Tech Tips – In Part 1 I talked about how tags can be added to files on your Mac. In Part 2 I will look at how you can use those tags to become more productive. NOTE: The following examples are done in macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.
Using tags with the Finder
The easiest way to use tags is with the Mac Finder. First, we need to make sure that tags are enabled in the Finder. Open a new Finder window, then click on Finder, then Preferences.
Now select the third tab “Sidebar”. Make sure that the checkbox next to “Recent Tags” is checked.
Now click on the second tab in the Preferences window, “Tags”. This window allows you to select which of your defined tags you want to show up in the Finder Sidebar.
You can also drag any tag you want to add to the Favorites to the space at the bottom. I have not found this to be very useful.
Now close the Preferences window and look at the bottom left of the Finder window. You will see several tags listed and at the bottom of the list “All Tags. . . “.
If you click on the “All Tags…”, a new column will appear in the window with all of the tags listed. If you now click on a tag (in my example ‘:Star Wars’), then every file with the chosen tag is displayed in the larger window to the right. What makes this powerful is that it doesn’t matter where the files are physically located. Every file with that tag on your Mac and on iCloud, regardless of which Folder they reside in, will be shown.
This provides you with a very powerful way to search your entire Mac for files. If you have tagged your files, you will be able to find them regardless of where you have stored them.
More Power With Smart Folders
Using Smart Folders can give you even more power. Using the technique with the Finder above you can only search based upon one tag. If you use Smart Folders you can search on as many tags as you want.
Go to Finder ==> File ==> New Smart Folder. This will open a window like is shown above. Now you can begin to specify the search criteria for what will be shown in your Smart Folder. At the far right side next to the ‘Save’ button click on the ‘+’ sign (Blue arrow above). This will open a space where you can begin to specify the search criteria. Click on the ‘Kind’ or ‘Name’ button noted above (Red arrow).
A drop-down menu will appear. Click on ‘Other…’ at the bottom of the list as indicated by the Red arrow.
This will bring up a long list of search attributes. If you scroll down the list you will find “Tags”. In the example above I clicked on the checkbox to the right side so that Tags will now appear in the short attribute list. I also clicked on the line ‘Tags Tags associated with this item’.
Once I click on ‘OK’ that first search criteria will be set. I then chose ‘contains’ and entered the first tag to search for ‘:image’. I can add another search criteria by clicking on the ‘+’ indicated by the Red arrow. A search criteria can be removed by clicking on the ‘-‘.
Notice that when I click on the ‘Name’ button now ‘Tags’ (Orange arrow) appears in the list. I can now use this to pick a second or even a third tag to search on.
In the example above I have selected three different tags as my search criteria – ‘:image’, ‘:scifi’, and ‘:star wars’. The resulting 48 items shown in this Smart Folder are all files on my Mac that have those three tags set. These items can be physically stored in any folder on my Mac or my iCloud drive.
What this means is that as long as I am very conscientious about adding tags to files, it doesn’t really matter where I store the files.
I can then save these Smart Folders by clicking on the ‘Save’ button at the top right. Note that in addition to being able to name the Smart Folder and pick where it is going to be displayed, I also have the option of including it in the Finder Sidebar.
A further advantage of using Smart Folders is that since they are Virtual the same content can appear in more than one Smart Folder. This allows you to sort your files in many different ways without having to move or make aliases for files.
In Part 3, I will talk about tagged files in iOS.
See my other Mac and OS X articles