A Quick Introduction to PDF Metadata, its Benefits, and Extraction
Jan 30, 2023
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Metadata refers to data about a piece of data. It is not a part of the main content of a document or a webpage that you might be consuming. Instead, it is the information about a document or webpage. This information is generally hidden in the code of the type of file you are looking at and might even be possible to consume through the options section of the file.
What is PDF metadata?
For a PDF file, the metadata can contain a number of fields. If you are in the detailed view on Microsoft Windows, the fields that you are looking at are all metadata of a file. Other fields of metadata can include the date and time of the last modification of the file, the date and time the file was created, the author of the file, the software used for the creation of the file, etc.
Why is PDF metadata extraction important?
Metadata is an important part of any file, especially PDFs. Let us look at just some of the reasons why metadata is so important.
1. Metadata provides integral information
The metadata of a PDF file contains integral information about the file. With PDF becoming the document format of choice across the world, having updated PDF metadata can be extremely important, especially in professional settings. A customer or client that you are sending your file to might be interested in knowing who created the file and whether it was created or modified before or after the cutoff date. All this information is present as a part of the metadata of the file. Additional information such as comments and directions for usage can also be added as a part of the PDF metadata for the aid of the file consumer.
2. Searching for files
Professional documents are not the only type of files that are regularly consumed as a PDF. Everything, from academic notes to government notifications and ebooks, is now present as PDFs. Any normal domestic user can have hundreds of PDFs on a personal computer. If such a user now goes out to look for a particular file, it can be hours, even days before the file is found if it hasn’t been named properly. If the file has PDF metadata, you do not need the name of the file to search for it. You can easily search for it if you know the author, when it was created or downloaded, and any specific keywords that you might have added to the PDF metadata.
3. Content management
If you have scores of related PDF files, you might often need to search for a particular type of file. An example of this is if you mostly consume ebooks in the form of PDFs and have hundreds of ebooks stored on your personal laptop. If you need to look for books by a particular author and do not remember the exact names of all these books, you will have great difficulty in sorting. On the other hand, if the ebooks have PDF metadata, including the name of the author, you can use any simple library management software and filter your ebooks by author name.
4. Searching on the internet
If you publish a document for public consumption, you likely want it to be searchable by the greatest number of people. However, if a document has no PDF metadata, users who do not know the exact name of the file will have considerable difficulty, searching for it, whether on a local cloud or on Google. PDF files with metadata increase the number of keywords using which a file can be searched.
How do you view Metadata?
Some PDF viewers might also display the metadata on a panel while you are viewing the PDF. The most popular PDF viewer is Adobe Acrobat. In Adobe Acrobat, you can view metadata by going to the file option on a PDF document and clicking on Document Properties.
If the file is editable, you will also be able to add additional PDF metadata to the files across a number of different fields.
Extracting metadata from PDF is clearly very important and can help authors as well as consumers in a number of ways. PDF metadata is nearly as important as the content of the PDF itself, and with PDFs becoming the document format of choice in multiple domains, its importance will only be increasing in the future.