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Sunday, June 16, 2013

File Tagging in OS X now-what are some of your options?

Apple talked about these three features coming in OS X 10.9 Mavericks at WWDC 2013: Finder tabs, systemwide tagging, and real multiple monitor support.

Finder tabs? I’m sure power users have wanted Apple to natively implement it in the Finder. In the meantime, they have gone out and bought Finder supplements & replacements. They have bought TotalFinder, which adds tabs, dual pane mode, and cut & paste between folders for $18.00 after a trial period. They have bought Pathfinder, which is the reference for any program aiming to improve on the Finder. I use Pathfinder and I highly recommend it. Just chock-full of features, including OpenMeta tagging.

If you want a free upgrade to your Mac, you can try out Tran Ky Nam’s XtraFinder.

As for multiple monitor support, I haven’t used multiple monitors with my Macs that often to offer a comment.

Now to tagging. Apple has already implemented support for finding OpenMeta tags into Spotlight.


They just haven’t implemented support for adding tags to files and folders into OS X. Several 3rd party applications do give you the option to add tags. I will discuss the free app Tagit from Ironic Software and the paid ($34.95) app Default Folder X.



Tagit lets you add tags to files and then search for those tagged files. That’s it. Ironic Software has additional paid apps for tagging files and searching for them. Tagit, though, may suffice for your requirements.

You tag files by starting on the app. You next drag the file(s) you want to tag to the icon in your Dock. You should see the following window. You see a selection of tags that I have used. You can use the previous tags by clicking on one or more of them. You also can add a new tag.


That’s it! You’ve just tagged files with one or more tags

Notice that the tags consist of one word. If you place multiple words between quotes, such as “New York City”, you can have a multi-word tag. The brevity of tags is one thing that distinguishes them from Spotlight comments, where you can write multiple sentences.

Now you can enter multiple tags from the displayed tags. Tagit is nice enough not to overwrite previously entered tags, too.

Now to search for tags. You can use Tagit to search for files. You enter the tags to search for and click “Search”


Tagit serves as a front-end for the Finder. As you see from the window in the upper right-hand corner; the Finder searches for files with both tags.


So Why Didn’t Apple Implement OpenMeta tags back in 10.6?!

Apple wanted users to find these upcoming Maverick tags all over the place. Not just on locally attached drives to your USB, Thunderbolt, and Firewire ports; but to network drives and in particular, files up in iCloud. OpenMeta on the Mac won’t do that. Mavericks should.

So What’s the Best Alternative for Now?

I’m going to introduce you to Default Folder X. It’s a bit pricy at $34.95; but once you’ve used it, you’ll want it. It add capabilities to the File Dialog boxes that make you wonder, “So why didn’t Apple do this or that in the first place?!”

In Default Folder X’s File Save dialog box, you get five icons on the right-hand side. You want to look at the bottom, though.

I’ve highlighted the box that switches between the OpenMeta tags and the Spotlight comments. Just type the first few letters of a previous tag and you’ll see it appear in the box. If you’d rather enter a Spotlight comment, click the tiny double-headed arrow to switch to Spotlight comments.


Now at the bottom you see “Label” with a yellow oval next to it. This is Apple’s oldest option for marking files for further review, the Labels. You have many ways to mark a file with a colored label. You can do it from the Finder by selecting a file and (1) right-clicking on it to display a pop-up menu. Labels is a choice or (2) Select Get Info from the Finder’s File menu or selecting a file in the Finder and then pressing Command + I for the Get Info window.

  • Default Folder X gives you another option. Now you can easily tag, comment, or label files as you finish with them.
  • Summary:
  • It’s nice that Apple finally got around to adding tabs to Finder windows. If you want it now, you have at least three options for adding tabs to the Finder.
  • Multi-monitor support for multiple apps on several screens will please power users, who have used 3rd party solutions up to now.
  • Tagging of files by OS X Maverick will take tagging for the Mac beyond the limitations of the OpenMeta tag format. You can tag files in the (i)Cloud and on network shares, too.
  • You can tag files with the free Tagit app from Ironic Software, as well as the paid (and versatile!) Default Folder X.
  • Tom Briant
  • Editor, MacValley Voice.


  1. Just a note:
    There is nô problem to tag files or folders with
    openmeta tags over network. I do so every day,
    through a local network onto a network drive
    (via AirportExtreme) and through internet with
    several Cloud storage services (Dropbox, Bitcasa
    are just few exemples)....

  2. hi...Im student from Informatics engineering nice article,
    thanks for sharing :)




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