#235 Remove Hidden Data and Personal Information From Documents

June 02, 2014

Documents often contain hidden data and personal information that could be harmful to the author if distributed.  Data like this is commonly referred to as “metadata”.

    • NOTE: Metadata is data that describes other data.  For example, words used in a document is considered data, while the word count of that document is metadata.  Metadata can include the author’s first and last name, the name of editors/co-authors, comments, number of versions, and more.

Microsoft has included a feature in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint called Document Inspector to locate and remove metadata.  Here is a list of all types of data that Document Inspector can find and remove. 


Here are instructions on how to remove metadata from documents, spreadsheets, and presentations using Microsoft’s Document Inspector:

  1. Open the document, spreadsheet, or presentation you wish to purge.
  2. Click on the File tab in the top left corner.
  3. Click on the Save As tab in the left sidebar.
  4. Enter a new file name and select a folder to save it in, then click Save.
    • NOTE: This step is a precaution to protect the original document because some data that will be deleted may not be recoverable.
  5. Click on the Info tab along the left sidebar.
  6. Under Prepare for Sharing, click on the box labeled “Check for Issues”
  7. A drop-down menu should appear, select Inspect Document.
  8. A new window will appear, make sure the boxes are checked for each type of data you wish to remove from the file and click Inspect.
  9. Under each field with a checkbox, the data found will be listed. Click the button labeled Remove All next to the data you wish to delete.
  10. After deleting the data you do not wish to keep in the document, click the Close button in the bottom right corner.


For more information on removing metadata with Microsoft Office programs, please see the following guides:


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