Google Drive metadata enables you to add custom categories and properties to files and folders in Drive, in a consistent way across your business or school. Users can then search for content using specific terms that are meaningful to your organisation.
What is metadata?
Metadata is simply information about your files. In Google Drive, metadata is organised into categories that map to common categories of files in your organisation. In common metadata terminology, a category is equivalent to “schema”. Each category is a set of structured properties that are relevant to a particular category of files.
- You might have a category called Contract.
- The Contract could have properties called Type, Company, Status and Due Date.
- You assign each property a data type (number, date, person, text or selection). If the type is selection, you define the possible values. For example, Contract’s Status property might be a selection of Draft, Awaiting Signature, Rejected, Signed or Expired.
Metadata is one of the components that make up Google Cloud Search. It is a service which adds support for indexing and search over third-party enterprise content such as internal websites and portals, content management systems, file systems, relational databases and content hosted in enterprise applications.
Benefits of metadata categories
- Categorise common file types for everyone at your organisation
Administrators can create categories that all your users can apply to their files.
- Define and scope relevant categories to team content
Admins and users (if you allow it) can also create categories to use only with Team Drives. Team Drive Managers can select the categories that their Team Drive members can choose from.
- Curate and find files faster
End users can apply categories to the files and folders they can edit. They can also set the property values.People in your organisation can then find content based on categories and properties. For example, they can use Drive search options to find all contracts awaiting signature and due by Friday.
Metadata best practices
- It’s recommended to create 4 or fewer properties per category. Metadata is very powerful but only if it’s widely and consistently used. People are much more likely to apply categories and edit properties if it’s quick and easy.
- Before creating a category, check if there’s already one you can use. The fewer similar categories that users see, the more likely they are to make the best choice.
- Create and select categories for shared drives so team members have a smaller, more useful set of options to choose from.
- Avoid confidential information in category names and selection options. Published categories are visible and might be used by all admins and shared drive managers in your organisation.
- Before you publish a new category, confirm the type of each property. Once the category is published, property types can’t be changed. You also can’t change whether users can pick multiple values for a selection property.
- Also be cautious about changing a published category in other ways. Changes affect all the files where the category has already been applied, including some you might not be aware of. For example, files with the category might have new file owners or be located in other shared drives.
Hopefully, Google Drive metadata will spark joy in your quest for company file organisational zen. Who knows? You could even be the Marie Kondo of Google Drive.