Did you know that Windows adds a ton of personal information to many files you create or edit? It attaches this data to a wide variety of file types, including Word documents, JPEG images, and MP3 files.
What does this data consist of?
Everyone you send your files to can see not only your full name and the PC you used but also how long you worked on the files. More than 35 pieces of personal information may be added to the actual file—depending on the file type (for example, a Word 2007 document). This data can include the author’s full name, company and manager, as well as the content created, the date last saved and the revision number—plus much more! If you like to see which data is stored within a file, please check the file in question using the “Properties” dialogue (see below).
How can I get rid of this information?
Windows Vista and 7 both provide a relatively easy—and well-hidden—feature to remove personal information. However, depending on the file you use, you might not be able to get rid of all meta data–that might be the case, if it has been created or edited by a 3rd party program (as our reader Michael mentioned in the comments). In many cases, especially if you used Microsoft products to create the file, you’ll be able to strip the meta information easily. In the case of photos, such as JPGs created by 3rd party programs, you might like to use a program called Exif Tag Remover.
The following steps help you get rid of all or at least part of this information using the Windows 7 method:
- Right-click on the file you want to remove the additional information from. Then, select “Properties”.
- Go to the “Details” tab, and click on the tiny blue-colored link called “Remove Properties and Personal Information”. Now, if you want to keep all of this information in the file on your hard disk but send a “clean” copy out, hit “OK”. You will then find a copy in the same folder.
- However, if you want to remove specific (or all of the) information from this file, select “Remove the following properties from this file”.
To manually remove certain entries, check the relating boxes, for example:
To remove the information embedded into the file, click on “Select All”. Once you hit “OK”, you will end up with a clean file. If that didn’t do the trick, you need to dig deeper into the program you created the file with: Go through the list of options that are related to opening and saving files. Check to see if your program has options that might prevent it from adding metadata to the files.
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