Metadata allows users and applications to define and store custom data associated with their files in Box. This custom data can serve many different use cases and can be set either within the Box web application or programmatically via the API.


To optimize metadata searching, though, use Advanced Search to filter results based on metadata templates and attributes. Additionally, metadata also provides the opportunity for companies to migrate metadata from existing systems to Box. Therefore, if you had a homegrown document management tool with custom metadata, you could now map those values to Box so that you don’t lose any of your legacy data.


This tutorial serves as a guide on how to use metadata within the Box web application. For technical details on how to integrate with Box, developers can visit our API documentation.


Metadata Templates

Using Metadata Templates

Using Advanced Search With Metadata Templates

Creating Templates



Metadata Templates

The primary way to use metadata is through metadata templates. Templates are a logical grouping of metadata attributes that help classify content. For example, a marketing team at a retail organization may have a Brand Asset template that defines a piece of content in more detail. This Brand Asset template may have attributes like "Line", "Category", "Height (px)", "Width (px)", or "Marketing Approved".



Metadata templates are important for several reasons:

  1. To enforce uniformity across your enterprise's metadata
  2. To reduce errors and accelerate data entry by your employees or team members
  3. To enable advanced searches

When using metadata, it's important to consider what functional groups will benefit from adding and maintaining metadata templates. Our suggestion is to consider using metadata in the following lines of business:

  • Legal - Classifying legal contracts. From custom terms of service to acquisition contracts, metadata attributes like signature date or contract term can prove useful for discovery.
  • Vendor Management - Onboard and manage vendor contracts and details for much easier reporting and cost management.
  • Sales - Organize content by product line, use case, or sales geography. Make it easier for sales representatives to find important collateral.
  • Marketing - Manage digital assets and sales enablement material. Centralize multiple digital asset repositories to help streamline brand efforts.
  • Project Management - Add structure and status to documents. Add detail to project work plans to help accelerate and communicate project progress.
  • HR - Standardize the employee lifecycle, from hiring to retiring. Leverage metadata to find common forms to analyzing employee data.


Using Metadata Templates 

Adding Metadata Templates

  • Preview the file whose metadata values you wish to edit. You can do this by simply clicking on a file.
  • Once in the preview screen, click Details in the right-hand panel.
  • Scroll down to the Metadata section. Click +Add, then choose the Metadata Template you'd like to use.

Custom Metadata: If no relevant metadata template exists, you can create a custom template for a particular file. When choosing a template, select Add Custom Metadata. Click Add Attribute, to create a custom attribute. You will be prompted to enter a "Key", or title for the attribute, and set a value for the attribute. Click Save once you are done. You can add as many custom attributes as you'd like. These additional attributes are not shared across any other files. 

Note: You can assign up to 100 metadata templates to a specific file/folder.


Editing Metadata Values

To edit existing metadata values, click Edit Metadata in the Metadata section of the right hand panel. Then, simply navigate to the value you want to edit and click into the appropriate text box or drop down menu. 


Deleting Metadata Templates

To delete a metadata template from a file, simply click on the "x" to the right of the template's name:



Using Advanced Search With Metadata Templates

Metadata values are indexed by the Box search engine. If you perform a search, it will treat metadata values similarly to how file titles or file text are currently treated. If a match on metadata is made, it will influence the search results returned to you using Box’s custom search relevance algorithm.


You can also use advanced search to filter results within specific metadata templates. To search using specific metadata templates:

  • Click the Advanced Search icon in the Search box at the top of the screen
  • Click Metadata, and select the template you'd like to use for your search
  • Enter the values you'd like to search for, then hit enter to search.





Creating Templates

Administrators can create and manage templates from the Admin Console.



How do I add templates to my enterprise?

Admins can create metadata templates on the Work Processes tab in the Admin Console.


Can I use metadata without templates?

Yes, you can use metadata without templates. For accounts that have metadata activated, you can always add metadata in the Additional Attributes section of Metadata.


What types of accounts can access metadata?

Metadata is a feature reserved for Business Plus, Enterprise and Elite accounts. It is also available on developer accounts through To upgrade your account, please contact your Box account team.


Where can I send feedback?


How does metadata work with external collaborators within a folder?

Metadata is only available for external collaborators who collaborate in a folder where the folder owner has metadata enabled on their account.

  • Only the following account types can enable metadata: Business Plus, Enterprise, Elite
  • Users with the following account types can access a metadata template if the folder owner can enable this feature: Personal, Personal Pro, Starter, Business

Read and write access of existing templates will adhere to standard folder collaborator settings. New templates can only be added by users within an enterprise; external collaborators outside the enterprise will not be able to add new templates.


How does metadata work with folder permissions?

Metadata will adhere to folder-level permissions. A collaborator with permission to view items can view metadata, and a collaborator with upload permissions can edit metadata values.

  • For example, if a collaborator is a Viewer in a folder, that person will only be able to view metadata and not edit it.

If a collaborator is a Previewer Uploader in a folder, then that person can both view and edit metadata. Refer to the permissions chart to see which permissions are granted to each collaborator role.


How does metadata work with shared links?


Metadata is not shown on shared links unless the recipient is a collaborator on the the parent folder being shared.


Is my metadata encrypted?



Are there any known limitations?


Metadata will not be deleted unless a user deletes the metadata directly off the file or folder. If an account activates and deactivates the metadata feature, or if an item with metadata is deleted, metadata on files and folders will still be retained.

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