Manage Drive labels (beta)

Important: This feature is currently in beta and not yet available to all customers. Administrators for supported Workspace editions can apply for the Drive labels beta.

Supported editions for this feature: Business Standard and Plus; Enterprise; Education Standard and Plus; G Suite Business; Essentials.  Compare your edition

What are labels?

Labels are metadata you define to help users organize, find, and apply policy to items in Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Drive labels are useful for many common workplace scenarios for organizing files, including: record management, classification, structured finding, workflow, reporting, auditing, and more.

You can author, define taxonomies (label structures), and publish labels. End users can apply labels to the files they can edit, and can also set the field values. You can create up to 100 labels for your organization.

Use labels to...

  • Classify content to follow an information governance strategy
    You can create a label that maps to a classification schema which can be applied consistently across your entire organization to identify sensitive content or content that requires special handling.
  • Apply policy to items
    Drive labels can be used as a condition or action in Data Loss Prevention rules (beta) or Vault retention rules (coming soon) to meet compliance requirements. 
    Rules let you use labels to ensure Drive content is managed throughout its lifecycle, and adheres to your organization’s record keeping practices.
  • Curate and find files faster
    You can create labels that increase searchability of your company’s knowledge. Users working with files in a collaborative environment can use labels they apply as supplemental attributes to improve finding and organizing content.
    People in your organization can then find content based on labels and fields. An example scenario is someone in your organization could use Drive search options to find all contracts awaiting signature and due by Friday.

Label types...

In Google Drive, there are two types of labels: badged and standard.

Badged label—helps users apply a prominent indicator to emphasize the most critical metadata. You can create one label with badged options for your organization. Example of using a badged label:

  • Create a label named File Sensitivity. This label could have the field options: Top Secret, Internal, Public, and Private. Each option can have a unique badge color. Your organization can then use the label to indicate the sensitivity level of files so that a visually prominent badge appears in Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Standard labels—create a simple label or complex one with descriptive metadata containing multiple structured fields. Example of a simple standard label:

  • Create a label named Project Alpha. Your organization can apply this label to all files associated with this project, which will help you identify and retrieve all files for this project.

Example of a standard label with structured fields:

  • Create a label named Contract. This Contract label can have fields called Type, Company, Status, and Due Date.
  • You assign each field a data type (number, date, person, text, or selection). If the type is selection, you define the possible values. For example, Contract’s Status field might be a selection of Draft, Awaiting Signature, Rejected, Signed, or Expired. Structured fields allow you to access specific files with granular access.

Sign up for Drive labels beta

Administrators for the editions listed above can apply for the metadata beta program.

Note: Users with other editions can view or edit label values that have been added to a file owned by a user in your organization with a supported edition.

Turn labels on or off for your organization

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  3. Click Labels.

    Tip: If you want to let certain people manage metadata without any other admin privileges, you can create a custom administrator role for just the Manage Labels privilege.

  4. Turn labels on or off.

  5. Click Save.

With labels turned on, the following roles can complete the following actions:

Role File access Action user can take  
Admin any type of access Create new labels and manage the label taxonomy  
User Edit access Edit, apply published labels, and edit the fields for those labels.  
User View access View (but not add or edit) labels applied to these files.  
User View or edit access Use Drive search options to find content with specific labels or fields  


With labels turned off:

  • Labels and their corresponding fields are hidden and can’t be created, updated, applied to files, or used for search. 
  • Any labels that were previously created will remain. If you turn labels back on, previously created labels will be usable again.

Set up and configure labels

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See the sections below for guidance on how to use labels in your organization.

Create new labels

The process for creating new labels varies depending on the type of label you want to create.

Create a new badged label for your organization

If your organization has labels enabled, you can create up to 1 badged label for users in your organization to use.

  1. On your computer, go to the labels manager at https://drive.google.com/labels
  2. Click New label.
  3. Choose a badged label
  4. Choose to start from an example, or from scratch.
  5. Update the title.
  6. Optional step: Add a description or a learn more URL that points to your organization’s internal documentation about the label.
  7. Choose whether the label is required to be filled out by end users.
  8. Customize options, and assign a color.
  9. Click Publish.

Create a new standard label for your organization

If your organization has labels enabled, you can create up to 100 standard labels for users in your organization to use.

  1. On your computer, go to the labels manager at https://drive.google.com/labels
  2. Click New label.
  3. Choose a standard label. You can Create New or use one of the label templates such as “Use Contract”.,    
  4. Update the title.
  5. Optional step: Add a description.
  6. A label can contain up to 10 fields. See Working with fields in labels below for more information
  7. Click Publish.

Publishing labels

New labels are created in a "draft" state. You can see how your draft changes will appear to end users before publishing. Clicking Publish makes the label available to users specified in Permissions.


Keep in mind that field type and allow multiple selections cannot be changed after publishing. Draft changes will be made available to end users by publishing the label. After publishing, subsequent changes will make a new draft that must be published before end users will see the updates.

Manage labels for your organization

If you’re an admin with Manage Labels privilege, you can create and manage labels for your entire organization. On your computer, go to the labels manager at https://drive.google.com/labels to get started, and on that page you can take the following actions:

View all labels in your organization

  1. In the labels manager, a list of all labels you have access to will appear
  2. Optionally, you can:
    1. Filter the list by typing into the “Search for label name” box
    2. Sort the list by label name, last modified date, or status

Edit existing labels

  1. In the labels manager, click the label you want to edit.
  2. Make changes to the label.
  3. Click Publish.

Disable a label

  1. In the labels manager, find the label you want to delete, and click More""
  2. Choose Disable.
  3. A dialog appears informing you that the label will be disabled. Click Disable and show to confirm.

Users can no longer apply this label, but the label will still show up where it's already been applied and in search results.

Delete a label

To delete a label, you must first disable it. Follow the instructions above for disabling a label.

  1. After you’ve disabled the label, in the labels manager, find the label you want to delete, and click More""
  2. Choose Delete.
  3. A dialog appears that the label will be deleted permanently. Click Delete permanently to confirm.

Note: When a label is deleted, all instances where that label was previously applied, including any corresponding field values entered by users will be permanently deleted and removed from files.

Working with fields in labels
Field What users can do Format considerations and limits
Options list Pick one or more options from a list Optional configuration: “Allow multiple selections” checkbox
Maximum number of options supported is 200
Maximum number of selections for a field is 10
Number Enter a numerical value Only whole numbers are supported
Date Pick a calendar date Optional configuration: “Date format” can be set to “Long: Month DD, YYYY”, or “Short: MM/DD/YY“
Text Enter text in a text box Maximum character count supported is 100
Person Pick a person from their Workspace contacts Optional configuration: “Allow multiple sections” checkbox

Add a field

  1. With a label open in editing mode, click Add Fields.
  2. Choose one or more field type.
  3. Configure the options for your new field(s).
  4. Click Add fields and then Publish.

Notes:

  • A maximum of 10 fields can be added to a label.
  • When adding new fields, confirm the type of each field is correct before publishing. Once the label is published, a field type can’t be changed. You also can’t change whether users can pick multiple values for a selection or person field after publishing. Learn more about Publishing labels.

Mark a field required for users

  1. With a label open in editing mode, expand the desired field.
  2. Click the checkbox next to Require users to pick an option.

Note: While labels with required fields are visually emphasized to the user to encourage completion, they do not block the user from using Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, and therefore making a selection isn’t mandatory. Users will see a banner message and the required field highlighted if they haven’t selected an option.

Disable a field

  1. With a label open in editing mode, find the desired field
  2. Click More""
  3. Choose Disable.
  4. Click Publish changes.

Note: When a field is disabled, users won’t be able to apply values to it anymore. However, it will continue to show up anywhere it already has values applied, and in search results. 

Delete a field

  1. To delete a field, you must first disable it. See instructions for disabling a field above.
  2. With a label open in editing mode, find the desired field and click More""
  3. Choose Delete.
  4. Click Publish changes.

Disable a field option

  1. With a label open in editing mode, expand the desired parent field.
  2. Find the field option you want to disable, and click More""
  3. Choose either “Show and don’t allow selection” or “Hide and disable”
    1. Choose "Show and don't allow selection" if you want users to see the field option, but block them from selecting it.
    2. Choose "Hide and disable” if you want to hide the field completely.
  4. Click Publish changes.

Delete a field option

  1. To delete a field option, you must first disable it. See instructions for disabling a field option above.
  2. With a label open in editing mode, expand the desired parent field
  3. Find the field option you want to delete, and click More""
  4. Choose Delete.
  5. Click Publish changes.
Manage label permissions

Label permissions allow for granular control of which users in your organization can view, apply, edit field values, and search for a specific label.

Note: File permissions still apply. For example, a user who has the ability to apply a specific label and has view-only permissions on a specific document, will only have view permissions for labels that have been applied to that document.

Open label permissions

  1. On your computer, go to the labels manager at https://drive.google.com/labels
  2. Find and click on the label you wish to manage permissions for.
  3. Once in editing mode, click the Permissions button in the header.
  4. In the Label Permission dialog, use the selection drop down to choose the appropriate permission level for your organization. 
  5. If you wish to restrict access to specific people or groups (for example, when testing a new label, or for labels which may contain confidential information), you can do so by choosing Restricted access next to your organization name. You can then specify  individual users or groups, and their corresponding permission levels.

Note: Permission changes do not require publishing the label.

Permission levels

Permission What the user can do
Can view this label View and search for the label on files they can view or comment on.
 
Can apply labels and set values Apply, set values, and search for this label on flies they can edit.
 
Label rules

Data protection rules (beta)

You can use published labels in data protection rules with Workspace editions that also support Data Loss Prevention (DLP). You can create a data protection rule action that applies a label to files in Drive. Also, You can use labels as rule conditions to define specialized rules that apply only to documents using that label or it’s corresponding field. Learn more.

For example, a data protection rule can be created that scans for credit card numbers and social security numbers in documents. If a match is found, a label named “File Sensitivity” could be applied, and the field value set to “Confidential”.
 

Note: Data protection rules only support badged labels and standard labels with the “Options List” field type. Other label field types cannot be referenced in data protection rules at this time.
For more information, see Beta: Use automated classification with DLP for Drive.

Labels best practices

Here are tips on how you can get the most out of labels for your organization:

  • Consider the use cases for your labels, and which type of label will best suit the needs of your organization.
  • We recommend carefully evaluating the number of fields added to a label. Labels can be powerful, but only if they are widely and consistently used. Users are more likely to apply labels and edit field values if it's quick and easy. 
  • Before creating a label, check if there’s already one you can use. The fewer labels that users see, the more likely they are to make the best choice.
  • Avoid confidential information in label names, field names, and selection options. Any admin in your organization with the Manage Labels privilege can edit labels, and depending on how a label’s permissions have been configured, they could be visible to everyone in your organization.
  • Before you publish a new label, confirm the type of each field. Once the label is published, field types can’t be changed. You also can’t change whether users can pick multiple values for a selection or person field.
  • Be cautious about changing a published label in other ways. Changes affect all the files where the label has already been applied.
Known limitations
  • There’s currently a limit of 100 labels per customer. We’ll revisit the limits based on user feedback to find the best compromise between flexibility and usability.
  • Labels cannot be applied to folders or shared drives at this time. We are actively exploring changes to better align with customer expectations and needs in this area.
  • You can’t share fields between different labels.
  • Field types and the "allow multiple selections" option cannot be changed after publishing. 
  • Labels owned by an organization can only be applied to files owned by that organization.
  • Labels are not supported in Google Workspace Domain Transfer.

FAQs

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Which Google Workspace editions will have access to labels?

The following editions can turn on labels for their organization: Essentials, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, Education Plus, Nonprofits.

The following editions can use labels in data protection rules: Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, Education Plus.

Is there a limit on the number of labels an organization can create?

Yes. Currently there is a limit of 100 standard labels and 1 badged label with options per domain. Additionally, there is a limit of 5 user-applied labels per file, and up to 20 labels total, including those applied by rules. If these limits don’t meet your needs, please email drive-labels-feedback@google.com and share your feedback to help us understand your experience with limits.

Which file types can labels be applied to?

Labels can be applied to items in Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides. Labels cannot be applied to Shortcuts, Folders, or files owned by another organization.

How can I apply labels to existing files in my organization’s corpus?

Currently you can do this manually through bulk applying labels to files. In Drive for web, select the files you want to add a label to, right click (secondary context click), use the Labels submenu to apply labels to all files selected. Alternatively, data protection rules can be used to automatically apply labels to existing files.

What are some example label taxonomies organizations use?

Sensitivity: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green
Export Control: EAR, ITAR, OFAC
Compliance: FINRA, HIPAA
Privacy: PII, SPII, No PII
Status: Draft, In Review, Final
Content type: Contract, Design Doc, Mockup
Contract: signing date, expiration date
Drug trial: experiment ID, patient ID
Department: Marketing, Finance, Human Resources

Can I import labels and fields from other systems?

Not currently. Workspace Migrate and 3rd-party vendors are working on allowing you to import labels and fields from other systems in the future. Details are forthcoming.

Can I limit access to certain labels or fields?

You can set permissions for each label (see Manage label permissions). However, you cannot set permissions at the field level. Also, labels do not override permissions from file permissions, so a file viewer will never be able to modify values of a label even if the label permissions allow it.

Can I apply labels to folders in Drive?

The ability to label folders is not currently supported. We have received feedback that customers want labels on folders to apply to items within the folder, and we are exploring how to make this happen.

Can I make labels or fields required?

Yes. You can mark fields as required. While labels with required fields are visually emphasized to the user to encourage completion, they do not block the user from using Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, and therefore are not truly mandatory. Users will see a banner message and a required field visual treatment in the user interface when a required field has not been completed. We are currently investigating other options that include blocking workflows for use cases that require true mandatory enforcement. Please let us know your needs in this area.

Is it possible to apply labels through an API?

There is a labels API (beta) that you can use to create, edit, apply, and remove labels programmatically. Email drive-labels-feedback@google.com to request access to the labels API beta.

Resources

Send us feedback

We value your input, and appreciate your help to make Drive labels a success! Please send your feedback to drive-labels-feedback@google.com.

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