Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Preventing Printing.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 13, 2015)
An industrious WordTips subscriber asked if it is possible to prevent a user from actually printing a document in Word. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way short of making sure the user doesn't have a printer attached to their system.
Why? The easy answer is because Word is meant to print things. You can, of course, customize Word so that the print-related commands are removed from the toolbars and menus. You can also replace Word's built-in print commands with commands that do nothing. However, that doesn't stop people from actually doing a screen print of what is on the computer screen, thereby ending up with the information on a printout. In addition, people could bypass executing the macros by simply disabling them when the document is loaded. Another way around such customizations is for the user to simply copy text from the print-inhibited document and paste it into a new document that has no such customizations. The document could then easily be printed.
You can also try non-Word solutions, such as using Adobe Acrobat to create a protected PDF file that cannot be printed. However, even then the user could still do a screen print of what they see.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1583) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Preventing Printing.
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Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.