Metadata Tutorial



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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.

For example, a marketing department of a media company could use metadata to organize their digital assets. They could add attributes like owners, project names, release dates, and licensing details to files that are uploaded. Another example could be a contracts team within a multinational business. They could sort their contract assets by reference number, country, custom provisions, and agreement date, and metadata is searchable. It will be indexed alongside other file content (like the title or the text within the file).

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

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. Each of these attributes can also add restrictions to how data is entered. In the same scenario, the Category attribute can be limited to Men, Women, Jewelry, Bags, and Shoes, while Width must be added as a number.

With regards to 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 the metadata service, 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

1. To add a metadata template to a file, you must navigate to the file previewer. You can do this by simply clicking on the file or by selecting Preview from the context menu.

2. Once in the file previewer, click on Info in the right-hand panel to view and edit the file's Metadata.

3. Select Add Template from the METADATA TEMPLATES section in the right-hand panel and choose an available template.

4. Once the template is added to the right-hand panel, you can set or select values for the pre-selected attributes.
Note: You can also add additional attributes for a particular file. Under CUSTOM METADATA, click Add Attribute, enter a title for the attribute you want to add and click Add. Once this attribute is added to the right-hand panel, you can set a custom value in the field. These additional attributes are not shared across any other files.


Editing Metadata Values

To edit metadata values, it's as simple as navigating to the value you want to edit and clicking into the input form for in-line editing. 


Deleting Metadata Templates

To delete a metadata template from a file, simply click on the trash can icon to the right of the template.


Using Advanced Search With Metadata Templates

Metadata values will be 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 do this, enter your search term(s) in the search bar and execute the search (in the following example, we have searched for Fall). A set of filter options will appear to the right of your search results, and you can use the Metadata dropdown menu to chose a specific metadata template (in the example, we've chosen the Brand Asset template).

After you've chosen a template, you can use the attribute categories for that template to filter your search results. (In the example below, we can filter the search results for Fall within the Brand Asset template for photos taken at different angles.)


Creating Templates

Templates are currently created through your Box account team. To get started, send an email to requesting that a template be added to your account; the team will respond with instructions for next steps. Template requests must come through or have approval from an administrator for your Box account.
Several things to note when thinking about your templates:
  • Templates can have a maximum of 64 attributes and 128 items within a pick list
  • Template attributes can only be text, numbers, dates, or pick lists
  • Once a template is published, the following items can not be changed:
    • Attribute type (ie. can not change from number to date field)
    • Editing, renaming, or removing picklist options
We will soon be releasing the ability for administrators to also create and manage templates within their admin console. 



How do I add templates to my enterprise?

Please refer to this tutorial to create you first templates.

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 will be available for external collaborators as long as 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 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. For example, if a collaborator is a Viewer in a folder, that person will only be able to view metadata and not edit it.

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?


What features are next on the roadmap?

We have an extensive roadmap for metadata and would be happy to share it with you. Please email for more information or contact your Box account team to set up an overview.

Are there any known limitations?

      • Reporting on metadata is not currently included in the Admin Console reporting logs. However, all metadata actions are still being tracked for compliance purposes and will be provided upon request. If you would like to see your metadata activity, email for the report. We plan to add this functionality to the Admin Console reporting logs in the near future.
      • Metadata will not be deleted on a file until the file is either deleted and purged from the trash, or if a user deletes the metadata directly. If an account activates and deactivates the metadata feature, metadata on files will still be retained.
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