How to map folder names to SharePoint metadata columns with ShareGate

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Wondering about the benefits of only using a SharePoint folder name vs metadata with regards to search? We explain why SharePoint Online metadata is king, and walk you through how to map folder names to SharePoint metadata columns with ShareGate.

The setting of SharePoint metadata is, unfortunately, something that users tend to skip oh too often… Properly configured metadata will give you great search abilities in your SharePoint environment, thus making it much easier to find what you’re looking for.

With ShareGate, you can easily export existing SharePoint metadata to an Excel sheet to make changes to all your documents’ metadata, and will even suggest potential metadata that can be applied in bulk using basic Excel formulas. Helping you leverage the power of properly-configured metadata is just one way that ShareGate can help you simplify your SharePoint administration routine.


SharePoint folder name vs metadata

For a long long time, metadata wasn’t the norm, which had users resort to other stratagems to identify their files.

Some people may recognize that kind of complex folder hierarchy here:

File System Folder Hierarchy before migration

Without metadata, folders were, and still are, a great way to describe the purpose of the files they contain. But this method is overkill once you switch to SharePoint because there’s a basic feature called “Metadata”. Folders are no longer needed! Yeah!

Now the question everyone asks: How can I assign my folder names to my SharePoint columns? And it’s a fair point. You’ve got all those files neatly sorted in folders you could import as-is to SharePoint, and giving them SharePoint metadata one-by-one is out of question. Well, the answer is simple: Just use ShareGate!


SharePoint Online folder metadata: Use case

I’ll show you a basic use case: I have a folder hierarchy that represents the country, the state, and the city in which I have documents for each city.

Original Folder hierarchy in Excel

In SharePoint, I’ve created a document library with 3 columns for the country, the state and the city.

Destination Document Library

If you download ShareGate and use the Copy SharePoint content feature in the Copy tab, you’ll be able to select your folder hierarchy and click on the Excel export functionality (the Export metadata button):

Export metadata button.

The exported file will let you fill in the SharePoint metadata manually for all your documents. ShareGate suggests potential metadata at the end of each row that can be massively applied as metadata with basic Excel formulas.

Here’s what the suggested metadata will look like:

Suggested Metadata in Excel

You get:

  1. The file name or folder name
  2. The parent folder name
  3. Every part of the full file path

You still want to fill in the country values. To do so, just put the formula =IF(R3>0,R3,””) and apply it to all rows. Don’t forget the IF condition when referring another cell if you don’t want to get a zero instead of a blank cell.

Map Folder Names to SharePoint Columns

You then re-apply the same process to the “State” and “City” columns. Once you’re done, just re-import the Excel sheet using ShareGate, and that’s it!

Here’s the end result in SharePoint:

Destination Document Library after migration

You’ve got all the subcategories you had with your folders and allows you to assign as many more SharePoint metadata you could find use to. ShareGate also enables you to bulk-edit SharePoint Metadata once your files are in SharePoint or Office 365.

Now tell me, what use do you make of those SharePoint metadata?


If you haven’t tried our popular SharePoint administration tool yet, what are you waiting for? ShareGate’s UI isn’t just just simple and intuitive—it’s actually pleasant to use (really!).

Migrate to SharePoint or Microsoft 365 quickly and easily with unlimited data and custom reporting. And effortlessly reorganize and restructure your content until it’s exactly how you want it.

Save time and migrate with total peace of mind, then get back to business as usual. See for yourself with a free, full-featured 15-day trial.

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