Bugging Microsoft Files: Part 3 – Clearing Metadata

In my last two posts I showed how to insert tracking bugs in both .docx (Part 1) and .xlsx files (Part 2).  But don’t let all that effort go to waste by leaving metadata in that could lead back to you.

When you save a file in Microsoft Office some metadata about you is stored, such as the author name. Choose the File->Info menu and you can see what value is set as the author. If it is something generic or purposely misleading you may wish to leave it as-is.

The instructions below were made with Microsoft Office 2013 for Windows.

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Author Metadata

However, if you want to clear the data this is how.

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Check for Issues

  1. From the File->Info menu, click Check for Issues
  2. Choose Inspect Document.

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Document Inspector

  1. Choose Inspect in the dialog window that appears.

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Document Inspector Author

  1. Choose Remove All next to Document Properties and Personal Information.

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Document Inspector Headers

Scrolling down, you may see other items with Remove All buttons next to them. Use your discretion on which ones to remove but keep in mind where you stored your tracking bug. In this case, I put it in the document header so it makes sense that the Document Inspector is showing that there is a header. I will choose to leave this there since I know all it contains is the tracking bug.

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Document Inspector Hidden Sheets

This is an example from an Excel spreadsheet where the tracking bug is in a hidden sheet. This is another place where you would not remove it.

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Once you exit the Document Inspector, verify that the author metadata was removed.