How to configure metadata navigation for a document library in SharePoint Online?

This SharePoint tutorial explains, how to configure metadata navigation for document libraries in SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013/2016.

Metadata navigation filtering mechanism helps users to dynamically filter contents from lists or document libraries based on metadata in SharePoint Online/2013/2016.

What is the MetaData in SharePoint

Metadata is data about data meaning metadata describes additional information about an item, file or document. Like Metadata for a file can be author name, document type, document size, etc. If you want to associate metadata to a document, first you need to add a column to the document library. By default, SharePoint provides a few metadata columns.

SharePoint introduced metadata to overcome problems with the folder structure inside a document library.

Few problems with folder structure inside the SharePoint document library are:

  • Very difficult to get information from the nested folder structure.
  • If you have more nested folders then you may face URL length limitation problem, because URL length is limited to ~260 characters.
  • You can not sort or filter from SharePoint document library headers. Like this, there are lots of disadvantages.

Configure metadata navigation for a list or library SharePoint Online

For this particular example, I have a custom document library inside my SharePoint online site where I have added one more column of choice type name as “Course” which has values like:- Administration- Developer- End User- Interview Questions And I have uploaded few documents to the document library.

Overall the document library looks like below:

configure metadata navigation for a list or library

To work with metadata navigation first we need to activate the “Metadata Navigation and Filtering” feature. So click on the Gear icon and then click on “Site Settings” which will open the Site Settings page. Then click on the “Managed site features” link which is presented in the “Site Actions” category.

Then in the “Site Features” features page search for “Metadata Navigation and Filtering” feature and click on Activate like below:

configure metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint

Then go back to the document library and click on “Library Settings” from the Ribbon. In the List Settings page, click on “Metadata navigation settings” which is under General Settings.

configure metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint online

Then in the “Metadata Navigation Settings” page go to “Configure Key Filters” section and there you can see the available columns in the “Available Key Filter Fields” section and here I have added the Status column to appear in the filter list like below:

configure metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint 2013

Now if you will go back to the document library you can see a Key Filters section must be appearing in the left navigation like below.

configure metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint 2016

You can choose a course and click on Apply and then it will show only the documents which match the filter criteria.

set up metadata navigation for a list or library

Configure Navigation Hierarchies: Metadata navigation is really helpful to find content in large lists or libraries.

You can also Configure navigation hierarchies from the Metadata Navigation Settings page. Visit the Metadata Navigation Settings page and then from the “Configure Navigation Hierarchies” section select the column which you want to appear in the hierarchy like below. Here I have added the Course custom column which we have created for the document library.

set up metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint online

Then click on OK to save the changes and if you will open the document library, you can see like below:

configure metadata navigation for a list or library sharepoint

You may like following SharePoint document library tutorials:

This tutorial, we learned how to configure metadata navigation for a list or library in SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013/2016.

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Bijay Kumar

I am Bijay from Odisha, India. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies in Bangalore, India. I am Microsoft Office Servers and Services (SharePoint) MVP (5 times). I works in SharePoint 2016/2013/2010, SharePoint Online Office 365 etc. Check out My MVP Profile.. I also run popular SharePoint web site SharePointSky.com

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