How to Find Metadata in Word Documents

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How to Find Metadata in Word Documents
Your Word files may contain hidden metadata about you and your business. (binary numbers image by Photosani from Fotolia.com)

Metadata refers to information about a file rather than the information in the file. Examples of metadata include the name of the file author, the company or person who owns the copy of Word used to create the file, the date the file was last modified or printed and so on. Many types of metadata are stored along with each Word file. Users can view the metadata associated with a file using the Document Inspector option in Word 2007 and later versions. For Word 2003 and earlier versions, users must use three separate methods to view all the available metadata.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

    In Word 2007 and Later Versions

  1. 1

    Open the Word file that you want to inspect. If the file is important to you, run the Document Inspector on a copy of the original file. According to the Microsoft Office Support website, if you remove metadata from a file using Document Inspector, you may not be able to put it back.

  2. 2

    Click on the "Microsoft Office" button. This is the button in the upper left corner of the Word screen. It has a picture of the Office logo on it--four interlocking squares with different colours. If you are using Word 2010, click on the "File" tab instead. This is also located in the upper left corner of the screen, and it replaces the Microsoft Office button.

  3. 3

    Under the File tab, find the "Info" option and click it. Once the "Info" options appear, choose the option for "Check for Issues." This is located under "Prepare for Sharing."

  4. 4

    Click the option for "Inspect Document." A dialogue box will appear where you can select the type of metadata you want to view. When you have done so, click the "Inspect" button to complete the command.

    In Word 2003 and Earlier Versions

  1. 1

    Open the Word file whose metadata you want to view.

  2. 2

    Click on the "Tools" pull-down menu on the menu bar and then select "Options." If you do not see the "Options" choice, look down to the very bottom of the current menu column. Find the double downward-pointing arrow and click it to reveal more choices.

  3. 3

    Click the option for "User Information." This will allow you to view metadata concerning the document author's name, initials and mailing address. Some of these fields might be blank if the owner of that copy of Word did not enter the information when Word was installed.

  4. 4

    When you are done viewing the metadata, click "OK" or "Cancel" to exit the display.

  5. 5

    Now click on the "File" pull-down menu in the menu bar and choose "Properties." If you do not see the "Properties" option, look down to the very bottom of the current menu column. Find the double downward-pointing arrow and click it to reveal more choices. After you've clicked the "Properties" option, various metadata will appear, if available, on the tabs for Summary, Statistics, Contents and Custom. Click "OK" or "Cancel" when you are ready to exit the display.

  6. 6

    Click the "View" pull-down menu in the menu bar and choose "Markup." If you don't see the "Markup" option, look down to the very bottom of the current menu column. Find the double downward-pointing arrow and click it to reveal more choices. After you've clicked "Markup," any hidden comments or revision marks in the document should appear.

  7. 7

    You can also reveal comments by choosing "Insert Comment" from the "Insert" pull-down menu. Inserting a comment simultaneously turns on the comment display. You can also view revision marks by turning on "Track Changes" from the "Tools" pull-down menu. It is possible that the original user never inserted comments or tracked changes, in which case there will be nothing to display.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also view some file metadata in Windows Explorer. Find the file in question using Windows Explorer and right-click it. In the right-click menu, choose "Properties." Metadata, if available, will appear in the tabs for Custom and Summary. On the Summary tab, click the button for "Advanced" down toward the bottom of the box to view the largest available set of metadata.
  • In all the methods described here, you can change the metadata as well as view it. In some cases, you might not be able to delete the metadata outright, but you can replace it with anonymous gibberish.
  • If you change or remove metadata from a file, especially by using the Document Inspector, you might not be able to put it back. If the file is important to you, view metadata using a copy of the original file.

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