Every file and folder on your computer possesses digital DNA – file format, creation date, author, modification date, descriptive tags, etc. These inner attributes follow a file and folder. It doesn’t matter where it moves on your system, or whether it’s copied and forwarded elsewhere — those attributes are coming along with it.
The attributes are stored in each file or folder’s Property Manager; that can be accessed by right-clicking on the file name or its icon. Most of time we have no need to examine a file or folder’s properties. But when viewing or editing attributes are required –be it for security or personal reasons– that’s when we need to be our own property manager.
Metadata: Exploring the Inner Workings of Files
If Groucho Marx was to jokingly refer to metadata he would probably exclaim “I never metadata I didn’t like,” or something like that. But seriously, metadata is usually defined as the data that provides information about other data. In other words metadata is the instruction manual that tells a computer what’s up with a particular file.
When security cops are called in to examine, say, a politician’s deleted emails, they can actually glean the origins of the message, when it was transmitted, and its contents from the file’s metadata. Similarly we can often see and manipulate the files and folders on our computers by examining their Properties. And like those deleted emails, your files’ metadata (live or deleted) can sometimes expose your privacy. And for many of those files—photos, text, videos, audio tracks–you can edit that metadata of personal elements.