Where’s my Office 365 Retention Label applied?

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If your organization is using the Retention label feature in the Security & Compliance center of Office 365, you will have labels applied to content in numerous locations across your tenant. How can you see where the retention label has been applied?

Quick answer? Content search! Here’s how…

When you publish a retention label to a policy, you must select the location(s) you want it published to. You can either publish it to all locations or specific ones.



Once a label is published, information workers in your organization can apply it to content manually or it may be set as a default for libraries or folders. Depending on where the label has been published, content tagged with the label can be spread across many locations and workloads. To determine where a retention label has been applied to specific content, use the Content search feature within the Security & Compliance Center.

Within SharePoint, you can leverage the managed property ComplianceTag to search for content tagged with a specific retention label with this search query:

ComplianceTag:”Your label name

… however this will ONLY return results from SharePoint sites and Office 365 Group sites you have access to and will not include Exchange email and OneDrive accounts. Because retention labels can be applied to all these locations, you need to use Content search to get a complete picture of everywhere the label is applied.

Content Search

To use Content search, create a new search and filter on the retention label by clicking Add conditions and select Compliance tag (image). A key thing to notice about this condition is the Group it’s associated with, Common. This means the Compliance tag property is found across all locations (Exchange email, OneDrive accounts, SharePoint sites, and Office 365 Groups) which makes sense since retention labels can be published to all those locations!


Search Results

I’ve applied a test retention label, Joanne Label 3, to content in Exchange email, my OneDrive account, a SharePoint site, and an Office 365 Group site. The content search finds the labeled content across all locations:


If required, you can also target your search to specific locations, however to ensure you find all content with the label applied across your tenant, select All locations.

Thanks for reading.



  1. I tried this for E-Mail Messages and the behavior ist strange:
    When I use “equals any of” with the tag “mytag” it works correctly. When I use “equals none of” with the tag “mytag”, I get also the tagged content in the results.
    Do you know something about that behavior?

    1. Hi Tom, That sounds like a bug to me. I’m not aware of this behavior. I would open up a ticket with Microsoft on this one.

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