This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often.

Metadata is something that sounds more complex than it is. Put simply, it is data which provides information about other data. Imagine a standard Microsoft word document. Examples of metadata for that word document could include Author, Department, Date created, Hours to create, length, type, file size. It could be a document for a specific customer or vendor. The point of metadata is for structure, organisation and identification of files within the Team. It helps members of the team search for it and discover resources: particularly handy if the Team contains a lot of files. With the new file experience in Teams, metadata can now be surfaced and used within Teams, however it is important to note that it is still created within the document library in the underlying SharePoint site. It is created in two principle ways: through choice columns and through managed metadata. This article will look at adding metadata through choice columns


  • For the structure and organisation of the Teams files
  • To make the Teams files more easily searchable and discoverable


Users need Teams and SharePoint licences – usually via Office/Microsoft 365

For creating metadata columns Team members need Edit permissions on the Team Files/SharePoint Library – which is the default given to members of a Team unless the owner of the Team has previously modified permissions


1.) Select the Team, select the Channel and select the Files tab which shows files

2.) Select Open in SharePoint


3.) You now see the underlying SharePoint library in the underlying SharePoint site. At the right of the documents you will see an option to add column. Select add column


4.) Select Choice from the dropdown


5.) Complete the column information – the name, the description, the options and ensure that ‘require this column contains information’ is ticked. Nothing else is needed. In this example, the Name is Author and the description is author of the document. The options are for four members of the Team – Chris Hoard, Adam Deltinger, Vesa Nopanen and Chris Webb

Once done, select Save


6.) The new metadata column is now showing that info is required and tag icons are next to the document names. Repeat Step 5 for adding additional columns if required. In this example, Country and Reviewer



7.) The metadata columns will pull through to Teams so return to the SharePoint site and select one of the documents and complete the metadata in the details pane



8.) Repeat for all other documents which pulls through into Teams



Our job here is done

Our files are a lot more structured and organised, members of the team can search by author, country or reviewer, files can be arranged on the metadata or new views even created based upon that metadata.

A cool feature is that it even has a point to click view of files which need attention




Whilst effective and easy to implement, there are a few known limitations about applying metadata with choice columns and using this within Teams

1.) The metadata cannot currently be modified directly within Teams or populated when uploading a document (see below. The member of the team has to make the amendments in SharePoint. Whilst IT users would be au fe with this, this could take some time and be another level of complexity for some users


A solution to this – assuming the goal is to not expose the sharepoint site, would be, when uploading, to trigger a form asking to populate the metadata, and include a metadata editor in the menu when selecting a file. This would be a cool add.

2.) Choice columns apply to the site collection they are in, and therefore to the Team that they are in. They do not apply to other Teams and site collections. This could be  advantageous to some companies, but would be problematic to others if wanting to apply the metadata across all Teams and all site collections. This is a reason many organisations use managed metadata by creating columns based on metadata labels held in the Term Store – which will be outlined in the second blog later this week

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