There are many ways to strip metadata from documents:
- Using the built-in features of word processing software: in Word,
Prepare > Inspect; in WordPerfect, File, Save Without Metadata…
- Removing hidden information or sanitizing a document in Acrobat (Tools > Protection)
- Third party products like Payne Consulting’s Metadata Assistant
But if you want to keep it simple – and who doesn’t – print to PDF.
In Word or WordPerfect, choose File > Print > and select your PDF printer:
Click OK and “print” your document to the desired location.
To be technical, there are six steps in this process: File > Print > Select PDF printer > Click OK> Browse to desired document location > Select Save.
But you’ll always get there if you remember: File > Print.
Why Does this Work?
Good Question! When you “print” to PDF the output of your document is flattened. Flattening is a special process that hides any content that is not visible when the flattening operation is executed. Flattening also consolidates all layers in a document. Therefore, it acts as a metadata scrubber. Furthermore, flattening cannot be undone. If you are an Acrobat user, see this explanation of the flattening process.
Flattened PDFs have another advantage: the process of “printing” to PDF reduces file size. Since lawyers often e-mail PDFs as attachments, the smaller the attachment the better.
What do I Need to Get Started?
All you need is a PDF printer. If you’re a Mac user you’re good to go. PDF support is built into Mac OS. Any Mac application that can print to paper can automatically print to PDF. Windows users need to install a PDF printer. First, check your Devices and Printers for an existing PDF printer:
If you don’t see one, no worries. There are many options. You don’t necessarily need Acrobat. Here is a short list of cheap/free alternatives:
Cute PDF – CutePDF Writer is free; the professional version is $49.95
Nitro PDF - Free trial available; $139.99 with multi license/business discounts offered
Nuance PDF Converter – $49.95 (Pro version is $99.99)
For more choices, see this post.
Once your PDF printer is installed, you’re off to the races. Just like a Mac user, you can now print to PDF from any application that supports printing to paper.
Happy printing to PDF!
All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis