Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Tracked Changes Won't Go Away.

Tracked Changes Won't Go Away

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 2, 2019)


Kathryn is experiencing a problem related to Word's Track Changes feature. It seems that when a document has tracked changes, and those changes are eventually all accepted, they don't really go away. As a final step, she changes the view of the document to "Final" and saves it, but when the document is next opened, it has reverted to "Final Showing Markup"—and all the changes are back again.

Here is the way that Track Changes is supposed to work in Word. When you turn it on, any edits you make are noted in the document as "markup." This markup is supposed to be visible on the screen, provided you are viewing the document as "Final Showing Markup." You can either temporarily hide the markup (change the view to "Final"), or you can get rid of the markup by resolving the changes (accept or reject them). If all of the changes are resolved, then there should be no difference between the two views ("Final Showing Markup" and "Final") because there is no longer any markup to show.

With that understanding, if you go through a document and resolve all the changes, there should be no need to change the view to "Final" as the only reason to use that view is to temporarily hide changes. Yet, there are no changes left because you've resolved them all. The only reason to switch the view to "Final" is if you haven't resolved all the changes.

So, there are two possibilities in Kathryn's case. If the changes have not truly been resolved (individually or collectively accepted or rejected), then the problem is related to the view changing from "Final" to "Final Showing Markup" when the document is reopened. If this is the problem, then it is probably a simple fix. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Trust Center option at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Click the Trust Center Settings button. Word displays the Trust Center dialog box.
  4. Click Privacy Options at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Privacy Options of the Security Center dialog box.

  6. Clear the Make Hidden Markup Visible when Opening or Saving check box.
  7. Click OK.

It should probably go without saying, that while you can change the privacy options on your system, you can't change them on someone else's system. Thus, if your document has hidden markup, sending the document to someone else will cause that markup to be visible when they open it on their system. (Assuming, of course, that they haven't made the same change to their privacy settings.)

The second possibility in Kathryn's case is that the changes have truly been resolved, but that the document is being overwritten by an older version of the document. This could happen in a networked environment—perhaps two people have copies of the document and are essentially working on them at the same time. One person gets done editing her copy, resolving all the changes, and then puts it into a network drive for the rest of the office to use. The second person works on his copy but doesn't resolve all the changes. When done (with unresolved changes), the document is copied to the network drive, overwriting the "more done" copy that was stored there before.

If this is what is happening, the solution is to make sure that each person uses a new document name before copying his or her copy to the network drive. This will avoid any overwriting that may be occurring.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6082) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Tracked Changes Won't Go Away.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 2 + 2?

2020-05-26 16:28:51

Shane MacPhearson

This is exactly what I needed. Thank you!

2020-03-16 06:28:28


Thanks for the useful tips.

2020-02-14 16:49:22

Toyin Adepoju

Great thanks for this

2019-12-10 00:00:23

Muhammad Zeeshan Arshad


2019-11-05 03:12:49

Maxine Linnell

Thanks for these. Yes, you can accept all changes, or I find, copy the whole document in final version and paste it into a new file.

2019-11-05 02:52:15

Bob Eisenberg

Dear Maxine

Find a friend with a windows machine. Remove everything as I described, then
use your MAC. Or by the cheapest winows machine you can find and do the same. Your time is worth money!

2019-11-04 12:46:04


There is also a funny (non intuitive) way the comments inserted with tracking on, are treated. If the comment-author meant it to be a suggestion to change something in a document, then going through the changes when you get to acomment, accepting the change leaves the comment in while rejecting the change deletes the comment.

2019-11-04 02:40:35

Maxine Linnell

Thanks Bob, I'll try it.

2019-11-03 03:33:38

Bob Eisenberg

Dear Maxine

Here is another way that works in Word on Windows and may work for you.
When you click on the menu item FILE, you see a page with INFO on the top.
One of the choices on that page is CHECK FOR ISSUES.
If you click on that box, one of the choices is INSPECT DOCUMENTS
If you click on that box, one of the choices is COMMENTS, REVISIONS, VERSIONS,
If you click on that, you can remove definitively all comments revisions and versions,
leaving just the pure document.

Hope this works on the MAC version

2019-11-02 04:41:50


Thanks for this - I've been trying to work it out for a long time. But I have word for Mac 365, and can't find the first three options and the Trust Center boot. Any ideas?

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