A bishop [+Martyn Minns] in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola,’ began a Church Times article in August.

The reference to ‘computer tracking software’ was probably to a little-known feature of Word called ‘Track Changes’. Like several things in Microsoft, this does more than you might realize and much more than you might want. As one internet article puts it, ‘Accidentally sending personal information about yourself can cause embarrassing consequences.’

To which Akinola, Minns and others can only add, ‘Hear, hear!’ The good news for them is that many more Word documents floating around will suffer from the same problem. So if you’ve got a Word document sitting on your computer – no matter how far removed from the original author – that could show up the colour of someone’s underpants, now’s the time to get looking.

Here, apparently, is how you get to see those embarrassing details (should they exist). On the toolbar, click >View, > Toolbars, > Reviewing. This then gives you access to a ‘Track Changes and Comments’ toolbar. You will need to familiarize yourself with this function in order to see all the details the document contains. The most important thing, of course, is to know how to get rid of this information; it does appear to be a bit fiddly.

You might have noticed I say ‘apparently’. This is because I do not use Microsoft Word, but have stuck with one of the original market leaders, namely Corel Corporation’s WordPerfect. As someone whose tombstone will not read, ‘I wish I’d spent more time on the computer,’ I would state categorically that I find this a far easier and more efficient programme than Word, which makes me spit chips every time I’m forced to work with it on someone else’s machine. And while it may still include so called metadata, at least it reminds you to look for it if it is there.

So, if you are a Word user, my thoughts go out to you. So, get panicking and scurrying, my little Microsoft friends.

John Richardson