"Unknown Author"

I am trying to edit my document. Halfway through this process, and with no action on my part, every keystroke suddenly begins to produce a box which says: “Unknown Author” and thereafter, every single keystroke has to be validated by right clicking the keystroke, waiting for the menu, and clicking on “Accept Changes”. I am trying to get my work done and this is making me bonkers!!!

Why can’t I edit my own document? I can the first half, and then suddenly this happens, and I haven’t changed anything!

It seems you accidentally activated the tracking of changes. Check if that’s the case in Edit → Track Changes.

Okay, found it, and in fact the check box is under File/Properties, and one of the tabs. It was checked, but I never checked it. It checked itself halfway through editing, When I opened the file to find the box, the file was locked, but again I never locked it! This new version (I just updated) is making decisions by itself!


The origin of the “Unknown Author” problem is the lack of a “User Name” which is associated with your document. Go to "settings/LibreOffice/User. Then, enter your name under first/last/nickname … presto, you are no longer an Unknown Author!

Next, you will need to “fix” the “changes” which are still associated with “Unknown Author”. To do this, you can cut the out the “changes” which have not yet been confirmed. Then, paste them back in, and the text is now associated with your Username. In order to preserve the Track Change assignments, you will have to selectively paste and accept each cocerned set of words.

I can’t find “settings”. I looked at the document properties and under Tools/Options, but I can’t find anything that references “User Name”. Where is this “User Name” field?

Presently the Author shows up with my name and I’d like to change that to the company.

A clarification - I found User Data, but there’s no data entered. If this is blank, where does it read the Author name?

My info…
Version: (x64) / LibreOffice Community
Build ID: 382eef1f22670f7f4118c8c2dd222ec7ad009daf
CPU threads: 16; OS: Windows 10.0 Build 19044; UI render: Skia/Raster; VCL: win
Locale: en-US (en_US); UI: en-US
Calc: CL

I think I cracked the nut. To get changes of User Data to show up in the printed PDF file, the document properties have to be “reset”. The Author name shows up next to the time and date. So you don’t have to print the PDF to check.

Resetting the properties changes the date and time of creation, so it looks like a new document.

I still don’t know where it was reading my name to use as Author. The User Data was completely blank to start with.

It was probably read from metadata in the document. As you had no valid User Data, there was nothing to override the “previous” author. ODF says that existing metadata shouldn’t be changed when you can’t replace it.

I don’t understand what you mean, “existing metadata shouldn’t be changed when you can’t replace it.”

Where does this metadata get entered? Where does it live?

Metadata includes creation date, saves, user name (if entered), number of pages and words, etc so it collects the information from user data within the LibreOffice and the document itself.

Open an .odt file with a zip programme and see, the contents are readable.

Note that even txt documents from NotePad get document name, creation and save dates associated with them by the OS. Maybe an analogy would be the envelope of a letter, the letter being the actual document while the envelope has information about the origin, date and destination of the letter, some of which can also be inside the letter

Thank you for the info, but that’s not really what I was trying to ask. How was this information entered in the first place??? How can it be changed?

What does it mean “within LibreOffice itself”???

TXT documents don’t have my name on them or in them. In this case, analogies do not help.

One last, unrelated question… I tried looking this up using Google, but there’s too many unrelated hits. How do I format replies here? Specifically, if I try to add a blank line in a reply, it doesn’t show up, even though it shows on the right preview pane now.

Metadata is implicitly and automatically managed by LO. It is entered from various sources (file system attributes, user profile data, Tools>Options settings, …). It is always regenerated at save time. It gives information on the editing history of the file and is used, among other things, to tag “track changes”.

Editing a comment (or answer, but rules are relaxed in answer) is done by an over-simplified “user-friendly” (I’m ironical here) Markdown editor. It has several limitations but if you realise that the goal is to generate HTML you can easily work around them.

To add blank space (line) between paragraphs, just start your paragraph with <br>. Add more for larger space.

Wow! I didn’t realize I needed to write code to use the editor, but ok.

So, specifically, where did LO get my name, if it was not entered in the User Data? It certainly would not have been from the file system attributes. I’m not sure what you mean by the “user profile data” unless that is the same as the User Data under Tools>Options…

You may have created your document from an existing one which already contained an author name. In the absence of User Data, this initial author name is passed on.
Another possibility is you based your document on some template which was created at some time or on some computer which had valid User Data and it has been kept.
But without knowing the history of your file I can’t tell for sure.

If you want to create “anonymous” documents, you must very carefully examine your computer. Present day computers tend to log a lot of information and it is difficult to prevent sensitive data leakage. If you have a sharp interest in it, drop Window$ and create your own Linux configuration (but the learning curve is really steep until you understand where the information is created, where it is stored and how it is controlled).

Actually, it will never get overwritten (even in case of present user data), unless you reset it manually (in File|Properties), or use the original document as a template (proper template, not “copy the file”; in that case, the author should change, that’s a property of use of templates).

Note that there’s a configuration to not apply user data, if that helps.

You may have created your document from an existing one which already contained an author name. In the absence of User Data, this initial author name is passed on.

That’s the turtle theory. “It’s turtles all the way down!” So how did my name get into the previous document if it wasn’t in the User Data?

I’m not following about “Present day computers”… How would data from the rest of my computer get into this document?

BTW, I checked, and meta.xml has no mention of my name. I see a data field called “initial-creator” which is now the company name. I can only assume this originally had my name, but I can’t understand how it would have been entered there.

This feels like a privacy issue. If LO can pick up personal information from my computer and hide it in documents without my knowledge, that’s a problem!

The only way I could get the Author to change in the PDF file, was to reset properties. So now the “initial-creator” is the company, rather than myself.

The User Data was empty until I just filled it in to try to get the proper Author listed.

It could only get into the document if and only if it was in the user data (in some installation). In old days of OOo and LO 3.3 (and AOO), you couldn’t start the program until you filled a “first start wizard”, where you filled some user data. You could had used LibreOffice in some corporate environment, where the user data is set up centrally (through centrally managed configuration, e.g. ActiveDirectory on Windows networks).

PDF? Sorry, I must had overlooked the mention of PDFs here, need to check previous posts to find one.

By the way: where exactly is this shown? In which dialog? Is this a LibreOffice dialog at all?