Manage the search schema in SharePoint Online

The search schema controls what you can search for, how you can search it, and how you can present the results on your search websites. By changing the search schema, you can customize the search experience in SharePoint Online.

About the search schema

When a user searches for content on SharePoint sites, search only finds what’s in the search index, and only shows results that the user has permission to see.

Search discovers information by crawling items on your site. The discovered content and metadata are called properties of the item. The search schema has a list of crawled properties that helps the crawler decide what content and metadata to extract.

Not all crawled content or metadata is useful to have in the search index, so the search schema has a list of useful types of content and metadata, called managed properties. The index only includes content and metadata from the managed properties. Examples of useful metadata for the index are the author and the title of a document.

Search comes with relevant crawled properties mapped to managed properties. For example, crawled properties related to author map to a managed property related to author. If you add a managed property, you must map it to a crawled property to get content into the index. After the site, library, or list has been crawled, users can search for the content and metadata of new, or changed managed properties. See Introducing Search Schema for SharePoint for more info.

Each managed property has settings that determine how users can search for the content of that managed property, and how the content can be shown in the search results.

You can create new, custom managed properties, but these can only contain text or Yes/No. If you need other content types in your custom managed property, then use one of the unused, built-in managed properties that search comes with. These managed properties can contain information in integer, decimal, date and time, double precision float, or binary format. You can “rename” these unused managed properties by using the alias setting.

For the built-in managed properties, you can change their mappings to crawled properties, but the only setting you can change is the alias.

Define which content that users can search and get results for

If you set a managed property to be searchable, the content is added to the index. This means that a simple query for "Smith" returns items that contain the word "Smith" and also items whose "author" property contains "Smith". If you want users to be able to "only search for items that have this specific author", set the author property to be queryable. Then, to find only items that have an author named Smith, users can query for “author:Smith”.

If you want to prevent the content in a managed property from showing up as search results, you can disable the retrievable setting for the managed property.

If you don’t want anonymous users to see the information in a managed property, for example who has authored an item, disable the “Safe for Anonymous” setting for the managed property.

Get better search results when you have multi-lingual content and metadata with special characters

When search indexes content or when it processes queries, it breaks a stream of text into smaller parts such as words, phrases, symbols, or other meaningful elements. These parts are called tokens. When users enter a query, search tries to find tokens in the index that match the tokens of the query.

For most languages, search changes text to lower-case, removes diacritics, replaces special characters, such as punctuation, with white space, and then breaks on white spaces.

Breaking on white spaces works fine for a language like English, but not so well for East Asian languages. Let’s say you have a document library that contains product datasheets both in English and Chinese. Each datasheet has a product identifier with non-alphanumerical characters, such as “11.132-84-115#4”. When search processes the datasheet, it detects its language, and tokenizes everything in it according to that language. So, the product identifier in a Chinese data sheet is tokenized as if it was Chinese text, and in an English data sheet the product identifier is tokenized as if it was English text. When users search for a product identifier, search tokenizes their query according to the language setting of the SharePoint site they’re on. If the site is set to English, and the user searches for a product identifier that was tokenized as Chinese text, the tokens might not match, and the users get no results.

Here’s how you can make results better for users: When search crawls the datasheet, it extracts the product identifier. Map the crawled property for the product identifier to a new managed property, “ProductID”. Enable language neutral tokenization for the “ProductID” managed property, and instruct users to search for product identifiers against the “ProductID”managed property, like this: ProductID:”11.132-8”. Because you’ve enabled language neutral tokenization for “ProductID”, search uses language neutral tokenization for the query and can find matching results for the query.

Get better search results when you have metadata with special characters

To help users get better search results when they search in managed properties that contain metadata with non-alphanumeric characters, you can enable the finer tokenization setting for the managed property.

Let’s look at the example with a product datasheet library again.

Users who prefer to quickly enter a query and then browse the results to find the datasheet they’re looking for, typically enter queries like ProductID:”132-884”. Because search breaks content for the search index into smaller parts than it does for queries, search might not find matches for these queries. When the query is tokenized finer, it’s more likely that there are matches between the tokens in the search index and in the query. Users can also query for the middle or last part of the product identifier.

Users who search for a datasheet and expect to only get results that match the full product identifier, typically write queries like ProductID:”11.132-884-115#4”. Finer query tokenization doesn’t make a difference for such queries.

Determine which title to show in results

A single crawled property can be mapped to multiple managed properties. Or, multiple crawled properties can be mapped to a single managed property, for example both the "Writer" and "Author" crawled properties can be mapped to the "Author" managed property.

For example, a document in a library can have a SharePoint title, a title in the file metadata, and the content can have a title formatted with the style “Title”. All these are mapped to the “Title” managed property. It’s the title from the crawled property that’s highest on the mapping list and that has a value that’s included in the index.

Auto-generated managed properties

Some managed properties are generated automatically. One example is when you add a site column to a SharePoint library or list. When search crawls that list it automatically generates a crawled and a managed property for the site column, and a mapping between them. Another example is when crawling finds metadata in a document you’ve uploaded to SharePoint. If there isn’t already a mapping to a managed property for that metadata, such as ‘Title’, search auto-generates a managed property. The type of crawled property determines the settings of the auto-generated managed property.

The search schema displays the name of auto-generated managed properties and their mappings to crawled properties in grey in the search schema. The search schema doesn’t hold the settings of the managed auto-generated managed properties. The settings are there, but they're hidden from the search schema. You can add mappings to other managed properties for the crawled properties, but if you change any other setting, you override the other (hidden) settings and the auto-generated managed property is converted to a regular managed property. If you decide to change an auto-generated managed property, review all the settings carefully, just as you would when you create a new property manually.

If you want to use a managed property as a refiner on the search results page, use the setting refinable. This setting is only available on the built-in managed properties. If you need to use a new managed property, or an auto-generated managed property, as a refiner, rename an existing, unused managed property (that's refinable) by using an alias. There are quite a few managed properties available for this purpose. They have names such as "RefinableString00" and "RefinableDate19."

For example, you create a new site column called "NewColors", and you want users to be able to use "NewColors" as an option when they refine on the search results. In the search schema, you choose an unused managed property, for example "RefinableString00", and rename the property to "NewColors" by using the Alias setting. Then, you map this new managed property to the relevant crawled property.

Usually, you don't have to change the default search schema for the tenant unless you want to create a more advanced or customized search experience.

You can change the search schema for the whole tenant or for a specific site collection only. The search schema for the site collection is based on the search schema for the tenant, so typically, you would make changes on the tenant level first, and then on the site collection level. Any changes you make on a site collection, only apply to that site collection.

When you change managed properties or add new ones, the changes take effect only after the content has been re-crawled. In SharePoint Online, crawling happens automatically based on the defined crawl schedule.

When you have added a new property to a list or to a library, or when you have changed properties that are used in a list or library, search has to re-crawl the content before your changes will be reflected in the search index. Because your changes are made in the search schema, and not to the actual site, the search will not automatically re-crawl the list or the library. To make sure that your changes are crawled, you can specifically request a re-indexing of the list or library. When you do this, the list or library content will be re-crawled so that you can start using your new managed properties in queries, query rules and display templates.

Top of Page

Delve uses managed properties to query the Office graph and to display content cards in Delve. For example, you can see managed properties like Author, Filename, ModifiedBy and LastModifiedTime on the Delve content cards.

Any document that a user can view or edit in Office 365, can also appear in Delve. Delve doesn’t change any permissions and users will only see documents they already have access to. Sometimes, though, you may want to prevent a document from appearing in Delve.

You can use the HideFromDelve managed property to hide a document from Delve. You can keep storing the document in Office 365, and people can still find it through search - it just won’t show up in Delve anymore. See Hide documents from Delve.

For more information about Delve, see Office Delve for Office 365 admins

Note: Not all options are available in SharePoint Online.

In SharePoint Online, when you create a new managed property, it will have some limitations. For example, the property can only be of type Text or Yes/No, and it can't be refinable or sortable.

If you need a property of a different type, or one that has different characteristics than what is available, follow the steps under Create a managed property by renaming an existing one.

  1. To go to the Search Schema page either for the Tenant or a Site collection:

    Go to the Search Schema page for the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    Go to the Search Schema page for a site collection

    1. On your site, go to Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. Click Managed Properties.

  3. Click New Managed Property on the Managed Properties page.

  4. type the name of the new managed property in the Property name box in the Name and description section. Type a description if you want.

  5. In the Type section, select one of the available options for the property:

    • Yes/No

    • Text

  6. In the Main characteristics section, select one or several of the available options.

  7. In the Mappings to crawled properties section, click Add a mapping.

  8. In the crawled property selection dialog box, choose a crawled property to map to the managed property, and then click OK. Repeat this step if you want to map more crawled properties to the same managed property.

  9. In the Mappings to crawled properties section, specify if you want to include:

    • All content from all crawled properties mapped to this managed property

    • Content from the first crawled property that contains a value and, optionally, in which order

  10. Click OK.

  1. To go to the Search Schema page:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema page:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. On the Managed Properties page, find an unused managed property. By unused, we mean that the property is not mapped to a crawled property: the Mapped Crawled Properties column is empty. See the Default unused managed properties table for more details.

    Important: To be able to use the property as a refiner later, choose a managed property that is marked with Refine.

  3. Point to the managed property, click the arrow, and then click Edit/Map property.

  4. On the Edit Managed Property page, under Main characteristics, in the Alias section, enter the new name for the property in the Alias box.

  5. In the Mappings to crawled properties section, click Add a mapping.

  6. On the Crawled property selection page, select a crawled property to map to the managed property and then click OK. Repeat this step to map more crawled properties to this managed property.

  7. Click OK.

    Important: When you have created a new managed property this way, the library or list that will use the refiner must be re-crawled and re-indexed before the property will appear as an option in the refinement configuration. See Request re-indexing of a document library or list.

  1. To go to the Search Schema page:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema page:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. On the Managed Properties tab, you see all the managed properties, the settings on the managed properties and the crawled properties they are mapped to.

  3. To view crawled properties and the managed properties they are mapped to, click Crawled Properties.

  4. To view crawled property categories, click Categories.

Note: Not all options are available in SharePoint Online.

Edit a managed property

  1. To go to the Search Schema page:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema page:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. Find the managed property that you want to edit in the Property Name column on the Managed Properties tab, or type the name in the Filter box.

  3. Point to the managed property in the list, click the arrow, and then click Edit/Map property.

  4. Edit the settings on the Edit Managed Property page, and then click OK.

  1. To go to the Search Schema page:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema page:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. On the Managed Properties tab, find the managed property that you want to delete, or enter its name in the Filter box.

  3. Point to the managed property that you want to delete, click the arrow, and then click Delete.

  4. Click OK.

    Important: If you delete a managed property:

    • Users can't search on the property.

    • A query rule that uses the property no longer works.

    • A custom web part that uses the property no longer works.

  1. To go to the Search Schema:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings Office 365 Settings button , and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. Choose Crawled Properties.

  3. On the Crawled Properties page, find the crawled property that you want to map to a managed property, or enter its name in the Crawled properties box under Filters.

  4. Point to the crawled property that you want to map, click the arrow, and then click Edit/Map property.

  5. On the Edit Crawled Property page, in the Mappings to managed properties section, click Add a Mapping.

  6. In the managed property selection dialog box, select a managed property to map to the crawled property and then click OK. Repeat this step to map more managed properties to this crawled property.

  7. In the Include in full-text index section, select the box if you want to include the content of this crawled property in the full-text index.

  8. Click OK.

  1. To go to the Search Schema:

    For the Tenant

    1. Sign in to the Office 365.

      Choose the waffle menu, and then choose Admin.

    2. Click Admin and then click SharePoint. You're now in the SharePoint admin center.

    3. Click search, and then click Manage Search Schema on the search administration page.

    To go to the Search Schema:

    For a site collection

    1. On your site, click Settings, and then click Site settings.

    2. Click Search Schema under Site Collection Administration.

  2. Choose Categories.

  3. On the Categories page, find the crawled property category that you want to view or edit.

  4. Do one of the following:

    1. To view which crawled properties belong to a category, and which managed properties they are mapped to, click the crawled property category in the Categories page.

    2. To edit a category, point to the crawled property category that you want to edit, click the arrow, and then click Edit category.

If you don’t want a document to show up in Delve, you can create a HideFromDelve site column of the type Yes/No. This site column creates a new crawled property, ows_HideFromDelve, which is automatically mapped to the HideFromDelve managed property.

Add a site column to the library or list where the document is stored

  1. Log in as a site collection administrator and go to the site where the document that you want to hide from Delve is stored.

  2. On the ribbon, click the List or Library tab.

  3. Click Create Column in the Manage Views group,.

  4. Type HideFromDelve in the Column name box under the Name and Type section, and then select Yes/No (check box).

    Important: Click No in the Default value dropdown menu in the Additional Column Settings section. If you select Yes, all new documents will be hidden from Delve.

  5. Do one of the following:

    • For SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Online, uncheck the Add to all content types checkbox.

    • For SharePoint 2013, uncheck the Add to default view checkbox.

  6. Click OK.

Mark the document you want to hide from Delve

  1. Go to the site where the document that you want to hide from Delve is stored.

  2. Find the document that you want to hide in the library or list, click edit properties and then check HideFromDelve.

  3. Click OK.

After the next scheduled crawl, or after you request re-indexing of a document library or list, the document is hidden from Delve. If you want the document to show up in Delve again, uncheck the HideFromDelve column for the hidden document.

  1. On your site, go to the list or library where you have added the new property and click the title. You should see the Library or List tabs.

  2. In the ribbon, click the Library tab or the List tab.

  3. Click Library settings or List settings under the Settings section.

  4. On the Settings page, under General Settings, choose Advanced settings.

  5. Scroll down to Reindex Document Library or Reindex List, and click the button. All of the content in the document library or list will be re-indexed during the next scheduled crawl.

    Note: This may cause a massive load on the search system, so be sure to re-index only after you've made all the changes you want to be re-indexed.

Related Topics

Overview of crawled and managed properties in SharePoint Server 2013
Overview of the search schema in SharePoint Server
Manually request crawling and re-indexing of a site

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