Today, sharing Office, video, music and other files over the Internet is the order of the day. Sometimes those files that we send contain our private information, more or less confidential depending on the case. This information is stored in the metadata of those photos, videos or texts that we share on social networks, in messaging applications and by email. In this tutorial we are going to learn how to remove the metadata from a file and send it safely while maintaining our privacy.
The first thing we are going to do is explain what the metadata of a file is and what it is for. Then we will see how we can visualize them and what information of ours they may be spreading. In the following, we will show you various ways to remove metadata on Windows and Android.
What is file metadata
The metadata could be defined as the data that is used to describe other data. These data that we are describing are those generated by our computer or smartphone through the use of different programs or applications. This file metadata is generated automatically without us having to do anything and provides a description of that file.
Thus, a group of metadata in this case refers to a group of data that describes the informational content of a file that is called a resource . A curious fact is that the concept of metadata predates the Internet. They were used before in libraries in traditional card catalogs in relation to books to describe title, author and more. This is more important than it seems when we have several files or resources stored together. Thanks to the metadata of a file in which a description of it is made, it will allow us to search to find it using its distinctive characteristics.
Another important concept is the metadata container format, which is a model for organizing the data related to that file. In this sense, the most common and most used have to do with multimedia files, be they photos, audio or video. For example, within the field of photographs we would have the Exif format to include technical data such as shutter, use of flash, aperture, date, etc.
View metadata in Windows and why it can be dangerous
As we mentioned before, the metadata of a file is created automatically, therefore, if we do not review it, we will not be aware of what it contains. For example, if we use the camera of our smartphone and we grant it the location permission, you can use the GPS to add the location in the metadata. This fact in itself is not bad, on trips or for specific jobs it can be very useful. The problem comes, for example, if you publish it on social networks without deleting the metadata of a file related to your location. In this case, they could obtain information on where your home, work, etc. is. and constitutes a certain risk to your privacy and security.
However, location is not the only thing you can get from us. For example, in the metadata of an Office file we can find the author that may be based on our Windows user or it also depends on how we have configured it. If we want to see the metadata, the simplest thing is to use the file explorer, although the same can also be done with the files we have on the desktop.
The first thing we have to do is click on the file that we want to use and with the right button click on Properties .
Then we have to go to the Details tab to see the metadata of a file:
Here, and depending on the way we have our equipment configured, you can see our name, when the file was created and also the moment it was saved. However, if we continue further down, we can obtain more information:
Without having to open the file, we already know the number of pages, words, paragraphs and more. Also, another detail that it has is that in ” Equipment ” the name of the equipment that I have assigned to my PC in my home network appears. This would be an example with a photograph, in which in addition to technical data related to the camera, we have those provided by GPS:
In this sense, as we discussed earlier, this data is dangerous for privacy because it tells us where the photograph was taken.
Delete file metadata in Windows
The way to eliminate them is very simple, and we start from where the metadata of that file is:
If we want to eliminate the metadata of a file we have to click on « Remove properties and personal information «. Then we will see that it will offer us two possibilities, we will select « Remove the following properties from this file « :
Here we have two possibilities to remove the metadata. One would be by clicking the boxes of the sections that we want to delete and clicking OK . The other would be by pressing the Select all button to eliminate the metadata of a file leaving it empty, also to execute it we have to press OK .
This would be the example of the same file, after having deleted all the metadata:
One thing to note is that it only clears a file’s metadata related to personal data, such as the Authors field . Others such as when it was created or saved will remain as they were, since in no case will they affect our privacy.
Remove metadata from photos on Android
Sometimes we will not have a PC or laptop with Windows. However, do not worry, through apps we will be able to remove the metadata of a photo easily and quickly. In this case we are going to use the « Photo exif editor » application from the developer Banana Studio that you can download from here:
Photo exif editor
Developer: Banana Studio
Once the app is installed, the first thing it will ask us for is permission to access the photos and multimedia content. We are going to select Allow .
Now it is the turn to choose the file with which we want to work, for which we will choose the option “Photos” and then we select the file with which we want to work.
Then we will see the file with its metadata, if we press on a section in a sustained way we can make changes:
Once we finish deleting the metadata of a file, click on the icon in the red box.
On the left you have an EXIF icon in a yellow box to eliminate all the technical data related to the camera in one step.
As you have seen, deleting the metadata of a file or photographs is very simple using the operating system itself, in the case of not having the option as in Android devices, then we will have to use third-party apps to be able to do this. Metadata is very important and we should not send files over the Internet to different people with metadata, because it could leak private information that should not be owned by anyone but us.