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How can I change the name that is displayed in the track changes baloons and comments of another person (not myself)?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

It is possible to do this in the new XML-based .docx format used by Word 2007. A .docx file is actually a ZIP file containing the different components of the document, which you can gain access to by renaming the file from filename.docx to

To change the author of tracked changes, open the file word\document.xml in a text editor. The author of each insertion and deletion is specified by the w:author attribute of the corresponding <w:ins> or <w:del> element. Change it to whatever you want, save the file back to the ZIP archive, and rename the file back to filename.docx.

Comments work the same way, except that they're stored in the file word\comments.xml, in <w:comment> elements. You must change the values of both the w:author and w:initials attributes for each comment, or you may get unexpected results.

Understand that doing this is probably a bad idea. The spec suggests that changing the authors of revisions and comments shouldn't cause trouble with other parts of the document, but who knows whether that's true in all cases, and in any event it's pretty easy to make mistakes with these kinds of changes unless you're just doing simple global search/replace operations. If you still want to take the risk, be sure to create backups of everything first.

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thanks! that's a really great tip! that's what I was looking for! don't worry about the risks, I'm a software developer so I should be able to handle that ;) – markus Oct 5 '09 at 19:03
@tharkun - famous last words ;) – ChrisF Oct 5 '09 at 21:03
docProps\core.xml can also contain the reviewer's name. Maybe best to extract the whole zip archive and do a recursive grep... – Jonas Heidelberg Oct 4 '11 at 10:27
Works, have not touched core.xml. Seems to not have any problems as of now. – Milind R Jul 5 at 8:15

If you really need to remove a user name for confidentially reasons, then you can do this:

  1. Save a second copy of the document, so you have a backup!
  2. Save a "before" copy with the user's changes all rejected, and the document metadata cleaned.
  3. Save an "after" copy with the user's changes all accepted, and the document metadata cleaned.
  4. Use "Compare Documents" to compare the two and thus regenerate the tracked changes. Compare Documents has a "label changes with" option that you can then set to any name you like.

However, this does not save comments. If there are just a few comments that are worthwhile, you could recreate them manually by copying and pasting the text.

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hm, that's an interesting approach. maybe a bit expensive but doable. – markus Oct 5 '09 at 15:21
Comments were retained, in my experience. Also, the author of comments that were copy-pasted can be changed to that of the original comment by @phenry 's answer – Milind R Jul 10 at 6:10

Hopefully this answer will be useful as a starting point as I do not have a Word install available at the moment to check and find the definitive answer:

I think this is all to do with the name a user enters in the box when requested when installing the software. It uses this name then for anyone who uses Word on that computer. There is a way this can be changed in Word. I think it's in the advanced properties options. Depending on the version of Word you are using you will get to this via different routes.

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Thanks, but not what I'm asking for. I stated in my question that I DON'T want to change my own name but the name of another user, who works on a document elsewhere on his own install of Office which I cannot influence. – markus Oct 5 '09 at 11:00
Ah, my bad, I'm sure your question wasn't as simply worded as it is now. Oh well, hope you get a workable answer – ianfuture Oct 5 '09 at 18:34

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