Tracked Changes Won't Go Away

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 1, 2016)


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, that 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 and Word 2013 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 with out 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, and 2013.

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 eight minus 3?

2017-06-23 10:43:08


Kyle Steinle

Yes they end up being locked forms - but after I am done making them, not while I'm working on them.

2017-06-22 09:14:38


"... because this will be a locked form ...."

RainL - this suggest to me that perhaps you may have been experimenting with locking the form and while doing so you left the document in a protected state with track changes on? If not, you could try copying the text to a fresh document.

2017-06-21 14:22:45

Kyle Steinle

Thank you! I always find your site useful. A valuable resource!

2017-06-15 16:41:30


This is not working for me. I don't even have track changes on/enabled and it's tracking everything I do in my document. How do I get it to stop tracking my changes!
This track change issue started yesterday - no idea why. I have MS Word 2007 (saving to legacy 97-2003) and because this will be a locked form saved online for clients to use I cannot have track changes enabled.
I'm creating a 2 page form, which will be viewed and used by a lot of people.


2017-03-01 10:16:22

a different Dave

Thank you. You make me look good!

2017-01-26 12:15:28


Very helpful - thanks for making my day

2016-11-25 10:42:59


Worked perfectly!No matter what I did, every time I tried to save my doc, the markups would open with the doc. Frustrating....but now fixed :)
Thank you!

2016-11-08 20:00:32



This worked great. I won't state where I work, but this issue was occurring for a high level individual and their administrator was pulling their hair out over this. Thank you and Google!



2016-10-25 00:21:29



Those markups were driving me mad. I had to go into te trust center and follow your lead... BINGO ! Thank you so much !

- Eric

2016-10-11 15:06:03


I'm have a different tracking problem. I like to edit with "original showing markup" and use the side balloons for comments to make it easy for my colleagues to skim down for comments in a long document. But when I save it with that setting, it reopens with "final showing markup," and the comments I made are in the body of the text while the original text is in the balloons. It's backwards. How can I fix this?

2016-10-05 04:38:58


Thank you! You have saved my boss and I a ton of aggravation!

2016-09-07 08:59:14


It worked! thank you so much!

2016-09-01 09:45:32

Henry Noble

If the document is final, at least for the moment, and the tracked changes are no longer needed, it may be helpful to go the File menu, click on the Check for Issues button, and let Word inspect the document. Word can "scrub" the tracking info, and other info, you don't want.

2016-08-25 21:57:12

a different Kathryn

If this works, you're golden. I can't believe it was this complicated to get the $%&@ comments to disappear for...anyone else who reads the draft I'm working on. I feel like I've discovered pirate treasure. Thank you.

2016-07-26 09:53:09

Karla L

Excellent! This has been driving me crazy and the solution was there all the time - buried in settings. Thanks -

2016-06-13 05:04:05


I've been driven mad by Word documents opening in 'showing markup' mode every time. Each time I have to laboriously go to the Review tab and select Final from the drop-down menu before I can begin working. If I close and re-open that document or open several documents in a session it becomes infuriating, so I was very pleased to read your solution.
Sadly though, it simply didn't work, even after closing and re-starting Word. Everything still opens in Markup mode. I suspect that this is hard-wired into the program and can't be changed.

2016-03-25 21:46:47


amazingly, when you wrote: "... the changes have not truly been resolved. "
That set off a light bulb over my head.

So I went back to the Document and went to the ACCEPT button (where I had been trying to Accept All for the past half hour).

But this time I selected "Accept & Move to NEXT." And that took me to a Comment --- which for some reason could not be Accepted/Resolved.

So I just DELETED the Comment. And all was Good in the Neighborhood !


2016-03-11 11:42:15


Much appreciated, this worked immediately!

2016-03-07 11:37:40

A User

Worked - thanks

2016-01-14 06:50:29

Thank you very much! Finally some help to resolve this very annoying problem!

2015-11-11 07:13:51


Yup just what I needed thanks!!!

2015-06-03 07:02:19


Oh, finally! Dane driven crazy here! Thank you.

2015-05-18 12:08:47


Exactly what I needed, thanks!

2015-05-10 20:05:19

Katy Gray

Oh thank God I found this! It was doing my head in every time I opened a word document. :)

2014-11-05 10:22:03


Just what I needed! It was driving me crazy too. WordTips is far better than a google search!

2014-10-23 14:26:08


Thank you this was very helpful!

2014-08-18 13:51:56


You Made my day, thank you!

2014-04-11 15:08:21


Thank you! This has been driving me a little crazy for the last year.

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