Labels are a mechanism for applying metadata to Docker objects, including:
You can use labels to organize your images, record licensing information, annotate relationships between containers, volumes, and networks, or in any way that makes sense for your business or application.
A label is a key-value pair, stored as a string. You can specify multiple labels for an object, but each key-value pair must be unique within an object. If the same key is given multiple values, the most-recently-written value overwrites all previous values.
A label key is the left-hand side of the key-value pair. Keys are alphanumeric
strings which may contain periods (
.) and hyphens (
-). Most Docker users use
images created by other organizations, and the following guidelines help to
prevent inadvertent duplication of labels across objects, especially if you plan
to use labels as a mechanism for automation.
Authors of third-party tools should prefix each label key with the
reverse DNS notation of a domain they own, such as
Do not use a domain in your label key without the domain owner’s permission.
org.dockerproject.* namespaces are
reserved by Docker for internal use.
Label keys should begin and end with a lower-case letter and should only
contain lower-case alphanumeric characters, the period character (
the hyphen character (
-). Consecutive periods or hyphens are not allowed.
The period character (
.) separates namespace “fields”. Label keys without
namespaces are reserved for CLI use, allowing users of the CLI to interactively
label Docker objects using shorter typing-friendly strings.
These guidelines are not currently enforced and additional guidelines may apply to specific use cases.
Label values can contain any data type that can be represented as a string,
including (but not limited to) JSON, XML, CSV, or YAML. The only requirement is
that the value be serialized to a string first, using a mechanism specific to
the type of structure. For instance, to serialize JSON into a string, you might
Since Docker does not deserialize the value, you cannot treat a JSON or XML document as a nested structure when querying or filtering by label value unless you build this functionality into third-party tooling.
Each type of object with support for labels has mechanisms for adding and managing them and using them as they relate to that type of object. These links provide a good place to start learning about how you can use labels in your Docker deployments.
Labels on images, containers, local daemons, volumes, and networks are static for the lifetime of the object. To change these labels you must recreate the object. Labels on swarm nodes and services can be updated dynamically.