How to Find Out When a Document Or Web Page Was Created
Takeaway: Documents and web pages have ‘metadata’ that tracks things like creation/publication dates. So, use a few select techniques to peek at this metadata, and consult an eDiscovery professional for more specialized needs.
It’s often hard to figure out when a document or web page was first published.
Figuring out when a document or website was first published can get tricky. For example, some documents might not have ‘published/created’ dates specified in their contents, and their metadata (covered later in this post) ‘date’ entries might be corrupted or modified. Or you might find multiple dates linked to a document, so which of those should you choose? (Do you want to know when the file was created? Or will it help to know when it was last accessed instead? Or when it was last modified? And then there’s the umbrella term ‘document date,’ which could refer to any of the above.)
As a start, here are a few basic steps to find the ‘created’ or ‘published’ dates of documents and websites.
Try out these preliminary steps for now, and we’ll discuss more advanced options later.
1. How to find a Microsoft Word document’s creation date.
Use the following three-step process:
- Right-click on the document’s icon after navigating to the relevant folder.
- Choose the ‘properties’ option from the menu that pops up. Here you’ll see the creation, last modified, and last accessed dates. (Note that the creation date refers only to the document as a whole. The document’s actual content may have been created in another document and copy/pasted into this one.)
- Click on the ‘details’ tab for more in-depth information. For instance, you can see how many times a document has been revised, who revised it, and the exact time it was created.
2. How to find a PDF’s creation date.
You can follow the same steps as above when checking a PDF. Alternatively, if you have Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, you can open the PDF to find its creation date.
- Double-click the PDF after navigating to the relevant folder. The file will open in Adobe Acrobat/Reader. (Note: if you don’t have either Acrobat or Reader, follow the same steps used above for Microsoft Word documents.)
- Click on the ‘File’ option from the horizontal menu bar at the top of the document.
- Select ‘Properties’ from the drop-down menu, and you’ll see the document’s dates. You’ll see a ‘Description’ section with the file’s creation date, modified date, and the software on which the content was first created. (Often, the content would have been created as a Word file first and then converted into a PDF.) You’ll also get to see additional information like the file’s size, location, and version number.
3. How to find a Google Docs creation date.
- For Google Docs files, click on the File menu tab and navigate to the Details option near the bottom.
- For Google Docs folders, you can check creation dates by single-clicking the folder, choosing the view option, and selecting the details tab.
4. How to find a web page’s publication date.
Here are 3 ways to check when a web page was published:
- Use the source code. Go to the page you want to check, right-click it, and select the ‘View Page Source’ option from the pop-up menu. You’ll now see a window with the page’s source HTML code. The publication date will be buried somewhere in the middle of all that code, but there’s a shortcut to finding it. Press Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) to open a search bar and type in ‘publish’. This will highlight all the instances on the page where the word ‘publish’ appears, so you can skim through these till you find an entry with the publication date. (To check when the page was last modified, search for the word ‘modified’ instead.)
- Repurpose a Google search. Another hack is to run a Google search for your website but prefix it with the ‘inurl:’ operator. (So, if the site is www.attorney.com, you’d Google inurl:https://www.attorney.com.) Click enter to run the search, and Google will create a new URL for you. At the end of this (much longer) URL, add ‘&as_qdr=y25’ without leaving any space (and without the apostrophes). This tells Google to run the same search but only for pages indexed in the past 25 years. This extra specification is a trick that forces Google to list the date associated with each web page it pulls up. So, it’ll show you the same results as earlier but with an additional menu option (i.e., three vertical dots) next to each result. And if you click on this menu, you’ll see when the specified page was first indexed
- Use the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine tracks the history of popular websites, so you can enter your web page’s URL into the machine’s search bar to see when it first registered and crawled the page. You won’t get an exact date, but you’ll have a rough idea of when the web page was published.
If these shortcuts don’t work, consider contacting an eDiscovery professional to sift through file metadata.
All the methods we’ve discussed are ways of peeking at file metadata (i.e., the digital footprint tracking a file’s history). But for a more thorough timeline analysis, you’ll likely need an eDiscovery professional. They can help guide you through each eDiscovery stage, protect/analyze your metadata, cull files strategically, and comply with eDiscovery regulations and court rulings.
And for a wider set of document review tools, look for specialized eDiscovery software.
With an eDiscovery subscription service, you can:
- Search files for keywords/phrases using an advanced search engine
- Organize your files by tagging similar documents
- Protect your clients’ privacy by redacting sensitive information
- Coordinate with your review team using document notes, annotations, and comments
- Produce your files in various formats.
Importantly, find an eDiscovery service that is intuitive and easy to use.
eDiscovery becomes so much more manageable when you have easy-to-use software. That’s why we designed GoldFynch to simplify document reviews and productions for small and midsize law firms. It protects metadata, has a robust set of document-review tools, and is low maintenance. For instance:
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
- It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
- It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
- Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
Want to find out more about GoldFynch?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- A Complete Glossary of Essential eDiscovery Terms
- A Quick Primer on GoldFynch’s eDiscovery Software
- How to Download eDiscovery Data Remotely Using ‘eDiscovery Collect.’
- A Free PST Analyzer to Check If Your eDiscovery PSTs Are Intact
- Use This In-Browser PST Viewer to Explore Your eDiscovery Emails For Free
- The Secret to Choosing the Best Low-Cost eDiscovery Software for Your Small Law Firm
- How To Make Your eDiscovery Productions Less Hackable
- Is Social Media the Future of eDiscovery?