Tag Archives: Microsoft Office

Inspect and Remove Sensitive Document Properties with Document Inspector

It may come as a shock to some just how much information Microsoft collects in Document Properties during the creation of a file. This blog reveals how to inspect and remove sensitive document properties with Document Inspector. We have enough to handle just getting the document to be correct and look the way we want to present it without worrying about broadcasting sensitive data!

Office collects personal data

There are positive uses for this information and even for creating our own custom Document Properties, but we’ll cover that in a future blog as this is about protecting your information in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

If the document is not leaving your computer or office, it may not be an issue to have unexpected details revealed about the creation path and timeframe for editing, how many revisions and more. On the other hand, if this is confidential or going to another department, or worse yet, to a client or outside organization, there could be a problem Houston!

NOTE: Document Inspector tends to be an all or nothing thing. Might want to create and save a copy of the document before you inspect, remove and send, because it may remove elements that you want to keep in your original.

What Data is Collected

As you work, here is what starts to accumulate about your document and you (or the user who is working on it).

Click File tab to display the Info screen (Backstage) with the Properties of the current document (left screenshot):

Word Document Properties

Much of the data is what you would expect to see if you were looking at the file in a directory, but note there are fields such as Total Editing Time, Author, Last Modified, Last Printed (and by whom).

If you click the link for Show All Properties at the bottom of the screen, you see more information is revealed such as Company and Manager (shown on the screenshot on the right). There are also several fields where you, the user, can enter details to identify the file for searching and clarity.

Let’s go one step further…At the top of the Properties column (in either screen), click the dropdown arrow and then click Advanced Properties button:

The Advanced Properties dialog box will display with five tabs that collect different data:

  1. The General tab contains the information you would see with the Details view in a directory.
  2. The Summary tab is where you can choose to add your own information to identify and describe the document.
  3. Statistics tab contains some file details but adds personal data about the construction of the file.
  4. The Contents tab pulls document properties from fields. For example, if you added a Title in the Title tab, it will appear here.
  5. The Custom tab is where you can add properties from the list such as Department or Editor or create your own.

As mentioned, you may want to utilize these properties for various reasons but, for now, we’ll just concentrate on what Word is collecting and tracking, and how to get rid of the information, if needed.

Note: Previously you could display the Document Panel from Advanced Properties directly at the top of your document and fill in the property tags there. It was removed from Office 2016.

Review with Document Inspector

Let’s look at all the document and personal information being collected:

  • Click the File tab and ensure Info is selected.

Inspect Document screen

  • Click Inspect Document under the Check for Issues dropdown arrow.
  • The Document Inspector displays where you can choose what content to check for.
  • Leave them all checked and click the Inspect button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Document Inspector dialog box pre-run

The same list displays again with the requested data flagged with a red exclamation mark and a list of the information found.

Document Inspector after running

Remove Hidden Data

If you want that data deleted, click the Remove All button. Click Reinspect to ensure it is gone or remove other information.

You can now send that file without fear that it is revealing your inner most document secrets, but you might want to take it one step further if the document has ever been shared, or you have cropped images! (See below).

Document Properties in Excel and PowerPoint

Both these programs use the same method for collecting data about your file but because of their diverse purposes, track some different information. You inspect and remove the same way with the Document Inspector.

Like Word, Excel and PowerPoint collect data on:
  • Comments, and Annotations
  • Document Properties and Personal Information.
  • Invisible Content
  • Custom XML Data
Excel adds:
  • Headers and Footers
  • Hidden Rows and Columns
  • Hidden Worksheets
PowerPoint adds:
  • Off-slide Content
  • Presentation Notes
 Word adds:
  • Revisions and Versions,
  • Metadata, Microsoft SharePoint properties, custom properties, and other content information.
  • Headers, Footers, and Watermarks
  • Hidden Text
  • Task Pane add-ins

How to Inspect and Remove

The same for all programs. Go to File | Info |Check for Issues | Inspect Document.  Note the list of things that will be inspected, leave them all selected and click the Inspect button.

Check Before Sending

There are some things not covered by the Document Inspector that could cause embarrassing or legal issues if the original information remained intact. Cropped images may display as you edited in the document, but the complete original image remains unless deleted. Same is true of Tracked Changes that have been edited if someone turns on All Marks.

Delete Cropped Areas of Images

  • Click on an image
  • In the Picture Tools | Format tab | Adjust group, click Compress Pictures

Compress pictures and delete cropped areas

  • Ensure there is NO checkmark in Apply only to this picture.
  • Ensure there IS a checkmark in Delete cropped areas of pictures.
  • Click OK.

Remove Tracked Changes

Accept or reject tracked changes to remove them from your document:

  • To look at each revision one at a time, on the Review tab, click Next in the Changes group, and then Accept or Reject.

Use Ribbon to remove tracked changes

Word keeps or removes the change and then moves to the next tracked change.

  • To accept all the changes at the same time, click the arrow below Accept, and then click Accept All Changes.
  • To reject all the changes at the same time, click the arrow below Reject, and then click Reject All Changes.

IMPORTANT:  Choosing the No Markup view helps you see what the final document will look like, but it only hides tracked changes temporarily. The changes are not deleted, and they’ll appear again the next time someone opens the document. To delete the tracked changes permanently, you’ll need to accept or reject them.

Whew! Now your clean and lean document can be sent without all that hidden data. If you want more information on security for your Office files, see the related blogs…

http://gaylelarson.com/word-document-protection/

http://gaylelarson.com/delete-personal-content-from-public-computers/

Have you had any surprise experiences with sharing sensitive information? Let me know in the Comments.

 

Balancing Column Lengths in Word Document

Do your column lengths look a little out of balance in that otherwise perfect document?

Have you struggled with creating columns in Word to get that nice, professional look only to have them display off balance, with one column much longer than the other(s)? Here’s some ways to whip that into shape!

Word allows you to give your work a more magazine or newspaper look by breaking up the document or specific paragraphs into columns. You can have Word do this automatically, or specify where you want the column breaks.

Deciding the number of columns will be based on your margins, font sizes, line and paragraph spacing, graphics and any additional settings. The fast, easy way is to let Word do the lifting.

Have Word Create Column Breaks Based on Selection

If you want specific content to be displayed in columns:

  • Select the contents that you want to display in two or more columns
  • Click the Layout tab on the Ribbon
  • In the Page Setup group, choose the drop down on Columns
  • Choose the number of desired columns

Word will automatically add section breaks at the top and bottom of the column content and make the columns as even as possible. If you add content at the end of the column(s), Word will rebalance them.

Inserting Columns with No Content Selected

If you want the entire document displayed in columns, click anywhere in the document, and follow the steps above.

The difference here is that Word does not insert section breaks so will not automatically adjust column lengths as you add content.

If the columns are not equal length, you can have Word do it by inserting a continuous section break at the end of the last column:

  1.  Click at the end of the text in the last column
  2.  Display the Page Layout tab of the ribbon
  3.  Click on the drop-down on Breaks in the Page Setup group
  4. Choose Continuous under Section Breaks section


Note: If you like the results, you are good to go but if you want to change the column widths or adjust space between columns, you can select the More
Columns… command at the bottom of the Columns drop down.

Although Word is not a full-blown desktop publisher such as InDesign or even Publisher, it can produce some pretty fine looking work just by using some built-in templates or tools. There are more adjustments you can make such as having your heading (and other content) be in one column and the rest of the document in multiple columns. We’ll look at that in a future post.

Have you used this feature in Word before? Did you get the expected results? If you haven’t experimented with columns, give it a try and let me know how it went!

Apply Changes to Multiple Outlook Contacts

How's Your Outlook?
                 How’s Your Outlook?

Change Multiple Contacts with Drag and Drop

You have several Outlook contacts for the same company and their company name (or address or some other detail) is being changed. Updating that change in all contacts one at a time would be annoying to say the least. Not to fret! Although there is no find and replace for this, you can still make it happen pretty quickly.

The steps are very similar in all versions of Outlook:

  1. Click on View tab, Current View group, Change View dropdown arrow
  2. Choose List
  3. In Arrangement group, click Arrange By drop down arrow
  4. Choose Company and ensure that Show in Groups has a checkmark. If not, click arrow again and choose it
  5. In the desired Company name group, open any contact and edit the name
  6. Click Save and Close icon. This will automatically create and display a new group with the edited Company name
  7. Highlight all the contacts in the previous Company group. (Just click on first one and SHIFT click on last)
  8. Click, hold and drag them into the new Company name group. All of your contacts are updated!

Create Custom Views

Now, create your own custom view so you can return to your grouped list with a mouse click:

  • Click Change View in the Current View group
  • Select Save Current View as a New View
  • Give it a name such as Contact List by Company
  • Click OK and it is added to your Change View drop down list:

 

 

Display by Category

Don’t stop with quickly updating changes in Contact content. If you are a user of categories and want add or edit a category or color, you can apply the same process as above to change or add contacts to an existing or new category.

Replace Company in Step #4 above with Categories in the Arrange By dropdown list and rest is the same. Also, always remember to check what’s available on the right click menu as you can often save several mouse clicks. Right click on a contact and choose Categories from the shortcut list and add or edit there.

Categories are very powerful because they can be used to identify items all across Outlook, including types of calendar appointments, email messages, tasks and notes. Customize your own categories and colors and create a great organizational tool!

How are you using Categories to streamline your Outlook?