Why should we care about the metadata in our Word documents? Well, there have been news stories about metadata getting people into precarious situations, such as letters supposedly being written by one person but the metadata saying something different. However, even if you are not doing anything wrong, you may want to just be careful with your private information. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The process you can use to scrub that personal metadata from Word documents is quite simple. It involves downloading and installing a free program called “Doc Scrubber.”
Just download, install and open Doc Scrubber just like you would any other Windows program. Once you have it open, I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to run.
As you can see you can also analyze the document’s metadata to see what can be seen. To do this, just select the “Analyze” button.
Then you will be prompted to browse for the document you want analyzed.
Let’s take a look and see what we can find out about one of my old documents I’ve had lying around.
Well, we know my initials (I hardly ever enter my name for program setups) and apparently I work for Toshiba! Actually, I never changed that when I bought my laptop a few years back. You can also see some other interesting things like when the document was created and last saved, edited and printed.
The interesting thing is that I now use Open Office as my Office suite of choice and my documents still end up with some metadata attached. All the more reason to hit the “Main Menu” button and start some scrubbing.
When you hit the “scrub” button, you are given a few options.
You can save some real time by scrubbing more than one document at a time. In other words, if you have just learned about this metadata thing, you can catch up and scrub everything you need to in a relatively short amount of time.
Next you’ll be given some more specific options as to what you want scrubbed.
Basically you can choose what information you find sensitive. You can even reset the revision count and the author/company. When you hit “next,” the magic begins.
Once the scrubbing is done, run an analysis of the scrubbed document(s) just to see what can still be seen.
As you can see, the document now reads that John Doe who works for Any Company Inc. created the document and the other settings were either reset or cleared, according to what I selected during the scrubbing process.
Like I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be up to no good (like those showing up in the news) to make use of a tool like Doc Scrubber. As you can see, the process of scrubbing that sensitive data is a simple one. Check out Karl’s article about scrubbing metadata from photos.
Do you scrub the metadata from your Word documents? If so, what program(s) do you use?