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scrub metadata wordDid you know that Word documents can hold information that is not visible from within the document?  It is true.  Microsoft tags hidden data to your documents that can give information such as revision logs, identifying information (author, etc.), comments, keywords, hyperlinks, saved dates, edit dates, and much more.  This is called metadata.

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.”

scrub metadata word

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.

scrub metadata word

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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 Useful Free Open Office Templates To Make You More Productive Useful Free Open Office Templates To Make You More Productive Read More 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 How To Remove MetaData From Photos (Windows) How To Remove MetaData From Photos (Windows) Read More .

Do you scrub the metadata from your Word documents?  If so, what program(s) do you use?

  1. Judith Releford
    July 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    The Scrub product from Bighand will remove metadata from Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. There is also an add-in for Outlook to alert you to process files as they are being transmitted via e-mail.

  2. Steve Kohn
    January 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I've just noticed this, as the mouse hovered over a document and the metadata appeared.

    What surprised me, though, was that the author was "supervisor" and the title was "Jacob A."

    Surprised because the document is a .docx file that I created from scratch on my home computer that only I use.

    All the other files in that folder have similar metadata. In none of the half dozen files I checked was either author or title correct.

    How does that happen?

  3. Miss Smith
    May 24, 2010 at 10:18 am

    The latest version of office (2010) allows you to do this kind of thing

    • timmyjohnboy
      May 25, 2010 at 3:02 am

      Thanks for the tip, but as I stated earlier, many people use other versions of Word and even other word processors such as OpenOffice which this program can help with.

  4. wahid
    May 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I still use ms.office, because of the compatibility. I'll try this tool soon.

  5. Peter
    May 19, 2010 at 2:44 am

    All the newer versions of Word will do this for you, no need for a separate tool.
    Unless you're using Word 97 there is no need for this.

  6. Peter
    May 19, 2010 at 12:44 am

    All the newer versions of Word will do this for you, no need for a separate tool.
    Unless you're using Word 97 there is no need for this.

    • timmyjohnboy
      May 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm

      I personally use OpenOffice which attaches metadata also. I typically save in older Word formats so this program still works fine for me.

  7. Alex
    May 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    This isn't able to analyze .docx files. And that seems to be what all my docs are... So it's quite useless.

    • timmyjohnboy
      May 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Many people still use older versions of MS Word and Office...

    • Nonjef
      May 21, 2010 at 11:13 pm

      BatchPurifier can clean docx files, it ain't free though.

      • timmyjohnboy
        May 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

        Thanks for the tip.

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