Microsoft Expands Document Inspector for Office Suite

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Microsoft updates its Office Document Inspector to stop users leaking personal data when sharing documents

Microsoft has updated its Document Inspector tool for the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite, and includes the tool for Word, Powerpoint and Excel.

The Document Inspector tool is designed to stop users from accidentally revealing personal data when their share Office documents with others.

Privacy Protection

The update to the Document Inspector tool was revealed in a blog posting by Steve Kraynak, a program manager for the Office team. The revised and expanded tool covers Microsoft Office 2013 and 2010.

The Document Inspector is also known as the ‘Check for Issues’ tool in Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Essentially, it helps when users are preparing documents, presentations and workbooks, just before they are published or shared. The tool itself checks for hidden or private information that could be associated with these documents. This could be the author name, hidden comments, revisions, path names, document or printer properties, which users may not want to share with the outside world.

The tool typically removes such items from the user’s document, or alerts the users to the personal information. But the updated tool will now includes a number of additional inspection modules, called inspectors, to Excel, PowerPoint and Word.

Word and PowerPoint only get two additional inspection modules each, but Excel has an additional ten inspection modules, reflecting the type of features that are only found in Excel spreadsheets.

The new modules includes tools to search embedded documents, macros forms and Active X controls. The Excel tool includes those new modules, but also has modules to check links to other files, pivottable checks, RTDs, and a number of other modules.

“The Document Inspector helps you avoid sharing personal or private information when you publish your Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents, and we think it’s a valuable tool, designed to detect many important items where information could be inadvertently shared,” blogged Microsoft’s  Kraynak.

“Even so, when sharing documents, you should keep in mind that are there items that the Document Inspector is not designed to detect,” he wrote. “It’s important to remember that the Document Inspector is not designed to take the place of common workflow processes, such as technical and legal review, peer review and editorial review.”

Microsoft Word Office iPadOffice Domination

Microsoft Office dominates the Office productivity suite, as it is commonly used in many businesses, although there are a number of open source and rival office suites such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice etc.

Last month, Microsoft revealed it would allow iPhone, iPad and Android users to open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents without an Office 365 subscription.

It offered that functionality with the launch of new and updated applications for mobile devices. Redmond has launched iPad Office apps earlier this year but until last month, users had to have an active Office 365 account to edit documents. If they didn’t, they could only view them.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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