This article covers the definition of metadata and how to view, manage and delete it in Microsoft applications.
Metadata is information about your data. It contains facts that can’t be disputed, the same way data does.
Here is an example from Microsoft Word. Let’s say you’re writing a letter to a co-worker. The letter consists of characters that form words and sentences. To the computer, this is translated as a series of ones and zeroes that make up the data associated with your letter. Other information about the letter includes when it was typed, who wrote it, when it was saved, and what version of Word you used. These facts are metadata.
You can view the metadata associated with your Excel, Word and PowerPoint files. (Metadata for Outlook email is more complicated and isn’t covered here.)
NOTE: Look at the Template data. Keep in mind that a template with your name or company name can be used to trace the file back to you.
You don’t have to open the file to view the metadata. Here’s how to view it in Windows Explorer:
You can use Extensible Markup Language (XML) to view the metadata for all your presentations, documents and workbooks. XML is used to store metadata in computing, including Microsoft Office files.
Let’s use a Word document as an example of how to use XML to view metadata:
Here are the steps to follow to delete your information from these files in Excel, Word or PowerPoint:
First, repeat the steps under “How Can You View Office Metadata in the File?” When you inspect the document.xml, people.xml and core.xml files, there shouldn’t be any personal data. Change the extension from .zip to .docx, to open the file in Word.
This method strips metadata from several files at the same time.
This makes a copy of your file with the “Copy” appended to the filename. This copy will have no associated metadata.
What you do next with the document determines whether your metadata stays gone. Digital processing, such as emailing it, may add metadata. The best option is to print and mail the document to avoid add metadata that could be traced back to you.