If you use Outlook 2002 and Word 2002 you may have encountered a message along
the lines of "Do you want to merge changes?" when opening a document
attached to an email. Have you ever wondered why this message appears?
Did you know you may be unknowingly embedding your email address and other
personal information in Office documents you attach to an Outlook email?
One of the new "features" of Outlook 2002 is to automatically add
Reviewing data to every Office document you attach to an email. This could be
an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, or Word document.
How it Works
When you create an email in Outlook 2002 and attach an Office document, Outlook
adds the following to the File Properties (Custom tab):
This information is added to the File Properties without your knowledge
and is saved with the document you are sending.
If you receive a Word document you previously sent as an attachment in an email
either from another email, on a floppy, local drive, network drive, etc, upon
opening the document in Word you will be presented with a message similar to
the following image:
- If you choose to merge changes and answer Yes, Word will merge the
original document into the copy of the document you are opening. This is similar
to using the Compare and Merge Documents command found under the Tools
menu. All modifications between the two documents are marked as revisions
and the Reviewing toolbar is turned on.
- If you choose not to merge changes and answer No, the documents are
not merged; however, the Custom File Properties will remain and you
will be prompted to merge changes each time you open the document.
- If you choose not to merge changes and answer No, and don't ask again,
the documents are not merged and the Custom File Properties are
This may all sound okay on paper but in the real world this doesn't work so
well. Not to mention how incredibly annoying it could beand there is the
issue of personal information stored in the Office documents without the sender's
Word documents are the only Office documents in which you could encounter the
merge changes message but Outlook adds the Custom Properties to Excel and PowerPoint
files as well.
So what's the problem you ask? The concern here isn't with the individual you
may send the attachments to; the problem is with third parties who may view
Take, for example, a company manager who works on Office documents at home.
The easiest way to send files to the office is via email. The manager uses his/her
personal email address to send the documents to work and those documents are
then distributed throughout the workplace.
This, in turn, distributes the manager's personal and confidential home email
address throughout the company and he may suddenly find his home email address
on every mailing list imaginable thanks to one disgruntled employee.
How to Turn Automatic Review Off
Luckily this option can be disabled by opening Outlook and performing the following
- Click Tools in the menu bar
- Then select Options
- On the Preferences tab click E-mail options
- Then click Advanced E-mail options
- At the bottom disable Add properties to attachments to enable Reply with
For those who may need to push this change to their users the option is stored
in the Registry at:
Can I Still Send Documents for Review?
Turning the option off in Outlook doesn't mean you are unable to take advantage
of this feature in Word when you actually want to send a document for review.
In those situations you can send the document from Word by using the Send
to Mail Recipient (for Review) command found under the File menu.
Additionally, this method only adds a ReviewCycleID to Custom File
Properties. Your email address, email subject, etc, are not added.
Removing Custom AdHoc Review File Properties
To manually remove Custom Review Properties from an Office document perform
the following steps:
- Open the Office document
- Click File in the menu bar
- Then click Properties
- Select the Custom tab
- Select each property you wish to remove and click Delete
This article was brought to you by the collaborative effort of several individuals
in the Microsoft
newsgroups. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Changing the option in Outlook will only affect new email attachments. However you can clear the list of AdHocReview files by locating: AdHoc.rcd and either rename it or delete it.
The Custom File Properties will still be present in the document(s) but the annoying Merge Changes message should no longer appear.