Metadata in Word
What is Metadata?
Metadata refers to the hidden information which is generated automatically and embedded in files created on a computer. Metadata becomes a very handy information source in many cases. Precedent systems, and systems which manage documents, use the information provided by metadata extensively. Information pertaining to the author of the document, persons who edited the document, history relevant to the distribution as well as usage of the document, and so on, proves essential in order to help users in finding specific documents in a repository of documents, or inside a precedent databank.
The issues that arise with metadata occur due to the fact that documents are shared publically via a variety of mediums; be it email, USB drives, CD-ROM, over networks etc. The information that is shared electronically includes the visible information as well as hidden information, which is typically the metadata. In the hands of wrong people, confidential information that is revealed by the metadata of documents can prove to be extremely damaging. Being aware of metadata is the first step, and the steps that follow subsequently are the reduction or elimination of metadata from the document files.
Type of Metadata in Word documents
After having understood what Metadata is from the discussion above, the next step is to understand what Metadata in Word refers to. Only after this is examined, can the subsequent stages relevant to word metadata changer can be appreciated. In a nutshell, metadata in a word document refers to the properties of the document. This is different from the properties of the program, where the application settings can be changed by a user. The type of metadata that is enlisted in a word document incorporates the name of a user or initials, name of the organization of the user, the type of file, version of the document, location of the file, document creation date, document modification date, time taken to edit the document, total page numbers in the file, and the document size.
The type of metadata in a word document is an important source of information that stays until it is changed by utilities like word metadata changers. This information is utilized by the computer as well as other softwares in the form of a reference guide while performing relevant operations. Microsoft Word is easily the most widely used software for producing word documents, and thus, the risks associated with the information stored by metadata in word documents are huge. As a safeguard, the following are a few of the tips which are usually enlisted to help minimize the metadata information that is contained in a word document:
- Controlling the information related to author
- Checking the security settings
- Minimizing the custom identifiers
- Look for any hidden text
- Being alert for document properties
- Being aware of the data and time of the document
- Watching out for the presence of any external links
- Preventing Microsoft Outlook from adding any extra information to word documents
How to change Metadata in Word
Before word documents are distributed and shared publically, Document Inspector works as a word metadata changer, and helps to erase the undesired information. For a word document, the word document inspector can be accessed by clicking on the ‘File’ Tab, and then clicking on the ‘Info’ option. After clicking on ‘Check for Issues’ option in the displayed details, ‘Inspect Document’ allows a user to scan the document for any traces of personal information or hidden properties. A dialog box enumerates the data types that can be found in the word document, and once the scanning is complete, a dialog box displays per module results.
If the scan does find some relevant data, a user is provided with an option known as ‘Remove All’ for the complete removal of data. In case no relevant data is found, a dialog box presents the relevant message. If the option to remove the entire data specific to a document is selected, then the final dialog box presents the user with a text that outlines the success of such an operation. In case the operation was unsuccessful, then a dialog box displays the relevant error messages, while at the same time, keeping the module data unchanged.
Word metadata changer
- Word metadata changer is an utility that enable a user to edit, update, and remove the metadata information from a word document. Many such tools, both freeware and shareware are available in the software market. A few examples of such tools are as follows:
Word Metadata Changer: URL - http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/File-Management/Word-Metadata-Changer.shtml
- Metadata Touch: URL - http://digitalconfidence.com/MetadataTouch.html
- Metadata Miner: URL - http://metadataminer.com/
- Metadata Cleaner: URL - http://www.thewindowsclub.com/office-metadata-cleaner-cleanup-tool
- Doc Scrubber: URL - https://www.brightfort.com/docscrubber.html
- AttributeMagic Pro: URL - http://www.elwinsoft.com/attributemagic-pro.html
- Filecats: URL - http://filecats.co.uk/
The Document Inspector or Word Inspector is an inbuilt utility In MS Word (apart from being available in MS Excel and MS Power Point). It provides the users with ways to analyse documents for the presence of any sensitive or personal data, as well as ways to look for specific phrases of text and any other contents present in the documents. Various modules are in build in the word inspector, which helps it to act as a word metadata changer, by inspecting as well as fixing element in any document. Some of the in-built modules in the word inspector for word documents are Hidden Text; Custom XML Data; Invisible Content; Comments, Revisions, Annotations and Versions; Watermarks, Footers and Headers; Personal Information and Document Properties (which specifically incorporates metadata).
By default, in Microsoft word documents, there is no facility for erasing concealed information in documents that are protected or signed, or deploy IRM (Information Rights Management). Thus, it is recommended that users should run their documents through the Document Inspector, before they are eventually signed, or before the IRM is invoked. From the point of view of developers, Word document inspector, can also be utilized for the extension of modules that are built in, and eventually integrating these extensions with the standard UI (User Interface).