Retention Tags and Policies – a quick how to

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Retention tags determine the actions of retention policies and therefore must be created before their corresponding policies

From TechNet:

Retention tags are used to apply retention settings to folders and individual items such as messages, notes, and contacts. These settings specify how long a message remains in the mailbox and the action to take when the message reaches the specified retention age. When a message reaches its retention age, it’s moved to the archive mailbox, deleted, or flagged for user attention.”


Using the EMC…here’s a quick example of how to make a tag and apply it to a policy.

(BTW, our example assumes that users have been granted the “my retention policies” role assignment as described in this TechNet article).

Let’s say a user who has recently been assigned an archive mailbox wants a retention policy that will move mail items to their online archive after 15 days.

From within the EMC, go to Organization Configuration  –> Mailbox


From the Action section on the right, choose New Retention Policy Tag


  • In the  Tag Name field, enter the name of the Tag (it should describe the tag’s time period, for ex. “15 Days to Archive””
  • In the Tag Type field, use the drop-down to set what kind of tag this is (i.e., applied to a specific folder only or available to be used on any folder within a user’s mailbox). In our example, we’re using the Personal Tag type
  • In the Age limit field, choose the amount of time – in days – that elapse before the tag/policy goes into action.  In our example, it will be 15 days
  • In the Action to take when the age limit is reached field, use the drop-down to choose what action the tag/policy will take when the age limit has been reached.
  • Note the Disable this tag button – this allows you to deactivate a tag without deleting it (for troubleshooting purposes, for example)
  • The comments field is optional


Click New to proceed.


Click Finish to complete making the tag.

Next, you’ll apply this tag to a policy.

Again, from Organization –> Mailbox…


Choose New Retention Policy from the Actions menu on the right…


  • In the Name field, enter your policy’s name (it should match that of the tag for simplicity)
  • In the Add tags to the retention policy field, use the Add button to select from the list of available tags



Click OK


Click Next


Here, you’re presented with the option to apply this policy to a list of mailboxes. We’re not doing this in our example (since we’re making a policy the user can apply her or his self to an Outlook folder) so we can ignore this setting and click Next.


Click New


Click Finish to complete making the policy


If you look closely, you’ll notice that the Exchange Management Console displays the PowerShell cmdlet syntax used to perform actions via the GUI.

We can do all of the above within the Exchange Management Shell .

Making the retention tag:

New-RetentionPolicyTag -Name ’15 Days to Archive’ -Type ‘Personal’ -Comment ” -AgeLimitForRetention ‘15.00:00:00’ -RetentionAction ‘MoveToArchive’ -RetentionEnabled $true

And then, tying that tag to a retention policy:

New-RetentionPolicy -Name ’15 Days to Archive’ -RetentionPolicyTagLinks ’15 Days to Archive’