I apologize for the simple question but have been curious about this and haven't found an answer elsewhere.

Does SharePoint actually append the file itself with the metadata added in SharePoint, or is this simply associated data stored in SharePoint (XML/SQL)?

That is to say, if I add metadata to a document in SharePoint, download the document and add it to another SharePoint site, will that metadata be recognized by the new SharePoint site?


2 Answers 2


Office 2010 document store their SharePoint metadata inside the file (which is in fact a zipped XML document).

If you move the document from one site to another, if the same columns exist in the new site the values will be preserved (for Office 2010 documents). For non-Office 2010 documents, the metadata lives in SharePoint's content database only (unless you have specific add-ons to transport it).

  • Storing meta data in files also works for *.html files. It does not work for *.md, *.svg, *.xml, *.json, *.pdf, *.txt, ... In order to test it, I synced a document library with a local folder, using the sync feature. Then I a) created some files, b) assigned meta data to them, c) created a copy of the files and d) checked if the meta data is shown for the new files. Related question on how to store metadata in markdown files: stackoverflow.com/questions/77713086/…
    – Stefan
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 9:02

Document (item) metadata is stored in the content database. If you download the file, the metadata doesn't come along for the ride.

Not only will the metadata not transfer to another site, if you have a different content type defined in the new site this new document could have completely different metadata (fields as opposed to the data itself).

There are 3rd party migration tools that will migrate documents and their metadata.

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