How To Turn Off the Track Changes Function in Microsoft Word

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have a job that involves a lot of writing, research and peer review, you probably use Microsoft Word's track changes feature. Though you might enjoy the helpful visualizations for all the changes that happen in your document, there might also be a time you want to shut them off entirely. Reading about some of the options available in Word's track changes feature might give you some strategies to control what feedback you see and focus on the changes you really want to make in your work.

In this article, we define what track changes is, detail how to turn track changes off, answer some frequently asked questions about the feature and provide a list of tips you can consider while using track changes.

What is track changes?

Track changes is a function in Microsoft Word that allows you to see the changes you make to your documents. It also allows you to see what other people change when they edit your work. Since track changes visualizes each edit, you can highlight individual changes and decide to keep them or remove them. This makes it a popular tool for professionals who want to revise one particular document over a long period of time, receive easy-to-read feedback from other professionals and keep a record of every change.

Related: Track Changes in Google Docs: What It Is and How To Use It

How to turn off track changes

Here are some steps you can follow if you want to turn off track changes:

1. Go to the "Review" tab

Start by clicking on the "Review" tab and going to the "Tracking" section. You can then select "Track Changes" and set it to "Off." Even though you turned off track changes, the edits and comments still remain in your document. These changes will stay in your document until you delete them or accept them. You can tell the track changes function is off by typing something new in the document and seeing if it's underlined.

2. Open the reviewing pane

To remove any remaining tracked changes, you can click on the "Review" tab and go to "Tracking." From here, you can select the "Reviewing Pane," which shows all of the edits and comments left in your document. Click on "Reviewing Pane Horizontal" if you want to review these changes at the bottom of your screen, or click on "Reviewing Pane Vertical" if you want to review the pages on the side of your screen. You can keep the reviewing pane up while you remove comments and edits to ensure that you accept or delete all of them.

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3. Click the beginning of your document

To accept or reject comments in the exact order they appear in your document, click the line before your first sentence. Then click on the "Review" tab and go to "Changes." From here, you can click on the "Accept" or "Reject" button, and Word will skip to the next tracked change. You can also remove single edits by right-clicking on them and selecting from the "Accept Insertation" and "Reject Insertation" options.

If you want to accept or reject all the tracked changes at the same time, you can click on the "Review" tab, go to "Changes," and find the "Accept" and "Reject" drop-down menus. You can then choose "Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking" or "Reject All Changes and Stop Tracking." This is one of the most efficient ways to remove all the changes from your document.

4. Hide track changes when you print

Even if you hide tracked changes, they will remain on your document when you print them unless you accept or reject them. This means that the edits and comments will still remain when you print. If you want to print without deleting all your tracked changes, you can click on the "File" tab, select "Print," and then choose "Settings" from the pop-up window. From here, click on "Print All Pages," and select "Print Markup" under "Document Info."

Related: How To Add a Page Border in Microsoft Word in 4 Simple Steps

Frequently asked questions about track changes

Here are some questions that people often ask about track changes:

Why learn how to turn off track changes?

Learning how to turn off track changes is important because there might be situations where you don't want your writing recorded. For example, if you want to add several pages of writing to a new document, you might turn off track changes because you don't plan on editing soon. You might also turn off track changes if you want to fix simple punctuation errors or typos in a friend's essay. This way, all the comments you make after you turn track changes back on will look more organized and easy-to-read.

Turning off track changes entirely, or turning off certain types of visualized edits, can help you process feedback according to your needs and provide more helpful feedback to your peers.

What if track changes isn't available?

If a document is protected, you might not have the option to turn off track changes or turn it on so you can make some edits. If this happens, you might be able to get the option back by turning off document protection. To turn off document protection, go to the "Review" tab, go to "Restrict Editing," and select the "Stop Protection" option. You might need to ask the peer who sent you the document for a password if Word asks you for one.

How do I remove hidden data?

Sometimes, tracked changes will still remain in documents as hidden data, even after you accept or reject them. To remove this data, start by clicking on the "File" tab and going to the "Info" section. From here, you can click on the "Check for Issues" button and select "Inspect Document" from the drop-down menu. Clicking this brings up the Word Document Inspection Window.
From this window, click on "Inspect" to identify all the hidden data in your document. From the list of hidden data categories, you can select the "Comments, Revisions, Versions and Annotations" section. This category contains all the tracked changes made since you first made your document. To confirm your choice, select any other hidden data categories you want to remove, click "Remove All," and save your document.

Related: 6 Microsoft Office Skills To Include on a CV (With Tips)

Tips for using track changes

Here are some tips you can consider while navigating Microsoft Word's track changes feature:

  • You can review changes from specific people. Using the "Show Markup" function in the "Tracking" section of the "Review" tab, you can select the names of specific people who made edits. Now, when you accept or reject changes, Word will only review the changes made by the people you selected.

  • You can make it easier to turn off track changes. If you want to turn off track changes faster, you can use the "Ctrl + Shift + E" shortcut on your keyboard. You can also right-click the status bar at the bottom of the window and add an indicator that shows you whether track changes is on or off.

  • You can make track changes easier to read. You can enable the "Simple Markup" function from the "Track Changes" section of the "Review" tab. With simple markup enabled, all edits appear as red vertical lines, which you can click on to reveal individual changes.

Please note that none of the companies or products mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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