Configure metadata navigation for a list or library

To make it easier for users to find content in large lists and libraries, you can configure metadata navigation. Metadata navigation enables users to dynamically filter and find content in lists and libraries by using a navigation hierarchy tree control to apply different metadata-based filters to the view. Key Filters can be used in combination with the navigation hierarchy to refine the list of items that are displayed.

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Metadata Navigation and Filtering features

The Metadata Navigation and Filtering features make it easier to work with very large lists and libraries:

Configurable navigation hierarchies and Key Filters

When metadata navigation is configured for a list or library, a tree control on the left-hand side of the page displays a hierarchy of both folders and managed metadata terms that can be used to filter the view of items in the list or library to create dynamic displays of content. An additional Key Filters control displays below the navigation hierarchy tree control, and it can be used in combination with the navigation hierarchy to refine the list of items that are displayed. You can determine which columns from the library appear in the navigation hierarchy, and you can also specify Key Filters, when you configure metadata navigation.

Site users can use the navigation hierarchy to browse a list or library by folder or by metadata. When users select a managed metadata term in the navigation hierarchy, the view is automatically filtered to display only those items that are tagged with that term or any of its descendant terms. To filter only on a particular term and exclude the descendant child terms, users can select the item again. Metadata navigation works together with filters specified in any existing list views, as well as with filters specified in columns for the list.

Metadata Navigation

Callout 1 Tree control
Callout 2 Folder hierarchy for the list or library
Callout 3 Term
Callout 4 Descendant child terms
Callout 5 Key Filters

You can configure and use metadata navigation for lists and libraries even if these lists and libraries don't use actual Managed Metadata columns because there are additional column types that can be used as fields within a metadata navigation hierarchy, including Content Type and Single-value Choice Fields. Key Filters can use the following columns types in addition to the Managed Metadata Field: Content Type, Choice Field, Person or Group Field, Date and Time Field, and Number Fields.

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Automatic index creation

When you configure metadata navigation for a list or library, you can specify whether you want indices to be created automatically for the fields you have selected to add to the navigation hierarchy and Key Filters. This setting is enabled by default, and it is the recommended setting. When you enable automatic indexing, single column indices will be created on all supported Key Filter fields (except for the Content Type and Choice fields), and compound indices will be created on all supported combinations of navigation hierarchies and Key Filters.

When indices are created automatically, queries are allowed for lists that have more items than the list view threshold. In some cases, you may have to disable this setting and configure custom indices manually. For example, if the combination of single column and compound indices required for the navigation hierarchy and Key Filter fields selected exceeds 20 (the maximum number of indices per list), automatic indexing must be disabled.

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Indexed queries and fallback queries

Metadata Navigation and Filtering is enabled by default on most sites created in SharePoint Server 2010. Even if metadata navigation has not been configured for a specific list or library, Metadata Navigation and Filtering is still at work behind the scenes to improve the performance of views in lists and libraries. The Metadata Navigation and Filtering feature automatically selects the best index to work every time a view is loaded. When users load new views, apply filters to views, clear filters, or apply a sort on a field, query optimization determines the best way in which to query the database without list view throttling.

If a user creates or loads a view that cannot be expressed as a selective indexed query, then Metadata Navigation and Filtering will construct and execute a fallback query. A fallback query is a modified version of the original user query that displays a partial set of the items requested because it queries against only a portion of the list instead of the entire list. It is intended to provide the user with some useful results in circumstances when the original query is prohibited due to large list throttling. Occasionally, fallback queries will return 0 results if no items the part of the list scanned by the query contain results that match the original user query.

When a fallback query occurs, the user is alerted by an onscreen message that he or she is viewing only a partial set of results, and that he or she must apply additional filters to view a complete set.

The fallback query message also serves as a warning to list or library owners that the data distribution in the list is skewed and that users are blocked from accessing content they need because certain user queries cannot return a full set of results.

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Enable Metadata Navigation and Filtering

The Metadata Navigation and Filtering feature is enabled by default on most sites. If it is not enabled for your site, you can enable it on the Site Features pages for your site.

You must be a Site Owner or a Site Collection Administrator to enable Metadata Navigation and Filtering.

  1. On the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
  2. Under Site Actions, click Manage site features.
  3. In the Features list, find Metadata Navigation and Filtering, and then click Activate.

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Configure Metadata Navigation

You must have a least the Manage Lists permission level to configure metadata navigation for a list or library.

  1. Go to the list or library for which you want to configure metadata navigation.
  2. Click the List or Library tab of the ribbon, and then click List Settings or Library Settings.
  3. Under General Settings, click Metadata navigation settings.
  4. In the Configure Navigation Hierarchies section, select the field or fields you want to display in the navigation hierarchy and then click Add.
  5. By default, Folders are automatically displayed in the navigation hierarchy. If you do not want folders to display, select Folders, and then click Remove.
  6. Repeat step 4 to add additional fields.
  7. In the Configure Key Filters section, select the fields you want to add as Key Filters, and then click Add.
  8. In the Configure automatic column indexing for this list, specify whether you want to automatically create indices on this list to increase the performance of the queries that users will perform when they use the Navigation Hierarchy and Key Filter columns you've specified. It is recommended that you select the option Automatically manage column indices on this list.
  9. Click OK.

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Related tasks

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Applies to:
SharePoint Online for enterprises, SharePoint Server 2010