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Editing Managed Metadata Fields in SharePoint 2010

[ 4 ] February 8, 2012 |

One of the limitations of using Managed Metadata fields in SharePoint 2010 is the inability to use the datasheet view. This is a little annoying, especially if you want to be able to bulk edit Managed Metadata fields.

Whilst maybe not the best solution there is a number of ways that you can edit Managed Metadata fields that may make the process of updating these fields easier.

So lets assume that we have the following Document Library below. The column ‘Category’ is a Managed Metadata column that we associated a specific category to a document that exists in this library:


Document library with a Managed Metadata column called category

Standard Browser Editing

As with other columns you can always edit Managed Metadata columns through the Web Interface quickly and easily. There are a number of ways to get to editing the item but either way you will end up with being able to type-ahead or select a value from a list of options. Remember though that this will only let you edit one item at a time:


Editing one item at a time

Office Client Editing

The other way to edit Managed Metadata is through the Office client interface. You can go into the backstage view and perform the same operation as through the standard browser option above. However you need to have Office 2010, Managed Metadata columns are NOT supported to be editing in Office 2007:


Office client editing

Inline Editing

This is a great feature that hardly gets any mention but it works great for Managed Metadata fields. If you have inline editing enabled you can edit Managed Metadata (and other fields) in place without having to go into another screen. I think of it as the poor mans datasheet since you cannot make changes to more than one item at a time, but it does save considerable time editing metadata:


Using Inline Editing

Document Set Shared Columns

Out of the box there is only one way to bulk edit Managed Metadata fields and that is by using a Document Set, creating a managed metadata column, and then setting it as shared. So lets assume that I have a Document Set that I use to store Project Documents:


Project Document Set

Once I have created the Document Set and added my Managed Metadata columns to the set, I select the column that I want to share across all content in the set as Shared:


Making the Customer column shared

Now if I edit the properties of the Document Set all the values of my shared column called ‘Customer’ will change and be propagated to the contents contained within:


Changing the Shared Column


Updated documents within the Document Set

So as you can see there are a number of ways to edit Managed Metadata fields in SharePoint 2010. Although there isn’t an ideal solution to get around the Datasheet issue its good to know that there are plenty of options available.

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Category: How To

About Michal Pisarek: Michal Pisarek is the founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and a Microsoft SharePoint MVP. View author profile.

Comments (4)

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  1. Hi Michal,

    thanks for pointing out what is possible when in comes to editing Managed Metadata in SharePoint 2010 and also where there are limitations. In my opinion “a little annoying” is a fairly moderate evaluation for the fact that Managed Metadata fields are read-only in datasheet view.

    There’s a partial remedy for this limitation that I’d like to add to your list: Setting a “Default Value” for your column! Especially when it comes to migrating documents (e.g. from a legacy file system to SharePoint) this can be a handy workaround.

    How to do it:
    1) Define a “Default Value” for your Managed Metadata Column(s)
    2) Bulk-upload all your documents that match the criteria defined in your Default Value
    3) Change your Default value to the next expression
    4) Bulk-upload the next batch of documents for this new default value

    and so on…

    There’s a catch: In order to procede as described the person who is uploading needs to have a permission level higher than “Contribute” for the respective document library. Otherwhise you won’t be able to change the default value for the column.

    Not a perfect remedy but at least something to make data migration a bit easier.

    Best regards from Mannheim, Germany

    René Fritsch

  2. Ram Tagher says:

    Hi Michal,

    I’ve read your article and I have found it to be very interesting. The issue that you’ve discussed is indeed somewhat of a “weak spot” of SharePoint’s functionality and user friendliness.
    The use case for updating multiple sets of properties in one sitting is very common and the cumbersome method that is available within SharePoint doesn’t make sense …
    At we believe that this typical use case must be answered in a much easier and intuitive way… and we do! for SharePoint allows multiple metadata You are welcome to read more about this topic here :

    Also, you are welcome to try for yourself .. it is free!

    Best regards,

  3. Brian Fraidakis says:

    Thanks great explanation for this. I just found a 3rd party tool to do bulk metadata editing at, hope that helps someone else

  4. Den says:

    Hi Michal,

    I am looking at an interesting case with SP 2010 Enterprise. A Document Set library has 4 metadata columns. Two of those colums ARE bulk-editable via datasheet view (32-bit browser only possible), the other two say “read-only”. I tried to reproduce the case, unsuccessfuly.
    But I DO have a working case of bulk-editing managed metadata. Compared the 4 columns& content type definitions- defined same way. Tested with share/non-shared columns & library vs content-type included columns.
    All forums state, that should not be possible OOTB, but I do have this case, which I can neither explain or reproduce.

    If you have found an OOTB way to handle bulk-edit of managed metadata, could you please share the experience.

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