How to Edit the Metadata of a PDF in Ubuntu

Written by michael belcher Google
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How to Edit the Metadata of a PDF in Ubuntu
PDF files are versatile files that can display text and pictures on a variety of computers and handheld devices. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Metadata is the information stored in a file that can list information like the author, the software used to make and edit a file, when the file was last opened and the date it was created. PDF files include extensive metadata about the file and the file creator. This data can be edited using the Linux command-line program PDFTK. This program is available for Ubuntu, a free, open-source operating system. Keep in mind that, when you are editing command lines, you never include quotation marks in any commands.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Open the Accessories menu from the Ubuntu panel and open the Terminal application. The PDFTK program can be installed from the default Ubuntu software repositories. Enter "sudo apt-get install pdftk" at the prompt, without quotation marks, and then press "Enter." Enter your root password at the next prompt and press enter again to install the program.

  2. 2

    Enter "pdftk file.pdf dump_data output info.txt" in the Terminal, but replace file.pdf with the location of the file you wish to edit. This command creates a text document named "info.txt" that contain a copy of the "file.pdf" metadata.

  3. 3

    Open the info.txt file in a text editor. The file will list key value pairs that include the document title, author, key subject and other values. Edit the value pairs that you need to edit. Save the changes to the file.

  4. 4

    Open the Terminal and enter "pdftk file.pdf update_info info.txt output filecopy.pdf", where "file.pdf" is the original PDF file and "info.txt" is the edited metadata file. This creates a new PDF file, "filecopy.pdf", which is a copy of the orignial "file.pdf", but it will include the metadata from info.txt.

Tips and warnings

  • Key values not included in the info.txt file will not be changed from the old metadata when a new PDF is created. To remove information from the metadata replace the key value field for that information with a dash (-) or other mark.

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