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Remove sensitivity labels from Office files

If your organisation utilises Microsoft Azure or Purview to apply “security labels” to your Office documents, you may be compelled to have unsightly headers and footers in your documents. There is a way around this, but it’s clunky.

My workplace imposes Microsoft Azure “sensitivity labels” upon every document that we create, but this is not always appropriate. For instance, I cannot credibly produce a poster or brochure which has “OFFICIAL” stamped on the top and bottom – it ruins the entire presentation. This crude formatting also tends to interfere with templates that I use to create my documents.

Typically, Microsoft Azure will insert a panel below the ribbon within Office applications to enable documents to be classified:

Screen shot of Microsoft Word
Microsoft Office, showing the Microsoft Azure Information Protection panel (highlighted in red).

It is possible to close this panel, but when you try to save the document to any location, you will be forced to apply a label anyway. Even choosing “not now” cannot postpone the inevitable.

Screen shot from Microsoft Word showing the Azure panel.
The Microsoft Azure Information Protection pop-up.

Thankfully, there is a way around this problem.

In Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook, go to File > Options > Add-Ins. Under “Manage”, choose “COM Add-ins” (if not already selected) and press “Go…”

The Microsoft Word Options dialogue box.

Untick “Microsoft Azure Information Protection” and click “OK”.

The COM Add-ins dialogue box in Microsoft Word showing all of the available COM add-ins.

This will temporarily disable the add-in and enable documents to be saved without unsightly headers or footers being appended to the top and bottom of the document. Documents can also safely be saved to other formats (such as PDF) without labels being surreptitiously inserted.

You will need to repeat this step each time you open your Office apps.

What if I inherit a document with these labels?

There is also a couple of ways to scrub the headings from documents that have already had them applied:

This Microsoft Word document has “OFFICIAL” inserted into the header.


The purpose here is to remove the graphical element from the document, not to remove the document’s metadata. The steps above will achieve this.

I do not advocate working around your organisation’s document management policies or IT settings.



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