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Tracked Changes Won't Go Away

Kathryn is experiencing a problem related to Word 2003's Track Changes feature. It seems that when a document has tracked changes, and those changes are eventually all accepted, that they don't really go away. As a final step, she changes the view of the document to "Final" and saves it, but when the document is next opened, it has reverted to "Final Showing Markup"—and all the changes are back again.

Here is the way that Track Changes is supposed to work in Word. When you turn it on, any edits you make are noted in the document as "markup." This markup is supposed to be visible on the screen, provided you are viewing the document as "Final Showing Markup." You can either temporarily hide the markup (change the view to "Final"), or you can get rid of the markup by resolving the changes (accept or reject them). If all of the changes are resolved, then there should be no difference between the two views ("Final Showing Markup" and "Final") because there is no longer any markup to show.

With that understanding, if you go through a document and resolve all the changes, there should be no need to change the view to "Final" as the only reason to use that view is to temporarily hide changes. Yet, there are no changes left because you've resolved them all. The only reason to switch the view to "Final" is if you haven't resolved all the changes.

So, there are two possibilities in Kathryn's case. If the changes have not truly been resolved (individually or collectively accepted or rejected), then the problem is related to the view changing from "Final" to "Final Showing Markup" when the document is reopened. If this is the problem, then it is probably a simple fix. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Security tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Security tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Make Hidden Markup Visible when Opening or Saving check box.
  5. Click OK.

The second possibility in Kathryn's case is that the changes have truly been resolved, but that the document is being overwritten by an older version of the document. This could happen in a networked environment—perhaps two people have copies of the document and are essentially working on them at the same time. One person gets done editing her copy, resolving all the changes, and then puts it into a network drive for the rest of the office to use. The second person works on his copy, but doesn't resolve all the changes. When done (with unresolved changes), the document is copied to the network drive, overwriting the "more done" copy that was stored there before.

If this is what is happening, the solution is to make sure that each person uses a new document name before copying his or her copy to the network drive. This will avoid any overwriting that may be occurring.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3786) applies to Microsoft Word 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

Martin Walke    30 Nov 2016, 06:24
I had the same problem as Kathryn with Word 2010.
During editing, I had selected the option in File/Options/Advanced that shows the Field Shading as "Always" so that I could see all my links in the documents without hovering over them.
Putting this back to "When selected" allowed me to save my document without this irritating message.
Giovanni    24 Aug 2016, 12:52
go to file
Click on "check for issues"
Then click on "inspect Document"
Check the box under " Comments, Revisions, Versions and annotations" and uncheck the other boxes
Click on "inspect"
Click on "Remove all"
Click on "Re Inspect"
Save the document
Voila !!!
nicola    27 Jul 2016, 10:42
I experience almost the same problem with Microsoft word 2010.

I have track changes on.
I "reject" a format modification, it is not shown, save the file, close the file, open the file, the modification is still there.
I am the only user who can access the file.
Steve Jess    12 Apr 2016, 10:25

Select 'Show Box' next to Track Change Boxes

De-select 'Insertions and Deletions'

Job Done
Joe Spivack    18 Feb 2016, 09:39
How to fix this issue in Word 2007:

Office button (upper left) => Word Options => Trust Center => Trust Center Settings (button at right) => Privacy Options => Document-Specific Settings group (middle panel) = > Uncheck "Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving" => OK => OK

Then => Review menu => Tracking group => change drop down to say "Final" and save the document.

Next time you open the document, tracked changes will stay hidden.
Jamie Loonam    26 Oct 2015, 11:42
Thank you so much!! This was driving me crazy.
Mike P    20 Apr 2015, 23:36
to get rid of track changes permanently, click on 1st comment then chose "delete all comments" in the delete box under comments in the Review strip on top
Barbara    04 Mar 2015, 00:25
Just read on Proofreading.com that the problem may be that the track changes button must always be OFF. If it is ON, changes are recorded. I always thought it had to be ON to do anything at all... So perhaps that's part of the problem.
So I turned it to OFF, did another manual check of 'accept all changes'.
It worked. Everything gone. I saved file. And I tried to bring them all back, just to check, and couldn't.
Barbara    04 Mar 2015, 00:06
I did all of the above, found the Tools option on my MAC but still can't find an 'option' to remove accepted track changes... unless it's 'Warn before printing saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes' or 'Remove personal information from this file on save"... This is extremely frustrating because I can't even copy and paste text from a document with track changes. They have been accepted but they LIVE THERE FOREVER. All I can do is hope the recipient turns OFF review and reverts file to FINAL. But its entirely WRONG.
Richard Arbib    27 Feb 2015, 15:18
How do you fix this problem using Microsoft Word for Mac? There is no Options to click on under Tools, so I don't see how to get to the sentence that I need to uncheck that says: "Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving."
Joan    24 Jan 2015, 22:13

I accidentally "accepted" all of my comments by my professor. Now that I need them, they are missing. Is there any way that I can bring them back to my paper?


Ed Violette    22 Jan 2015, 13:06
I had the same problem with a word document originally created in a MAC environment with final edits made on in Word 2007.

Accept all changes does NOT work, but if scroll through individually it does.

Ashley Thomas    07 Jan 2015, 22:29

I am having the exact same problem that Kathryn did. Basically, as it was described above, this is the problem: "It seems that when a document has tracked changes, and those changes are eventually all accepted, that they don't really go away. As a final step, she changes the view of the document to "Final" and saves it, but when the document is next opened, it has reverted to "Final Showing Markup"—and all the changes are back again." Out of the 2 possibilities for what is wrong, I believe it is possibility 1 (not possibility 2). But the description on this website to solve Kathryn's issue is for PC users. I am a Mac user. I figured out how to get to Security using Word on a Mac: When you're in Word, click on "Word" on the top bar of tabs (next to the Apple symbol), and then click "Preferences" and then click "Security". There is not an option called "Make hidden mark-up visible when opening or saving" to check/uncheck, like what was described above for Kathryn. That is not an option in the Security settings of a Mac. I would be really appreciative if you could provide a solution to completely turn tracked changes OFF using the most recent version of Word on a Mac. (Like I said, same problem as Kathryn: I'll turn Track Changes OFF and then click "Final" within Tracking, and unclick everything for Show Markup, and then save it (also tried saving it as a new name), but then as soon as the document is re-opened (whether the actual document or the newly named version), Word reverts the document back to "Final Showing Markup". How do I get it to stay on "Final" (i.e. for Tracked Changes to remain OFF)?? Thanks in advance!!

Alan Pickering    29 Oct 2014, 00:16
In 2013, you will need to find this check box in Save As- Tools- Macro Security- Privacy Options.

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