Author Anonymizer – Documentation

Author Anonymizer icon Author Anonymizer modifies author information in Tracked Changes, comments and document properties in Word documents in order to anonymize real names or correct them.

Detailed information about Author Anonymizer

Note: Author Anonymizer is included in TransTools+ version 2. Upgrade by downloading the latest version.

How Author Anonymizer can help you in your work

  • Change specific user names in revisions (tracked changes), comments and/or document properties to an anonymized name such as “Translator”, “Editor”, etc. You can specify any replacement name.
  • Remove all author information from revisions (tracked changes), comments and/or document properties. This feature is similar to the existing Word functionality.
  • Customize which types of document information should be anonymized. You can optionally anonymize revisions (tracked changes), comments, Author property, Last Saved By property, Manager property and Company property.
  • You can also use Author Anonymizer to correct author information in Word documents, e.g. when the existing author names are misspelt, etc.
  • You no longer need to remember to set the correct name in Word Options before starting your work on a Word document. Update any document at any time.
  • Batch-process multiple documents at once.

Where to find the tool

To run Author Anonymizer, click Author Anonymizer button on TransTools+ ribbon:

Author Anonymizer button on TransTools+ ribbon

This will open Author Anonymizer window.

Author Anonymizer window

Using Author Anonymizer

At a glance, here is how to modify author names in one or more documents:

  1. Open Author Anonymizer tool by using Author Anonymizer button under Word’s TransTools+ tab.
  2. Select the documents you would like to process, or use Process current (active) document option to process the current document only.
  3. If you need to change specific or all author names in revisions (tracked changes), comments and/or document properties, use Update author information action, then specify author names you would like to replace and the new author name and author initials you would like to use instead. Author Anonymizer will search each document for the specified author names used in revisions, comments and/or document properties, and replace them with the new name.
  4. If you need to clear author names in revisions (tracked changes), comments and/or document properties similar to the way that Microsoft Office removes personal information (i.e. by using “Author” for revisions and comments and by clearing document properties), then use Remove all author information action.
  5. Check the checkboxes representing the types of document information you would like to anonymize: Revisions (tracked changes), Comments, Author property, Last Saved By property, Manager property and Company property.
  6. Click the Next button and follow the prompts to complete the process.

You will find detailed instructions for using Author Anonymizer in the sections below.

Selecting documents to process

If you would like to process several documents at once, click Add files... button to add files and select the documents. Author Anonymizer supports the following types of documents: Word Documents (*.DOCX), Word Macro-Enabled Documents (*.DOCM), Word 97-2003 Documents (*.DOC), Word Templates (*.DOTX), Word Macro-Enabled Templates (*.DOTM), Word 97-2003 Templates (*.DOT), Rich-Text documents (*.RTF). To add all documents of supported formats located in a specific folder, click Add folder... button and select the folder.

If you would like to process the current document only, select Process current (active) document option. Note that Author Anonymizer will need to save this document before it can process it.

Selecting documents to process

Update Author Information action

By default, the tool uses Update Author Information action which replaces specific author names found in the document(s) with a new author name. For example, if a team of linguists have updated a Word document using tracked changes and/or comments, the names of these linguists appearing in tracked changes and comments will be changed to a single anonymized name like “Translator” or “Editor”. You can also correct misspelt names using this action. To perform this action, make sure that Update author information in selected in the Action dropdown list. Then specify the names of users that need to be updated:

  • Use the Add button to specify a single name.
  • Use the Add From button to extract names from documents and add them to the list. When you click this button, you will see a menu with two options – Add from document(s) to be processed (to extract names from the documents you have selected above) and Add from custom documents... (to choose custom documents to extract names from). Names will be extracted according to the document information options (see below), so if the Revisions and Comments checkboxes are the only checkboxes that are checked, the names will be extracted from revisions (tracked changes) and comments only.
    Adding authors using Add From button
  • Use the Edit button to change a selected name.
  • Use the Remove button to remove one or several selected names.

By default, Author Anonymizer searches documents for the provided author names in case-insensitive way, i.e. "D" and "d" are considered identical. If you want to use case-sensitive search, activate Match Case checkbox below the author name list.

You will also need to specify the new author name and initials. In the New Author field, enter the new author name which will replace the author names specified in the list above. In the New Author Initials field, specify the initials (e.g. “JD” for “John Doe” or “T” for “Translator”) – these initials will appear in comments if the author name is updated. New Author Initials field may be left blank, and its text must not be longer than 9 characters.

Options of Update Author Information action
Options of Update Author Information action

To complete the configuration of Update author information action, do not forget to check the appropriate checkboxes below in order to indicate which document information must be updated.

Remove All Author Information action

In addition to replacing author names, Author Anonymizer can remove author information as follows: tracked changes and comments will be marked as created by “Author”, while document properties will be reset to blanks. To perform this action, select “Remove all author information” option from the Action dropdown list. This action is similar to the removal of personal information done by the Document Inspector, although this option does not activate “Remove personal information from document properties on save” setting for the processed documents.

Options of Remove All Author Information action
Options of Remove All Author Information action

Document information to update

When you use any of the two possible actions – Update author information action or Remove all author information action – the tool will only process certain parts of each document as per the checkboxes in Process The Following Document Information group:

  • Revisions (also known as “tracked changes”). Each revision is marked with the name of the author that created it, and the tool will update this name with the specified New Author Name when using the Update Author Information action (if the existing author name matches one of the specified names), or with “Author” if you select Remove All Author Information action. Revisions are processed by default.
  • Comments. Each comment is marked with the name and initials of the author that created it. The tool will update this name with the specified New Author Name and New Author Initials when using the Update Author Information action (if the existing author name matches one of the specified names), or with “Author” for name and “A” for initials if you select Remove All Author Information action. Note that the New Author Initials may be left blank, and they must not be longer than 9 characters. Comments are processed by default.
  • Document properties. These are information fields that describe a document and they can be found in the Info section under the File tab of Microsoft Word. The tool will update properties with the specified New Author Name when using the Update Author Information action (if the property value matches one of the specified names), or with an empty value if you select Remove All Author Information action. The tool can process the following document properties:

    • Author document property. This document property contains one or more names of people who created the document.
    • Last Saved By document property. This property is filled in by Word automatically when a document is saved. Note that this property cannot be updated or cleared in the following formats: Word 97-2003 Documents (*.DOC), Word 97-2003 Templates (*.DOT) and Rich-Text documents (*.RTF) – this is because Author Anonymizer needs to resave these types of documents during the processing operation, and resaving causes this property to be updated automatically.
    • Manager document property. This document property contains one or more names of people who managed the work on creating the document.
    • Company document property. This document property contains the name of the company which created the document.

Document information types processed by Author Anonymizer
Options in Process The Following Document Information group

Saving and loading settings to/from profiles

If you use the same anonymization settings occasionally, you can save time by using the Profiles area located at the top of the anonymization settings:

Profiles area

For example, you can create a profile that contains the names of all translators in your translation team, in order to replace them with “Translator”, saving time on setting up Author Anonymizer.

By default, the list of profiles contains only one entry – “(Default profile)”. This profile contains default settings which are loaded automatically as you open Author Anonymizer. You can save your often-used settings to this profile if you want these settings to be loaded automatically.

To create a new profile and save the current settings to it, open the drop-down list of profiles and select (Create new profile...) entry. To load the settings from a profile, select it and click the Load button. To save current settings to a profile, select that profile and click the Save button, or create a new profile as described above. To delete a profile, select it in the list and click Remove button.

All profiles are stored in individual files inside a special folder: C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\TransTools+\Author Anonymizer Profiles .
Use this folder if you need to back up the tool settings or copy them to another computer. If you are a power user, you can also modify profile settings using these files.

Performing anonymization

Once you have defined the documents to be processed and configured the anonymization settings, it is time to complete the anonymization process. Click the Next > button to advance to the next step. Author Anonymizer will check each document for potential issues. Depending on the action chosen, you may see one of the possible screens:

  1. If you selected Update author information action, you may see the following screen:
    Handling documents with Remove Personal Information On Save setting when performing Update Author Information action
    This warning appears when some or all of the documents you are about to process have a special privacy setting called “Remove personal information from file properties on save” (this setting is available under File > Word Options > Trust Center > Privacy Options). When a document has this setting, Word automatically removes author information every time a document is saved, so unless this setting is deactivated, Author Anonymizer cannot perform the required action. So, this screen provides the list of documents which have this privacy setting, and suggests to skip these documents or deactivate this setting. By default, “Deactivate Remove Personal Information On Save” setting is activated, i.e. Author Anonymizer will deactivate Remove Personal Information On Save privacy setting for all listed documents prior to anonymizing these documents as per your settings.
  2. If you selected Remove all author information action, you may see a similar screen:
    Handling documents with Remove Personal Information On Save setting when performing Remove All Author Information action
    This means that some documents you are about to process have a privacy setting called “Remove personal information from file properties on save” (see above). Since this setting produces the same effect as Remove all author information action, i.e. it sets the author of revisions and comments to “Author” and clears certain document properties, Author Anonymizer has only one option – to skip these documents.

Click the Next > button to proceed.

The next screen offers an option to back up all the documents before they are updated:

Back-up settings

If you want to back up original documents before processing, make sure that this checkbox is activated (this is the default setting). The original documents will be backed up in the original folders, and the backed-up files will have the date and time of the processing operation added to the end of their file names, e.g. if you process a document named “Sample document”, the back-up file will be named something like “Sample document_2024-01-30-13-01” (if processing took place at 13:01 on January 30, 2024).

Finally, click the Process >> button to process the files. You will see a processing report:

Finish report

Review the processing report. Normally, you will see “Updated successfully” if changes were made or “No changes are needed for this document” if no author updates were necessary. However, if any errors occur, they will be reported here.