewable in Excel.

You can verify the metadata that has been associated with an XML file by viewing it in a text viewer.

By default, if you save comments to a file, Excel adds your initials to each comment. This information is then available to anyone who has access to your file.

You can remove your personal information from these comments by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Info.

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

By default, when you make changes to a file with the Track Changes feature turned on, your user name and/or initials are stored in the workbook and associated with the changes that you make. This information, including both the original and revised text, is then available to anyone who has access to your file.

After these changes have been accepted or rejected, your name is removed. You can also remove your personal information from these changes by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Info.

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

In certain instances, Excel stores your name to provide you with a better experience when using some features. For example, your name is stored in these locations:

  • Author fields

  • AuthorName file property

You can remove your name from these fields and properties by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Info.

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

Microsoft Office solutions created by other companies might also include your name or other personal information in the custom properties associated with your file.

If you use the Microsoft Office Web Control, Microsoft Excel Data Access, DataCalc, or other features that allow you to connect directly to another data source, your authorization information (user ID and password) might be saved within your workbook. To change or delete this authorization information, you will need to change the properties of the connection using the method specific to the connection method.

By default, every file saved by Excel includes file properties such as the following:

  • Author

  • Manager

  • Company

  • Last Saved By

  • Names of workbook reviewers

In addition, other properties might be saved to the file depending on the features or third-party solutions that you use. For example, if your workbook is part of a document workflow, additional file properties to track the workflow are saved.

This information is then available to anyone who has access to your file.

You can remove your name from these properties by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Info.

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

The Inspect Document feature can also be used to remove other types of data that might not be available in all views, such as comments and revisions. Microsoft recommends running Inspect Document on any workbook that you plan to make publicly available.

Hidden data and metadata can also be included in Microsoft Office files by using the Microsoft Office Object Model. For example, you can make pictures invisible in the Microsoft Office Object Model, which means that they cannot be seen when you open the file, but the picture is stored in the file and can later be made visible.

Macro recording allows you to record a sequence of actions so that you can reproduce the actions at a later time. If you choose to record a macro, your user name is saved as a comment in the code when the macro is initially created. You can manually remove your user name from these this location.

A digital signature is an optional feature that can help you to authenticate the identity of the person who sent you a workbook. A digital signature is a unique encrypted value of the data in the workbook that you are signing. When you send a workbook with a digital signature, the signature is sent to the recipient, along with the data in the workbook and a trusted digital certificate from you (the sender). The digital certificate is issued by a Certification Authority, such as VeriSign, and contains information to authenticate the sender and verify that the original contents of the workbook have not been altered. Excel might automatically contact the certification authority online to verify the digital signature.

When you sign a workbook, you see a dialog box that shows the information that is included in the digital signature, such as your system date and time, operating system version number, Microsoft Office version number, and Excel version number.

Information Rights Management (IRM) allows you to give certain users or groups the right to access and modify a workbook. Despite some similarities, IRM is not the same as Document Protection. IRM allows you to set permissions to the entire workbook for very specific actions, such as printing the document or forwarding the document to other people, as well as for reading or editing the workbook.

When you store a workbook with IRM enabled, Excel saves to the workbook a list of every user who has rights to that workbook and what their permissions are. This information is encrypted so that only the workbook owners can access this information.

Additionally, workbooks with IRM enabled contain content licenses. A content license contains an e-mail address, permission, and authentication information. Each time anyone attempts to open a workbook with IRM enabled, Excel checks the content licenses saved in the workbook against the user's identity. If the user has never opened the workbook before, Excel contacts an IRM server, verifies the user's identity, downloads a new content license for the user (provided that the user has the necessary rights), and saves that content license to the workbook.

Workbook owners have the option to avoid saving content licenses to the workbook. However, if this content license is not saved to the workbook, Excel must contact the IRM server every time the workbook is opened. If Excel is not connected to a network or cannot contact the IRM server, the workbook cannot be opened.

Workbook Protection allows you to protect your Excel workbook in various ways, such as giving only certain users the rights to edit, make comments, or read the workbook.

When you use Workbook Protection, you are asked to enter the user IDs. These user IDs might be in the form of Windows NT Domain accounts (for example, DOMAIN\user name) or Windows Live ID e-mail addresses (for example, someone@example.com). These user IDs are stored whenever you give a user the rights to read or change a range of text.

It is possible to protect the Excel workbook without using a password. If you choose to protect the workbook without a password, anyone reading the workbook can see the user IDs of those who have been given access. Also, if the workbook is saved as XML or HTML, the user IDs are available to anyone who reads the file.

If you want to further restrict access to the user IDs, you can choose to save this file with a password or with Information Rights Management (IRM). Only you and other people who have been granted access can see these user IDs.

When you open certain earlier versions of Excel files in Microsoft Office, Office file validation checks whether the file structure matches specification from Microsoft for that file format. If the file fails this validation, Microsoft Office opens it in a Protected View.

A copy of each file that fails Office file validation is saved on your computer after you exit Excel. Microsoft Error Reporting periodically asks you whether you agree to send a copy of these files to Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft Error Reporting, including a full privacy statement, see Microsoft Error Reporting Privacy Statement.

Excel automatically saves copies of your workbook while you edit them. This helps you recover workbooks if you accidently close a workbook without saving your changes. You can choose not to automatically save copies of the workbooks by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options.

  3. Click Save.

  4. Under Save workbooks, clear the Keep the last Auto Recovered version if I close without saving check box.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options.

  3. Click Save.

  4. Under Save workbooks, clear the Keep the last Autosaved version if I close without saving check box.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Under Help, click Options.

  3. Click Save.

  4. Under Save workbooks, clear the Keep the last Auto Recovered file if I close without saving check box.

You can access and delete the last saved versions of previously saved workbooks by clicking the File tab, clicking Info, and then clicking the workbook you want under Versions. You can access and delete the last automatically saved versions for newly created workbooks by clicking the File tab, clicking Info, clicking Manage Versions, and then clicking Recover Unsaved Workbooks. Excel periodically deletes the automatically saved workbooks if you do not open and use them. For more information, see Recover your Office files.

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