Using Office 365 Labels with SharePoint Search

What are Office 365 Labels?

Label the right content with the right actions against it. Across your organization, you probably have different types of content that require different actions taken on them in order to comply with industry regulations and internal policies. Labels allow users to classify data within their organisation for governance and enforce retention based on the classification of content in Office 365.

Labels are configured in your Office 365 tenant under the Security and Compliance Administration Center:Office365center.png


In short, you create a Label and Publish it as part of a policy that can target specific areas of Office 365 or across the entire Office 365. Labels can be set to automatically be applied to content that match either search queries or match specific information types such as credit card numbers or passport numbers, identified as personal information, or they can be manually applied by users.

Labels can have retention settings specified and any content that has the label applied can be set to being declared as a record:


Searching for SharePoint content with specific Labels

As there will be lots and lots of content in SharePoint online with different labels applied, it becomes important that users can search and identify different content:

  • Records Managers need to identify content with specific retention policies applied across all of SharePoint
  • Project Management officers need to identify all project content with specific labels and related to specific projects that match specific contract obligations
  • Ensure sensitive and other content related to an individual is identified and removed from SharePoint to comply with GDPR policies

If you have been granted the appropriate permissions in SharePoint and the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center you can perform searches for specific labels across all of Office 365 (Exchange, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive):


Looking at how you search for specific labels it seems the search is against a ComplianceTag property:


Based on this information, it would seem that there is a Managed Search Property called ‘ComplianceTag’. Looking at the SharePoint online search schema confirms this and because it is searchable it can be used by any search queries against SharePoint:


This opens up the potential that content can be searched for by specific labels in SharePoint online by any users. The example below shows a simple search across SharePoint online for content matching two different labels:


ComplianceTag:”Project Documentation” OR ComplianceTag:”Marketing Material”

As mentioned previously this content could have actions associated with it such as a disposition review as it is tagged with a specific label. As there could be numerous SharePoint site collections, using search to bring this content together that match specific labels is really powerful. You can then use the power of search to preview content or open it up or edit metadata.

Combining an Office 365 label search with other search parameters

As labels are exposed as a normal Managed Property in search we can use it like any other property in a Keyword Query Lanaguage (KQL) query. Taking the example above I can extend it further by checking for all content matching labels and where the author is myself:

ComplianceTag:”Project Documentation” OR ComplianceTag:”Marketing Material” AND Author:”Colin Wood”


So you can now build up simple or more advanced queries that returns content matching specific labels in addition to other search parameters which gives users even more powerful options in terms of returning content against specific criteria. It maybe that we need to identify sensitive content relating to specific projects or users for example.

OnePlaceLive and Office 365 Labels

OnePlaceLive is one our products here at OnePlace Solutions. It allows you to reduce the complexity of SharePoint by delivering SharePoint locations and content to different groups of users inside their favorite applications such as Outlook:

We deliver these using ‘Solution Profiles’ that in essence are a search query against SharePoint that can be defined once and dynamically executed by users. They can be targeted to different groups of users such as users of a Legal Matter Management System, Project Management System or Records Managers.

Now that we have identified we can find content matching specific labels with a SharePoint search we can create solution profiles that can search for content matching specific labels and/or combined with any other search properties you want to search on. We can then deliver this content to users inside Outlook for example, where they spend most of their time day in day out.


We create the solution profile above where we define the search query. In the example above I am creating a solution profile that could be used by records managers. It is looking for content with specific labels and because I know that any content with these labels are declared as records, it will identify all records across all of SharePoint online. I then publish this profile and it automatically appears inside Outlook, where the Records Manager can click on it and execute the query and view all records in SharePoint online inside Outlook:


I can then add specific profiles for say, Marketing Records to just show Marketing Records.


These are fairly simple examples but you get the idea, the queries can be as simple or as complex as you want or need it to be and can target different groups of users.

So hopefully what you can now see is that you can use labels in Office 365 as part of your SharePoint search queries. What is really powerful is the ability to use labels in combination with other search properties to identify content that is particularly sensitive or has certain compliance actions associated with it. This is really beneficial from a GDPR perspective to identify personal GDPR data (content that may be labelled with specific GDPR related Office 365 labels and specific to a user) and really useful for Records Managers and many other business applications. Once content is labelled, it is important that this content can be found and identified so actions can be performed on it.

1 thought on “Using Office 365 Labels with SharePoint Search

  1. Pingback: Add a default Label to a SharePoint Online Document Library | Colin Wood

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