Microsoft Office is one of the very popular productivity suites available today. One lesser known feature of its documents is that whenever you create, open or save a document in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, the document stores additional information, known as Metadata, without your information. This information is meant to be used for a various reasons – like enhancing editing, viewing, filing and retrieval of Office documents.
Office Documents Metadata Management
Here is a list 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
- Document revisions
- Document versions
- The names of previous document authors
- Template information
- Hidden text or cells
- Personalized views
- Other file properties and summary information
- Non-visible portions of embedded OLE objects
Most of this metadata is readily accessible, and all you need to do is open the Office program. But there is other metadata that is only accessible when you take special steps like opening a document in a low-level, binary file editor.
While such Office metadata has its uses, to increase the level of security in your computing environment, protect the identity in legal documents or for other reasons, you may not want to save such metadata, or if it is saved, you may want to remove it.
To manually remove such metadata, you would have to do so, by going to the Tools > Menu and Security or User Information options. Or you may have to go to File > Properties and open the Summary, Statistics, Contents and Custom tabs But this is too tedious.
Microsoft Office Document Inspector
Office 2010 and later programs include a Document Inspector that allows users to easily see the metadata for the documents and remove them. This has made things easier. The Document Inspector gives you an easy way to examine documents for personal or sensitive information, text phrases, or other document contents. To open the Document Inspector, click the BackstageButton tab > Info > Check for Issues > Inspect Document.
Document Metadata Cleaner is a freeware that analyze Word, Excel and PowerPoint Documents and remove hidden and sensitive Word, Excel and PowerPoint Documents metadata information, easily and quickly! It lets you clean one or multiple documents at a time.
You can download Metadata Cleaner here.
There is another tool called the Metadata Extraction Tool that can automatically extractpreservation-related metadata from supported files and output that metadata in a standard format (XML) for use in preservation activities. But it does not delete the metadata.