Remove Metadata from Word. Stay protected

What is metadata?

Metadata is usually defined as “data about data” or “information about information”. Metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted. Most people are unaware that Microsoft Word documents store metadata in all word documents. You must have noticed that when you select a word document, the preview panel (Common Task in Windows XP) shows some details about the document such as the "author". You must have also noticed that the author's name might not actually appear in the document, and yet it somehow shows the author's name and you can't even edit it. That's metadata. The following are some examples of metadata that may be stored in your documents:

• Your name
• Your initials
• Your company or organization name
• The name of your computer
• The name of the network server or hard disk where you saved the document
• Other file properties and summary information such as file size, date/time the file was created, modified and accessed and the location where the file is stored
• Non-visible portions of embedded OLE objects
• Document revisions
• Document versions
• Template information
• Hidden text
• Comments

As you can see, a substantial amount of information is associated in every word documant. Obviously, you don't want to reveal these information to others for various reasons.

How can I remove metadata?

There are various ways of removing metadata, preventing metadata from generating or just minimizing it.

Automatically Remove Personal Information When You Save

You can set your Microsoft Word to automatically remove personal information from a Word document when you save it. To turn this option on, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
2. On the Security tab, click to select the Remove personal information from file properties on save check box under Privacy options, and then click OK.

Microsoft word will now not save any personal information along with the document when you save it. But you probably have tons of other documents saved previously, that already has metadata stored along with it. So you will have to remove those data manually.

Manually Remove Your User Name from Your Documents

To view or change your user name, follow these steps:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the User Information tab.

The following edit boxes appear:

Mailing Address

2. If you do not want any of this information to appear in your documents, enter non-identifying strings or spaces in the appropriate edit boxes, and then click OK to accept the changes.

How to Manually Remove Personal Summary Information

1. Open the document or template.
2. On the File menu, click Properties.
3. On the Summary tab, click to clear the Author, Manager, Company, and any other edit boxes that you do not want to distribute.
4. On the Custom tab, delete any properties that contain information that you do not want to distribute.
5. Click OK.

On the File menu, click Save, and then click Close.

These steps will remove most of the sensitive information from your documents. Alternately, you can use the Metadata Removal Tool from Microsoft.

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