Creating Retention Tags
Start course

In this course, we'll be taking a look at how to start managing your archiving policies within your Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. 

Learning Objectives

  • The basics of retention policies, retention tags, and Messaging Records Management
  • How to activate and enable archive mailboxes in Exchange
  • How to create new retention policies and retention tags
  • How to assign retention policies to a user’s mailbox

Intended Audience

  • Users looking to learn about archiving in exchange online


  • A basic familiarity with Microsoft Exchange

Once you have enabled archive mailboxes for your users, you are ready to create your retention policies. Before we create the actual policy, however, we need to create retention tags that we can then add to our new retention policies. So, we're going to navigate to the Microsoft Purview compliance portal and head into our Data Lifecycle Management menu. From here, we click on the 'Legacy Exchange' option, and we're brought to our retention policies. As you can see, we have our Default MRM policy, but before we make a new policy, we need to make our tags. So, up top, we click on 'MRM Tags', and we can see all of the tags that currently exist within our environment. While these are great starting tags, we still want to create some custom tags unique to our organization. So, in order to do that, I'm going to click on 'New tag' and follow the prompts. Starting off, we need to name our tag.

Generally, it's a good practice to name our tag something very literal, so we quickly know what the tag is for. Let's say that I want this tag to be used for retaining items for four years, after which it will archive them. So, I will aptly name this tag, 4 Years Move To Archive, and give it a basic description. Now I can define how the tag applies to the mailbox. Effectively, this is whether you want the tag to be a default policy tag, a retention policy tag, or a personal tag. Remember, like we mentioned in our prior lecture, default policy tags apply to anything that don't have another tag. Retention policy tags apply to default folders and personal tags apply to custom folders, and individual items. However, I want my  4 year and then move to archive to be my default retention tag. So, I will click 'Automatically to entire mailbox' and click 'Next'.

Now, I get to decide the retention settings. So, just like I defined it earlier, we need to set this to four years. So, I will set the number of days to 1,460, which is roughly four years, and then choose what action the tag will take. Since this is Move to archive, I will choose that option and then hit 'Next'. From here, I simply verify the information is correct, and assuming I entered everything correctly, I can click 'Submit'. Once submitted, it will take a moment to create the tag, at which point I click 'Done' and see the new tag I created in the tag list. Now that's how to create a default policy tag. But what if I wanted to create a new custom tag that automatically deletes items in the Deleted Items folder after a certain amount of time? Well, let's go back and create another tag. We simply follow the same process we just went through, naming the tag as Deleted Items 4 Years To Delete. When defining the tag, however, we instead click on 'Automatically to default folder', making the retention policy tag, and choose the folder we want to apply it to. Since this is specific to Deleted Items retention tag, we need to choose that folder and then hit 'Next'. Just like before, we type in the amount of time we would retain the content, which is going to be four years or 1,460 days, and then choose what to do with the content.

Since I want this policy to automatically delete the content, I choose Permanently delete, which will autodelete any content after the retention is up. If I wanted to be slightly more cautious, I could also choose Delete and allow recovery, which effectively is the same option, but provides a barrier of time between the retention policy ending and the actual deletion, allowing for an amount of time that the content be recovered before it's permanently deleted. However, since this is a demo, it's not a big deal, so I will simply choose Permanently delete and click 'Next'. Then I just complete the process and just like before, we can see the new tag in our list.


About the Author
Learning Paths

Lee has spent most of his professional career learning as much as he could about PC hardware and software while working as a PC technician with Microsoft. Once covid hit, he moved into a customer training role with the goal to get as many people prepared for remote work as possible using Microsoft 365. Being both Microsoft 365 certified and a self-proclaimed Microsoft Teams expert, Lee continues to expand his knowledge by working through the wide range of Microsoft certifications.