Removing timestamps from comments in Word 2016?
March 29, 2018 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to remove timestamps from comments in Word 2016 documents without removing the commenter's name as well?

I've previously managed to remove my name and the time I commented by removing all personal data, so that the commenter's name just shows as 'Author', but this time around the document has multiple commenters and I'd really like to leave my name in. I just want to remove the time that I commented. It doesn't seem to be possible though. Any tips? I'm using Word 2016 and the settings seem to change every dang time they update the program.
posted by rubbish bin night to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: I don't think it's possible. I'm a copy editor who works with Word/Track Changes every day, and have gone round and round on this with other editors. (We sometimes don't want a client to know precisely when we were working on the doc...because Reasons.) I've seen it discussed on editors' forums multiple times, and I've never seen anyone provide a solution.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don’t think it’s possble either. You can get this kind of flexibility with markdown/pandoc, LaTeX, and some other systems. But not Word, because Word sucks.

Maybe in principle you could write a script to operate on the obfuscated XML...
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:02 AM on March 29, 2018

Yes, this is possible! This has become one of my domestic responsibilities over the last few months. It is a little complicated, but once you get the hang of it it's not too bad.

Here is a summary of the steps. I'll try to write out more complete instructions later, as there are some gotchas.
  1. Change the extension of the Word document from ".docx" to ".zip"
  2. Unzip the file.
  3. Open the files "document.xml" and "comments.xml" in a text editor
  4. Use search and replace to change all occurrences of "Your Name" w:date=" to "Your Name" w:ignore="
  5. Save the files. Rezip the contents of the zip file
  6. Change the extension of the zip file back to "docx".
As I said, the process is a little fussy. Let me know if you want me to write out more detailed instructions. If so it would be helpful to know what kind of computer you're using.

Oh, one thing: if you're on a Mac you'll need to use the Terminal to unzip and zip the archives. For some reason the version of zip used by the Finder doesn't work on these archives.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2018 [28 favorites]

The answer by Winnie the Proust seems really easily scriptable, I don't have access to word to try and put something together. Maybe another mefite could help.
posted by adventureloop at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2018

Winnie, you're a star! It works perfectly. Thank you so much.

(I just don't see the need for anyone to know how late I stayed up working on this, and I certainly don't want my boss to get any ideas about this being a regular occurrence, heh. Now she'll never know.)
posted by rubbish bin night at 11:33 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

(Well that xml was not nearly as bad as I thought, thanks Winnie, I will use this too! I guess I should have said it’s not possible In Word :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Adventureloop, yes it would be trivially scriptable. Sadly even that is beyond my capabilities. Maybe some bash-savvy mefite will be inspired.

Rubbish -- I'm glad that the fruits of my late-night teeth gnashing are going to be useful to more than just me and Mrs. Proust.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2018

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