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Discover the Content Status flag in Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Tucked away in Microsoft Office is a little used tag ‘Content Status’ or just ‘Status’ that could help manage and find Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in organizations.

Unfortunately, Content Status is only used once in Office features.  It’s supported in Windows Explorer if you know where to look.  On the Mac it’s all but ignored.

Content Status or just Status is set at File | Info | Properties.  It’s one of the lesser properties so you’ll have to click ‘Show All Properties’ to see it.

Click on the field next to ‘Status’ and type whatever you like.

It’s a text property with no pull-down selection so type whatever you like: Draft, Pending, On Hold, In Abeyance, Awaiting Info, Needs Attention, Alive, Nonsense, Final, Finished, Finis, Completed, Ended, Dead.

Windows only not Office for Mac

Content Status is NOT supported on Office for Mac with a few exceptions.

  • A document marked as Final does open with the same status bar warning as other Office incarnations … but that’s as far as it goes with Mac support for Status.
  • VBA on Office for Mac does allow reading and writing document properties like Content Status. The VBA code below works on Office 365 for Mac, as it should!

Yes, there is a Status property if you drill down to File | Properties | Custom and scroll down the long name list.  However, that’s a custom property not an in-built document property.

Content Status isn’t supported as a property/column in Mac Finder.

Content Status is Final

Eagle-eyed readers noticed the mention of Content Status in another article. When a document is ‘Marked as Final’ the Content Status flag is changed to ‘Final’.

That’s the only ‘official’ use of the content status flag.

Otherwise you can type in your own content status as shown above.

Set a default Content Status

The default content status is blank but that can be changed.

Edit the normal.dotm  or other document template and set a preferred status at File | Info | Properties.

Whenever a new document is created from that template, it will inherit the status property of the template.

Status in Explorer

Content Status can appear as a column in Windows Explorer.

Right-click on the Explorer column headings, below the standard column options choose ‘More …’ then select ‘Content Status’.

Now any content status will appear.

Finding documents by Content Status

It’s possible to find documents by their content status though you’re entirely forgiven for not realising it.  Status isn’t listed as a searchable property under the Explorer Search tools.

Content Status is just one of many searchable items not exposed on the Search ribbon.

All that’s needed is the term  contentstatus:  followed by a whole or part term.

Capitalization doesn’t matter in searches, look for ‘final’ to find docs with status ‘Final’ or ‘FINAL’.

Part searches are supported without wildcard, contentstatus:draft  will show documents with status ‘Draft’ , ‘Draft needs work’ or ‘Revised Draft’.

Here’s a selection of documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) with different content status.

contentstatus:Draft   – returns both the Letter template and the Word document

contentstatus:final  – returns the doc with status ‘Final’.

contentstatus:police – returns the doc with status ‘Hide from Police’.

Content Status under the hood

For those interested in the gory details.

Content Status is saved within the document in DocProps/Core.xml as cp:coreProperties /  cp:contentStatus


That’s with other in-built document properties like dc:title and dc:creator.

In VBA it’s a BuiltIn document property. This code works in Office for Windows and Mac:

ActiveDocument.BuiltInDocumentProperties("Content Status").Value = "None of your damn business!"

MsgBox (ActiveDocument.BuiltInDocumentProperties("Content Status").Value)

See  Document Properties in Word and Office

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