View Full Version : How can I preserve anoymity in my documents?

05-04-2003, 06:16 PM

When I registered for software, I took care not to put in my name, just punctuation marks, yet I was amazed to see that my full name including middle name appeared as "author" in a "tip box" when my cursor/mouse move over one of the documents in "File Open" dialogue box.

The document was created with WinWord97 and the programme I was using to open a file was Corel Draw9.

I wonder how did that happen and how could I get rid of it, i.e. prevent other people who got my document from knowing who the author is? Is there a file or files that store my name and other details like address etc. in the computer? Where can I locate it and can I delete it or clear its content?


05-04-2003, 07:35 PM
Yeah thats a shocker isn't it. I got busted for distributing homework by that handy "feature" didn't think about it being there. Was especially surprised the teacher in question though about looking at what it said there.

I think you would have to wipe out normal.dot at a guess. Or some profile setting somewhere anyway.

When you next run Word you'll find it ask you to enter in a name and initials. Just don't enter them.

Greg S
05-04-2003, 07:39 PM
That information is taken from the settings when you first installed Windows, or if you registered it (or I think if you do an auto-update). Anyway, it's info that you've given to someone somewhere, probably the first above. I can't remember the correct way to rename it into something a bit more anonymous, and I don't know which version of Windows you're using, but the minor hack you can do is to go into Regedit, do a search for every instance of the name (exactly how you see it on the document tip) and change it to something else, exactly the same in each case. Take good care in your spelling while doing this, and don't touch the quotation marks either side of the name. Copy and paste will be safest.

Remember to back up the registry first, and if you're a bit vague about the process to adjust the registry, post back, and good info on backing up can be found in the FAQ's.

The Student
05-04-2003, 08:31 PM

I'm not sure if this may work, as I have not had 0ffice 97 before, but versions of 2000 onwards.

Try this:

Open up Word
Go to 'Tools - Options
Click the "User Information" Tab
Under Name and Initals just type blah blah blah.....(whatever you want)
Click Ok.

You may need to create another file to save, so that it will actually take effect.

OR try this:

Just right click the file and click the "Summary Tab", and under Author, just type in the name to your liking.

05-04-2003, 08:31 PM
ALWAYS check the "properties" of any document created with MS Office

(File - Properties)

You can erase it or change it on a document by document basis.

And (as JM found out) always check the properties of incoming documents. You will often get a few surprises. I reglarly get documents from large organisations, and find they have "borrowed" them from other companies, as the properties fields do not get updated if they contain information.

06-04-2003, 02:23 AM
>>I think you would have to wipe out normal.dot at a guess.
You are right there it has nothing to do with when you first install office.
I got a real shock when I shipped a normal.dot created on one PC to another.

Graham L
06-04-2003, 04:08 PM
The moral is: if you want to make a document which could get you into trouble, don't use a Microsoft product. :D Or don't make such a document. ]:)
Apart from anything else which MS explicitly puts in to identify you, there is so much else sitting in memory buffers. Have a look at the size of any Word document, and compare it with the character count of your text. Not all of the difference is "useful" formatting information. ;-)

06-04-2003, 10:15 PM
Thank you very much for all your responses . My OS is Win98.

I have tried the various methods suggested. First of all, I looked into my normal.dot, I only have punctuation marks in there, so that doesn't seem to be the culprit. It follows that, even if I retype another name "blah, blah, blah" in every new document's properties/author when I am using Word, it still would not solve the problem.

I have also done a search of my name in Regedit, it didn't come up with a match.

Also, the tip box of my name did not appear when I was using Word to open a file, it happened in the "file/open" dialogue box of Corel Draw 9.

I think Greg's approach may be closer to the mark, there must be a file (or more than one) somewhere which holds these information. It was probably created when I was inadvertently entering my details in one of those registration or reply forms.

What I am worry about is: what other personal details are there in the computer which could be hacked into by intruders!

Have a good week.


06-04-2003, 11:14 PM
>That information is taken from the settings when you first installed >Windows, or if you registered it (or I think if you do an auto-update).

I'm confused...

Some of my .doc documents have my user name (good old generic OEM USER) as the author, and some have my full name! I'm sure I have never given my full name to anything M$ related?

On our computer we have several logons (1 for each member of the family) and I checked out word docs for each logon and the author name was the user name for most cases (except the full name thing in a few of mine).

What's going on?

Susan B
08-04-2003, 06:52 PM
I have not actually got Word 97 installed at the moment to check this out but you could try having a look in the Properties of your normal.dot file. In Windows Explorer find normal.dot, right click on it, choose Properties and have a look around in there for your name. If it is there either remove or change it.

As for how your name got there, like others have said it would be from when Windows or Word was installed on your hard drive. When I install Windows or any other program now I just put in S B (or whatever I feel like) so my full name is not listed in the registry at all.

If you cannot find your name in the registry try searching for a shorter version instead of the full name. For instance instead of "George William Bush" search for just "William" or "Bush". Your name will be there somewhere.