Using office admin templates with encrypted documents

Office 2007 supports much more comprehensive encryption so is worth using and is going to become yet more useful (New Improved Office Crypto).  However we found that when encryption was enabled, the document properties were no longer visible. 

No big deal, right?  Well it makes indexing services much less useful.  When a document is encrypted the indexing service cannot index the document contents (and never could with encrypted Office 2003 documents) but at least the summary and custom properties used to be available even in encrypted document.  But, by default, summary and custom properties are also encrypted in Office 2007.

However you can use an Office admin template to set a policy that enables the Office products to expose their summary and custom properties even when an Office 2007 document is encrypted.  There doesn’t seem to be much information about this template setting so what little there is is worth recording it here.  David LeBlanc pointed me to this page: KB946621 and the OpenXMLEncryptProperty setting.

Although the table on this page states: “The following table contains the Group Policy settings that do not to work as expected in the 2007 Microsoft Office system” apparently this is sloppy editing and should say something like “templates that used to not work but are now fixed” because as the developer who implemented this feature confirmed, they do work now.

You can download the admin templates from here: Office 2007 admin template or Google for them (make sure you get the Office 2007 template not the Office 2003 templates).  Once you’ve downloaded them install them into Active Directory using the MMC policy editor snap-in and enable the OpenXMLEncryptProperty.  Obviously you will need to be an administrator for the domain into which you install the admin templates.

When this setting has propagated to user PCs properties will be available even in encrypted documents.

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