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Get started as a Drive labels admin

Supported editions for this feature: Frontline Starter and Frontline Standard; 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.

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Example use cases for Drive labels

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.

Types of Drive labels and where they appear

  1. Badged label
  2. Standard label

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 and then Labels to open the label editing pane. Learn more about how users work with labels.

Who can see 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.

Examples of Drive labels

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

Drive label limits

  • 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.

Ways to apply labels to Drive items

You have several options and can use more than one:

Next steps

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.

FAQ

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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.

Can I make labels or fields required?

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.

Can I import labels and fields from other systems or organizations?

No. Additionally, labels aren't supported by Google Workspace Domain Transfer.

Who can create labels? Who can see labels?

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.
Are labels and fields localized to the user's default language?

No. Users see the text as entered by the label creator.

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