Incorrect Last Modified Date on E-mailed Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 16, 2020)


When Rehana edits and saves a Word document, the "Last Modified" date stored in the document properties is set to today's date. If she takes that same document, a week later, and e-mails it to someone else as an attachment, then when they open it on their system it shows the "Last Modified" date as the date when it was e-mailed (in addition to the "Created" date). This, despite the fact that the original document (still on Rehana's system) shows the week-old "Last Modified" date. She would like the "Last Modified" and other property dates to remain correct when she e-mails the document to others.

The dates that Rehana is speaking of are those that are visible when you display the Properties dialog box. There are three dates shown on the General tab: Created, Modified, and Accessed. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The General tab of the Properties dialog box.

These three dates are maintained internally by Word. You can access some of them within your document by using the appropriate fields, but you cannot change the dates directly. The dates change, automatically, as you use commands or take actions that affect the actual date associated with the document file in Windows. For instance, if you use the Save As command, then Word updates the Created date on the target of the action, instead of carrying over the Created date from the original file.

The upshot of this is that the interaction of the property dates with the fields within your document can have some unwanted ramifications. For instance, you may have a CreateDate field in your document that shows when the document was created. If you use Save As or take another action (like e-mailing the document to someone else and they save it on their system), then the CreateDate field in the new document will reflect the newly changed Created date from the document's properties.

One potential workaround is to add your own comments to the document's properties. The comments are stored on the Summary tab of the Properties dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Summary tab of the Properties dialog box.

Your comment could, for instance, include the date that the document really was created. If the date is the only thing in the comments, then you can include it in your document by using the Comments field rather than the CreateDate field.

Another potential workaround is to consider unlinking any CreateDate fields in your document so that they are static text instead of dynamic fields. (Simply select the fields and press Shift+Ctrl+F9.) This could be done before you e-mail the document to someone else, and then it wouldn't matter what the Create date became in the document's properties. (This approach, of course, is only viable if the problem is with the reflection of the property dates through fields in the document.)

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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 9 + 6?

2014-07-14 07:25:53

Rachel Rifkind

I also create a modified date and create date in the Custom tab of the document's properties.

2014-07-14 04:24:50


I agree with all that has been said.

With many (most?) documents it's not so much the literal 'create date' that's important it's the release (or publication) date. On our documents we maintain both a 'release date' and a 'validity date' they are stored as custom document properties and maintained with macros. Word never alters them autonomously.

What I find frustrating – and what I had hoped might have been in the answer to Rehana's question – is when the author has NOT taken care to identify when a document was created (or released). I often need to answer the question – 'when was this document originated?'.

BTW: Word also maintains a printed date' this can be EARLIER than the created date! In such cases I always suspect create data is incorrect.

2014-07-12 06:37:43

John Craig

I make every date in the Document STATIC and Today's Date with a macro.
ALT-D stamps the document with today's date (or ALT-S date:time) and is a habit from over 2 decades of getting weary with MS's changing the date. I never use the variable date form fields because they are so undependable.

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