Tagging in SharePoint Online

Copper Contributor



Is there a way to tag content, documents and pages in SharePoint Online? As I understand, the tagging and notes feature are retired by Microsoft, so we don't have built in option.


Any one implemented the tagging for documents, records and pages in any other way? 


Your suggestion is appreciated.



5 Replies

@Rizwan Ansari You can still use Enterprise Keywords option and that is the closest it can get, read more here, probably you have already


@Rizwan Ansari 


You're asking about metadata and there are LOTS of options, depending on what you're trying to do - all the way from enterprise level content management using enterprise keywords and content types all the way down to finding stuff on an individual library or site.


You'll need to understand the difference between enterprise managed metadata, site level metadata or library level metadata.


I use site level metadata tags applied to libraries and site pages all the time within individual sites as a way to make the site more searchable. It works particularly well with the highlighted content web part.


All tagging is 100% manual and cannot be mandated/required/forced on users. So using it requires rigor and discipline. It's definitely a case of garbage in, garbage out. So before you go to a lot of work and effort to implement some grand enterprise level controls, make sure you can support it and that the users will actually do it. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. It's why I stick to site level stuff that I can control.


@Rachel Davis The fact an organisation cannot mandate colleagues to apply metadata is a major flaw in using SharePoint Online. Users will not do it and therefore you end up with a host of unassigned content. In previous versions of SharePoint it was easy to get users to add metadata as it was mandatory. I am not sure why MicroSoft have removed this ability but it weakens their product leading many companies to revert to folders, which are terrible for enterprise content management systems, or chose another product. We are looking at choosing another product.

@Bsteenson I'm not privy to Microsoft's actual reasoning for the change, but my experience with required metadata was awful. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE metadata. Nothing gives me more anxiety at work than looking at a file structure that's 10 levels deep and being expected to find a specific document. But metadata requires a level of discipline that most people don't want to bother with so they ignore it - which is pretty easy to do even back in classic days when the metadata fields were truly required. And ignoring the required metadata created WAY more problems. I'm kinda glad they've moved away from that. 


Let's also acknowledge that SharePoint is not an enterprise content management system. If you're trying to do that, it's like putting in a screw with a hammer. I mean, you CAN but it's a miserable experience.  We use SAP for documents that require true enterprise content management. As a result, most of us avoid it like the plague cuz it's a PITA. SharePoint is a tool for sharing content with others and getting work done. It's pretty good at that.


For me, the real issue of metadata vs folders is content retrieval - how do I quickly and easily find content without drilling through a ton of folders only to find the document isn't there or has been misfiled.

I have switched to search. I let people do their folders the way they want to and when I need a document, I use search. It's easier and requires much less discipline than metadata.

You used to be able to require metadata on documents-but that actually resulted in a lot of issues- like thousands of “invisible” documents because they ended up in a checked out state available only to the person who uploaded them. You can still have required metadata, but if you don’t add it, your documents are still uploaded and available to everyone. And you now have an automatic view showing files missing metadata. 

If metadata is critical to a work process, you have options to make “tagging” less painful for users:

- Add a Power Automate flow to remind the uploader to add metadata

- Use document sets to automatically assign metadata in relevant use cases like proposals or contracts
- Use column default values in folders (and add views without folders)

- Consider Microsoft Syntex for automatically assigning metadata in key scenarios 


As an information architect, I love metadata, but the reality is that people often ask users to add way more metadata than is actually necessary. As a result, users hate it. Instead, focus on what is important for your business outcomes and teach users how to name their files to improve search and search query techniques to find files with search. And, don’t ban folders-they are a form of metadata. It’s deep levels of nested folders that cause usability and findability issues.