Word 2013: document details not deleted from the registry

Office for Mere Mortals helps people around the world get more from Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Delivered once a week. free.

Your document actions are still stored even after you’ve told Office 2013 to remove them.

Go to the File | Open pane in Word 2013, right-click and choose ‘Remove from List’ will delete any indication that a particular document/s had been opened. Right?

WrongOffice 2013 retains information about past documents that anyone can see. The Windows registry still retains recently used document information that’s not directly editable by users and most people would not realize was there.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Word%202013%20Remove%20from%20List.png image from Word 2013:  document details not deleted from the registry at Office-Watch.com

It’s a clear privacy breach and means Microsoft has forgotten the basics of customer privacy as well as the history of Office development.

‘Remove from List’ was a feature that users asked Microsoft for many years and finally got it in Office 2010.

But that privacy hasn’t lasted long. In Word 2013 (including Service Pack 1), Microsoft has effectively restored the list of past documents opened and not made it editable by users. That’s because the ‘Remove from List’ action in Office 2013 doesn’t completely remove the Most Recently Used information.

When you choose ‘Remove from List’ that document’s details are deleted from the appropriate MRU key — HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice15.0WordUser MRU or HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice15.0WordFile MRU

but the matching details are NOT removed from HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice15.0WordReading Locations where the last 50 local or network opened documents are also recorded.

It’s simple enough for anyone interested in your document history to go into the registry and see what you’ve been opening. Exactly the sort of thing that ‘Remove from List’ was supposed to prevent. Not the sort of gaping hole we’re supposed to expect from the allegedly ‘privacy conscious’ Microsoft.

Want More?

Office Watch has the latest news and tips about Microsoft Office. Independent since 1996. Delivered once a week.