How To Find Your Files Faster with Tags

As more online web apps such as Flickr, Delicious, and Gmail adopt the filing system of tags over a folder structure, tagging is growing more and more popular as a way to keep hoards of digital files organized.

Tags, from Gravity Applications makes tagging files universally across your Mac a breeze. This review will look into how Tags can help you keep track of your files, and why you should be tagging.

Adding Tags

The best thing about Tags is how incredibly well integrated it is into the whole system; almost anything you could want to tag can be, right from within the application.

Adding a tag is as simple as hitting ‘Control + Spacebar’ from just about anywhere, when you’ve got something you want to tag selected or open. For example, it could be a file or folder in the Finder, some photos in iPhoto, a movie in iTunes, or a contact in Address Book.

Once pressed, a tagging window appears in which you can quickly tap in the appropriate tags. Any tags you’ve used before will autofill as you type, and there is also access to a ‘Recently used’ and ‘Favorites’ selection.

Adding Tags

Adding Tags

Sometimes this tagging window can take a number of seconds to load as it works out what you are wanting to tag, but it is usually pretty quick. Regardless, any time spent waiting would be less that what it takes to organize files into a folder structure.

Tag Browser

Tags has a built in Tag Browser to help sort and organize your tags if the need arises. Within this, you can view all your different tags, and view files by tag name. There is great filtering option, where I can select the ‘photography’ tag, and then ask it to refine to the search to only include ‘ski’ photographs by clicking the related tag to the right.

There is also an attractive preview section of the tag contents, however it would be great to have more viewing options as found in the finder, such as icon grid or Cover Flow.

The Tag Browser

The Tag Browser

Search Bar

Tags includes a fantastic search bar feature, which not only does a great job of looking for files corresponding to tags, but also (in my opinion) offers a far superior search bar than Mac OS X’s built in Spotlight, searching everything else in the system as well.

The Tags search bar has so much going for it. It supports browsing through files and folders from within itself; that is, you can have a look at what’s inside a folder or ‘All Results’ without having to open a Finder window.

Even more impressive, you can Quick Look files within the search bar, scroll through longer lists of results, and drag and drop files directly from the search bar!

The Search Bar

The Search Bar


In the Tags preferences, you can tweak a few important settings. You can of course change the hotkeys for the Tag window and the search bar.

In addition to this you can set exactly what you would like to be searched through and ignored, including letting you search the Library and System folders which Spotlight does not let you search.



Why Tag?

So why bother? Certainly, this system is not for everyone, but it is a very powerful and useful alternative to using an organized folder structure.

One of the main reasons for using tagging to sort your files is that you can organize all types of files into overlapping categories. For example, if you were working on a project that involved slideshows, emails, documents, and contacts, you could tag all of these with the same tag. This way, when you search for that tag, all of your files from every different app are all brought together for you just with a few keystrokes.

Another great reason to tag is if you love to throw all of your files into the Documents folder and need an easy way to keep them organized!


Tagging files is a great way to stay organised if a folder structure never appealed to you, and Tags is a well polished app that is very well integrated into the system. It is fast, easy to use, and has a brilliant search bar feature which I could almost use tags for alone.

This app is not for everyone but for those who can’t be bothered organizing files into folders or want to try something different, I would certainly recommend giving it a go. Tags is available for $29 with a 15 day trial free for download. Let us hear your thoughts on this app, and whether it will be changing the way you organize files.


Add Yours
  • I liked version 1 of Tags mainly because of its UI. Also, now that version 2 is out, it requires SL to run. Does anyone know where I can get the version last supported on Leopard?

  • Over the past two years I have tried several file tagging applications.
    In my experience, the time spent to set the tags for a big collection takes a long time. Even if you would tag only new files it will take time.
    That’s why I use HoudahSpot to search files on custom criteria. It’s fast and efficiënt.


  • Thanks for the great post. Any idea if Tags handles any existing tags, for example the keywords found in most digital images in the EXIF, IPCT and XMP metadata? Without this feature it wouldn’t be of much use and would require re-tagging all files using yet another type of (likely non-portable) metadata.

  • I have come to believe that tagging is the way to go. Yes it is cumbersome at times to have to tag things. On the other hand it is even worse to have all that data and not be able to find what one is looking for.

    I have been using tags for a few days and like them. I wish though that the tags in Yojimbo, Evernote, and Tags recognized each other. Still a lot of ships passing by in the night.

  • I think that PUNAKEA it’s the tool you should go for.
    Look for the review here in Appstorm, i tried several tools for Tags in OSX and i defenitely recomend PUNAKEA.

    I also recomend you to read this post

  • I’ve been looking for something just like this! Thanks a pant load!

  • FYI, Tags uses the OpenMeta ( tagging standard, so tags set through it are also seen by other OpenMeta compliant applications, and vice versa. There is e.g. a free command line tool available on the OpenMeta site which you can use to tag big collections of existing files if you are proficient with the shell / Terminal. You can use AppleScript or the Automator, too – Tags relies on AppleScript to interact with the applications it supports and can itself be controlled through AppleScript.

    OpenMeta also makes sure that your tags are backed up with Time Machine!

    So in my opinion tagging is the way to go, and Tags is my tool of choice. With the important points mentioned above Tags clearly stands out from the competition.

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  • I’ve been looking for something just like this! Tags are awesome!

  • I have yet to try this program, and I’ll give it a whirl. I previously used Yep! from Ironic Software, but stopped because I have had the tags on thousands of files lost when I’ve reinstalled my operating system and transferred the tagged files from hard drive to hard drive.

    Right now, I’m using QuickSilver and the File Tagging plug-in to tag files by using the Spotlight Comments section. It actually works pretty well. For those who use QuickSilver, try the following:

    1. Make sure you have the File Tagging plug-in installed. In the plug-in settings, you can change the tag prefix to whatever you want. I use the ampersand (&) prefix because Spotlight searches return more predictable results using this symbol versus the ‘@’ prefix.

    2. Select a file or group of files.

    3. Invoke QuickSilver and then press “CMD-G”. This will bring your selected files into QuickSilver’s focus.

    4. Hit the ‘Tab’ key and select ‘Set Tag…’

    5. Type the tags you want to apply, using a space to separate each tag.

    6. Now your files will have these tags embedded into the Spotlight Comment section under the ‘Get Info’ dialog.

    Tip: You can change the ranking of the ‘Set Tag’ option in QuickSilver’s preferences so that it is the default option when selecting documents and folders and such, making it quicker to tag lots of files.

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  • Henry, thanks a lot for great read. I never knew there is such function as tag browser, thanks again :)