A Guide to Removing Personal Information From Word Documents

Get rid of hidden data you didn't know you were sharing

An open book with a lot of the text blacked out with a marker.

 Phil Ashley / Getty Images

File sharing increases the risk that certain kinds of document metadata (stuff that's embedded in a file, often without your knowledge) could leak online, such as who worked on a document or who commented on a document. Word features a built-in tool to help you find and remove personal information and other hidden data.

This information works for Word for Office365, Word 2019, 2016, and Word for Mac.

How to Remove Personal Information From a Word File

Microsoft Word includes a tool called Document Inspector that removes personal information from your document before you share it with others.

If you are printing a document and want to avoid printing comments, go to File > Print, select Print All Pages and clear the Print Markup checkbox.

  1. Open the Word document you want to remove any personal information from.

    Wait until the document is completed before you remove the personal information, particularly if you are collaborating with other users because names associated with comments and document versions will change to “Author,” making it difficult to ascertain who made changes to the document.

  2. Select the File tab and click Info.

    File screen in word with the Info section highlighted
  3. Select Check for Issues in the Inspect Document section of the Info tab.

    Check for Issues on the Info screen in Word
  4. In the drop-down menu that opens, select Inspect Document. The Document Inspector window will open.

    Document Inspector only runs on a saved file. It'll prompt you to save your work-in-progress if you haven't manually saved a changed file.

    Inspect Document menu in Word
  5. Select the Document Properties and Personal Information checkbox as well as any other items you want the tool to check for. Scroll down to see all of the available options.

    Screenshot of Document Inspector window
  6. Select the Inspect button.

    If in doubt, select all of the checkboxes.

    Document Inspector window in Word with the Inspect button highlighted
  7. Wait while the Document Inspector checks the document.

    Screenshot of Document Inspector running
  8. Select Remove All next to Document Properties and Personal Information to remove the document and author properties associated with that file. Select Remove All next to other results if you wish to remove any other information the Document Inspector discovers.

Some changes cannot be undone, so make sure you want to remove them before proceeding.

Document Inspector window in Word with the Remove All button highlighted

When you next save the document, this information will be removed.

Don't worry about Microsoft having access to personal information in the documents on your computer. Unless you were to send a document to Microsoft, they do not have access to any information from your documents.