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I was just wondering whether programs like MS Word, Adobe Photoshop and so on leave traces in files we create with them. By traces I mean things like:

  • who created the file (Username on the machine)
  • on which computer was it created (Machine name etc.)

and things like that. Are there sites out there which list this stuff?

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Word certainly saves a lot of information about the file. By right clicking on an older Word document (.doc) and selecting the Summary tab I can see the following:

  • Author
  • Last Saved By
  • Revision Number
  • Application Name
  • Company
  • Date Created
  • Date Last Saved
  • Edit Time

Interestingly an Excel file (.xlsx) and a newer Word doc (.docx) only have the following:

  • Source
  • Author
  • Revision Number

Of course this could be Windows-XP not knowing how to read the rest of the information out the file

So it all depends on the file format and whether it has fields for this sort of information, regardless of whether the program actually updates this information when creating or updating the file

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Especially for office, there are tools to remove the hidden data:

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Unfortunately, quite a few programs stick some data in there for branding or informational purposes. As far as I know, no real filetype is immune. Photoshop sticks monitor inforation and color profiles inside of PNG files when you save them, and Paint.NET sets the software text block in a PNG file to the version of Paint.NET you used. What's worse is it can be difficult to find out too.

When you check the summary tab for files, I believe any of the information below the file group is generated by Explorer on the fly, so the Owner is who's set as the owner via NTFS and the Computer is showing which comptuer the file is currently located on (for network shares).

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Photoshop, as far as I know, does NOT - it only saves EXIF data in the image formats.

Microsoft Office saves the full name, initials, and company used when you installed the program. It uses this for versioning and digital signatures.

It does not save any information about the username of the computer account, or the machine name.

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For Photoshop (CS4 that I tested at least), it depends on the file format you're using. I've confirmed that it'll save your currently loaded color profile to a data chunk in PNG files. While this shouldn't be a huge issue, I guess it could be for those ultra-paranoid. – Joshua Sep 20 '09 at 17:04 Photoshop sometimes seems to produce problem with not saving an up to date thumbnail.

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