Get Metadata activity in Azure Data Factory or Azure Synapse Analytics

APPLIES TO: Azure Data Factory Azure Synapse Analytics


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You can use the Get Metadata activity to retrieve the metadata of any data in Azure Data Factory or a Synapse pipeline. You can use the output from the Get Metadata activity in conditional expressions to perform validation, or consume the metadata in subsequent activities.

Create a Get Metadata activity with UI

To use a Get Metadata activity in a pipeline, complete the following steps:

  1. Search for Get Metadata in the pipeline Activities pane, and drag a Fail activity to the pipeline canvas.

  2. Select the new Get Metadata activity on the canvas if it is not already selected, and its Settings tab, to edit its details.

  3. Choose a dataset, or create a new one with the New button. Then you can specify filter options and add columns from the available metadata for the dataset.

    Shows the UI for a Get Metadata activity.

  4. Use the output of the activity as an input to another activity, like a Switch activity in this example. You can reference the output of the Metadata Activity anywhere dynamic content is supported in the other activity.

    Shows the pipeline with a Switch activity added to handle the output of the Get Metadata activity.

  5. In the dynamic content editor, select the Get Metadata activity output to reference it in the other activity.

    Shows the dynamic content editor with the output of the Get Metadata activity as the dynamic content.

Supported capabilities

The Get Metadata activity takes a dataset as an input and returns metadata information as output. Currently, the following connectors and the corresponding retrievable metadata are supported. The maximum size of returned metadata is 4 MB.

Supported connectors

File storage

Connector/Metadata itemName
Amazon S3 √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
Amazon S3 Compatible Storage √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
Google Cloud Storage √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
Oracle Cloud Storage √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
Azure Blob storage √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ √/√
Azure Data Lake Storage Gen1 √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ √/√
Azure Files √/√ √/√ √/√ √/√ x √/√
Microsoft Fabric Lakehouse √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ √/√
File system √/√ √/√ √/√ √/√ x √/√
SFTP √/√ √/√ x/x √/√ x √/√
FTP √/√ √/√ x/x x/x x √/√

1 Metadata lastModified:

  • For Amazon S3, Amazon S3 Compatible Storage, Google Cloud Storage and Oracle Cloud Storage, lastModified applies to the bucket and the key but not to the virtual folder, and exists applies to the bucket and the key but not to the prefix or virtual folder.
  • For Azure Blob storage, lastModified applies to the container and the blob but not to the virtual folder.

2 Metadata structure and columnCount are not supported when getting metadata from Binary, JSON, or XML files.

3 Metadata exists: For Amazon S3, Amazon S3 Compatible Storage, Google Cloud Storage and Oracle Cloud Storage, exists applies to the bucket and the key but not to the prefix or virtual folder.

Note the following:

  • When using Get Metadata activity against a folder, make sure you have LIST/EXECUTE permission to the given folder.

  • Wildcard filter on folders/files is not supported for Get Metadata activity.

  • modifiedDatetimeStart and modifiedDatetimeEnd filter set on connector:

    • These two properties are used to filter the child items when getting metadata from a folder. It does not apply when getting metadata from a file.
    • When such filter is used, the childItems in output includes only the files that are modified within the specified range but not folders.
    • To apply such filter, GetMetadata activity will enumerate all the files in the specified folder and check the modified time. Avoid pointing to a folder with a large number of files even if the expected qualified file count is small.

Relational database

Connector/Metadata structure columnCount exists
Amazon RDS for SQL Server
Azure SQL Database
Azure SQL Managed Instance
Azure Synapse Analytics
SQL Server

Metadata options

You can specify the following metadata types in the Get Metadata activity field list to retrieve the corresponding information:

Metadata type Description
itemName Name of the file or folder.
itemType Type of the file or folder. Returned value is File or Folder.
size Size of the file, in bytes. Applicable only to files.
created Created datetime of the file or folder.
lastModified Last modified datetime of the file or folder.
childItems List of subfolders and files in the given folder. Applicable only to folders. Returned value is a list of the name and type of each child item.
contentMD5 MD5 of the file. Applicable only to files.
structure Data structure of the file or relational database table. Returned value is a list of column names and column types.
columnCount Number of columns in the file or relational table.
exists Whether a file, folder, or table exists. If exists is specified in the Get Metadata field list, the activity won't fail even if the file, folder, or table doesn't exist. Instead, exists: false is returned in the output.


When you want to validate that a file, folder, or table exists, specify exists in the Get Metadata activity field list. You can then check the exists: true/false result in the activity output. If exists isn't specified in the field list, the Get Metadata activity will fail if the object isn't found.


When you get metadata from file stores and configure modifiedDatetimeStart or modifiedDatetimeEnd, the childItems in the output includes only files in the specified path that have a last modified time within the specified range. Items in subfolders are not included.


For the Structure field list to provide the actual data structure for delimited text and Excel format datasets, you must enable the First Row as Header property, which is supported only for these data sources.


Get Metadata activity







Type properties

Currently, the Get Metadata activity can return the following types of metadata information:

Property Description Required
fieldList The types of metadata information required. For details on supported metadata, see the Metadata options section of this article. Yes
dataset The reference dataset whose metadata is to be retrieved by the Get Metadata activity. See the Capabilities section for information on supported connectors. Refer to the specific connector topics for dataset syntax details. Yes
formatSettings Apply when using format type dataset. No
storeSettings Apply when using format type dataset. No

Sample output

The Get Metadata results are shown in the activity output. Following are two samples showing extensive metadata options. To use the results in a subsequent activity, use this pattern: @{activity('MyGetMetadataActivity').output.itemName}.

Get a file's metadata

  "exists": true,
  "itemName": "test.csv",
  "itemType": "File",
  "size": 104857600,
  "lastModified": "2017-02-23T06:17:09Z",
  "created": "2017-02-23T06:17:09Z",
  "contentMD5": "cMauY+Kz5zDm3eWa9VpoyQ==",
  "structure": [
        "name": "id",
        "type": "Int64"
        "name": "name",
        "type": "String"
  "columnCount": 2

Get a folder's metadata

  "exists": true,
  "itemName": "testFolder",
  "itemType": "Folder",
  "lastModified": "2017-02-23T06:17:09Z",
  "created": "2017-02-23T06:17:09Z",
  "childItems": [
      "name": "test.avro",
      "type": "File"
      "name": "folder hello",
      "type": "Folder"

Learn about other supported control flow activities: