Supported editions for this feature: Business Standard and Business Plus; Enterprise Standard and Enterprise Plus; Education Standard and Education Plus; Essentials, Enterprise Essentials, and Enterprise Essentials Plus; G Suite Business. Compare your edition
As an administrator, you can create labels to apply to files stored in Drive. Drive labels are metadata that can help your organization organize, find, and apply policies to files in Drive. Your organization’s labels can be applied to any file in Drive owned by your organization, but not to folders, shortcuts, shared drives, or files owned by another organization. Drive labels can be simple, like a tag. Or, they can have many structured metadata fields that include selection fields, dates, numbers, or people.
On this page
- Example use cases for Drive labels
- Types of Drive labels appear and where they appear
- Who can see labels
- Examples of Drive labels
- Drive label limits
- Ways to apply labels to Drive items
- Next steps
Drive labels are useful for many common workplace scenarios, including records management, classification, structured finding, workflow, reporting, auditing, and more.
- Classify content to follow an information governance strategy
Use a label to identify sensitive content or content that requires special handling. For example, with a “Sensitivity” label, you could restrict access to files marked as “Confidential” or “Highly Sensitive”.
- Apply policy to items
Use a label as a condition or action in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) rules or Vault retention rules to meet compliance requirements. For example, if a file contains PII, with DLP you can automatically apply a “Confidential” label and block external sharing. When you use a label in a rule, the label is locked from destructive editing–it can’t be disabled or deleted.
- Find files faster
People in your organization can find content based on labels and fields. For example, with “Contract Status” and “Due Date” label fields, you could search in Drive for all contracts awaiting signature and due by Friday.
Google Drive has two kinds of labels: badged and standard.
Badged labels are for your organization’s most critical metadata, and visually emphasized on files they’re applied to. The badged label is listed next to the file name when users open a file in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides on the web. For other file types, such as PDFs, the badged label is listed in the file’s Labels pane along with any other labels.
You can create only one badged label for your organization. The badged label must have at least one selection field.
Standard labels are for other metadata. You can create 150 standard labels (or 149 if you create a badged label). With a standard label, you can set it up like a tag (a simple label with no user input), or you can add structured fields where users can provide more information.
Users can see all labels applied to an unopened file in My Drive, where they’re listed in the file’s Details pane. Label activity is shown in the file’s Activity pane. For open files, users can click Files Labels to open the label editing pane. Learn more about how users work with labels.
When you create a label, you can set who can see and use the label - your entire organization (the default) or only certain users and groups. If a user isn’t allowed to apply or see the label, they won’t see it in Drive.
Labels aren’t shown in the following scenarios:
- Files downloaded from Drive
- Files previewed in Gmail, Calendar, Chat, or Meet
Super administrators and administrators with the Manage Labels privilege can see all labels in the labels manager. Administrators with the Reports privilege can see labels applied to files listed in reports and audits, even when they don’t have the Manage Labels privilege.
Example of a badged label:
- A “File Sensitivity” label with the options Top Secret, Internal, Public, and Private, each with a different color. When users apply the label, they select how sensitive the content is. If you want users to record why they chose a sensitivity level, you could add a “Justification” text field.
Examples of standard labels:
- A “Project Alpha” label that users can apply to any item related to Project Alpha so they can easily find all relevant files.
- A “Contract” label with the following fields: Type, Company, Status, and Due Date. When you create the label, you assign each field a data type (number, date, person, text, or selection) and define the possible values for selection fields. For example, you can have the options for the Status field be Draft, Awaiting Signature, Rejected, Signed, or Expired. Users can then search by field values in Drive, such as for all expired contracts.
Additional label taxonomies:
- Export Control: EAR, ITAR, OFAC
- Compliance: FINRA, HIPAA
- Privacy: PII, SPII, No PII
- Status: Draft, In Review, Final
- Content type: Contract, Design Doc, Mockup
- Drug trial: experiment ID, patient ID
- You can create up to 150 labels for your organization, including 1 badged label.
- Files can have up to 5 user-applied labels. You can apply up to 20 labels total between user-applied and rule-applied labels.
- Labels can be applied to any file in Drive, but not to folders, shortcuts, shared drives, or files owned by another organization.
You have 3 options:
- Users with edit access to files can apply labels to files in Google Drive.
- You can use the Labels API to create, edit, apply, and remove labels programmatically. For details, see the Google Drive Labels API documentation.
- If your Google Workspace edition supports data loss prevention (DLP) for Drive, you can set up DLP rules to automatically apply labels to content.
Turn on Drive labels for your organization. Though you can create labels while Drive labels are turned off, your organization can’t use them until Drive labels are turned on.What types of files can labels be applied to? Can folders have labels?
Labels can be applied to any file in Drive, including uploaded files like PDFs, Microsoft Office files, text files, and more.
Labels can’t be applied to folders, shortcuts, shared drives, or files owned by another organization.
You can mark fields as required, however, users aren’t blocked from using, sharing, or editing files if they don’t complete a label.
Labels with required fields are highlighted to the user to encourage completion. They see a banner when a required field isn't completed.
No. Additionally, labels aren't supported by Google Workspace Domain Transfer.
To create labels, you must have at least the Manage Labels privilege.
To see labels:
- In Drive, a user must have at least view access on the label and the file.
- In the labels manager, an administrator must be a super administrator or have the Manage Labels privilege.
- In Drive reports and audits, administrators with the Reports privilege, even when they don’t have the Manage Labels privilege.
No. Users see the text as entered by the label creator.