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Automatically Prompting for Document Properties

One of the interesting innovations in Windows Vista is the placement of document meta-data—properties such as the document author, subject, and status, as well as one or more tags that describe the document—at the heart of the operating system. In Vista, you can use metadata to sort documents, organize documents in to groups, filter documents, and search for documents. This is great in theory, but in practice the utility of metadata depends entirely on how much of it there is. Some metadata is generated automatically by the program you use to create a document: the last modified date, the size of the file, and so on. However, most metadata is user-generated, so to get the most out of metadata, you need to remember to enter the data when you create new documents.

Older versions of Word had a setting that, when activated, configured Word to display the Properties dialog box each time you saved a new document for the first time. This was a great way to remember to enter metadata, but Word 2007 goes one better: It will also prompt you for metadata (by displaying the Document Information Panel) each time you open a document. Here's how to enable this setting in Word 2007:

  1. Choose Developer, Document Panel to open the Document Information Panel dialog box.
  2. Click to activate the Always Show Document Information panel On Document Open and Initial Save check box.
  3. Click OK.

If you want an easier way to toggle this setting on and off, use the simple macro shown in Listing 3.9.

Listing 3.9. A Macro That Toggles the Automatic Display of the Document Information Panel

Sub ToggleDocumentPanel()
    With Application
        .DisplayDocumentInformationPanel = Not .DisplayDocumentInformationPanel
    End With
End Sub
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