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.


Click on the section to learn more:


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


Here are the basics for 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.metadata amst - 2.png



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 or 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. 

Note    While editing a saved template, you can still add attributes by clicking Add Attribute, or hide existing attributes by clicking Hide, or delete an existing template by clicking Delete.

Deleting Metadata


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

metadata amst - 4.png


Note   Deleting metadata is a permanent action that cannot be undone. No trash bin exists for recovering deleted metadata.
If a metadata template or attribute is associated to an active retention policy, you will not be able to delete the template, attribute, or options until you have retired the retention policy.

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 filter icon.png 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.

Note   Currently, advanced search does not work with multi-select dropdowns. If your metadata template includes a multi-select dropdown field, this field does not appear in the advanced search window. What you can do: to search content with this value, type your multi-select field value into the search bar.


Creating Templates

Administrators can create and manage templates from the Admin Console.

For more information, see Customizing Metadata Templates as well as How to Create the Right Metadata Structure for your Enterprise.


Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers!) about metadata:

How do I add templates to my enterprise?

Admins can create metadata templates on the Content 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.

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.

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


The metadata template owner enterprise owns the metadata template and all values of the template. If the metadata template changes, this will affect any values of metadata that are collaborated with external collaborators.

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?

Refer to shared links chart here.

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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‎08-22-2018 02:16 PM
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