Microsoft’s Excel, PowerPoint, and Word applications as part of the Office suite can collect a small amount of personal information to make life a little more convenient for users, such as the name of the author, document and printer properties, and absolute path names. But when sharing these documents, users might not want this information to be shared as well, and so Microsoft built in the Document Inspector.
The Document Inspector is a feature in Office that can check for all sorts of hidden information, properties and issues in documents for users to then take action on should they wish to do so. And today, Microsoft announced that it is updating the Document Inspector by adding new modules (also called “inspectors”) to it, giving the feature additional detecting skills.
In addition to searching for hidden comments, revisions, annotations, documents properties, personal information, custom XML data and much more, the Inspector in Word and PowerPoint will now also be able to search for embedded documents, macros, forms, and ActiveX controls.
Excel’s Inspector gains the aforementioned improvements, as well as the ability to search for links to other files, PivotTables, PivotCharts, Cube Formulas, Slicers, Timelines, Real-time data functions, Excel surveys, defined scenarios, active filters, custom worksheet properties, and hidden names. These features are Excel-specific and so are not included in the Word and PowerPoint Inspectors.
Microsoft notes however that despite the Document Inspector being quite a comprehensive tool, there are instances of items that it is not designed to detect. For example when text is hidden by an image above it, or when information has been entered in an Excel sheet in a far off row or column that requires a lot of scrolling to get to. So if you’re looking to share your documents with others, be wary of this.
The new additions will come to Excel, PowerPoint and Word 2010 and 2013 as part of the November and December 2014 updates for Office, and will be installed via Windows Update.