Yosemite: A Take Control Crash Course
by Scholle McFarland

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Get Organized with Finder Tags

Mavericks added a useful organizational tool to OS X that you’ve probably overlooked. Finder tags let you assign keywords and labels to files and folders on your Mac, in iCloud Drive, and even in some third-party file-sharing services, like Dropbox. That means even if you prefer to litter your Desktop with files, a simple search can easily gather everything you need for a project. Finder tags aren’t much help with the files you already have unless you’re ready to put in some work, but they’re easy to add as you create new files. And as long as you’re upgrading your OS, why not upgrade your Finder smarts, too ?

① 	Whether you’re a neatnik or more...free form with your file organization, tags let you find files easily, wherever they are on your drive, iCloud, or even in your Dropbox folder. If you designate colors for your tags, a tagged file will appear with a colored dot (or dots) by its name in the Finder.

① Whether you’re a neatnik or more…free form with your file organization, tags let you find files easily, wherever they are on your drive, iCloud, or even in your Dropbox folder. If you designate colors for your tags, a tagged file will appear with a colored dot (or dots) by its name in the Finder.

When Tags Make Sense

What would you use Finder tags for, anyway? You could, for instance make a Taxes tag and apply it whenever you create a file that you’ll need when tax time comes. As your deadline approaches, click the Taxes tag in the Finder sidebar, or do a search for the tag, and all files with this label appear.

You’re not limited to using one tag. A file might include several—for instance, Urgent, Take Control, Yosemite Book. Use tags to identify projects, indicate time pressures (Urgent, Waiting, Finished), label Home versus Work items, and more. Tags are a flexible system that you can tailor to the way your brain works.

Tag Old Files Faster

Tagging old files manually is a drag, but Noodlesoft’s Hazel utility can help automate the process.

Set Up Your Tags

To set up your basic tag system before you start tagging, go to Finder > Preferences and click Tags . Rename a tag by Control-clicking (or Right-clicking) its name, choosing Rename “Tagname” from the contextual menu, and then typing in your replacement. Click the plus button to add a new tag or the minus button to delete one. Drag the tags in the list to reorder them.

② 	Go to Finder > Preferences > Tags to set up your tags or change them later.

② Go to Finder > Preferences > Tags to set up your tags or change them later.

Click the dot next to a tag’s name to change its color. You’re limited to the eight basic hues (including the “No Color” color), but more than one tag can share a color. If you choose a color, the tagged file will appear with a colored dot by its name in the Finder.

For easy access, drag your favorite tags to the box at the bottom of the Finder Preferences window. These tags will be included in the contextual menus. Or, add or remove tags from the Finder window sidebar using the checkboxes at the right.

You can also create new tags on the fly whenever you tag a file using any of the methods I explain next.

Tag Your Files

③ 	When you’re working on a file, click the disclosure triangle next to its name in the title bar to see an option to add tags.

③ When you’re working on a file, click the disclosure triangle next to its name in the title bar to see an option to add tags.

Tag from the Keyboard

If you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard, set up a keyboard shortcut for tags. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and then click App Shortcuts.

Click the plus button and choose Finder from the Application pop-up menu. In the Menu Title field type Tags… using either three periods or the ellipsis (Option-;). (In the past you had to use a proper ellipsis or this wouldn’t work, but Apple has removed that obstacle.)

Next, click in the Shortcuts field and enter a shortcut, for example Command-Shift-T . Now when you select a file in the Finder, use this shortcut to jump straight to the tagging window.

⑤ 	Set up a keyboard shortcut for tags and you can avoid digging through many a menu.

⑤ Set up a keyboard shortcut for tags and you can avoid digging through many a menu.

Remove a Tag

To remove a tag, Control-click (or Right-click) on a file in the Finder. In the contextual menu that appears, select the one you want to remove in the list of tags—the text “Remove Tag ‘Tagname’” appears below it.

If you don’t see the tag you want in the list, choose the Tags entry instead. A list of all your tags appears. (If you have a lot, choose the last entry, “Show All.”) Tags that are applied to the file will appear in the field under “Assign tags to ‘ItemName.’“ Select the one you want to remove and then press Delete.

Find Tagged Files

To find all files labeled with a tag, click the tag in a Finder window sidebar. Alternatively, search for the tag(s) by pressing Command-F to start a Finder search. In the search field, start typing the name of your tag. A drop-down menu appears with matches . Choose your tag to gather up all its files.

⑥ 	Type the name of a tag into the search field to see a drop-down menu appear with tags that match.

⑥ Type the name of a tag into the search field to see a drop-down menu appear with tags that match.

If you need to search for more than one tag, it might be easier to type their names into the search field. For instance, type tag:TagName and press Return. (Replace the word TagName with the actual name of your tag.) Then, for your next tag, type tag:TagName and press Return .

⑦ 	If you’re searching for multiple tags, enter each one in the search field by typing `tag:TagName` and then pressing Return.

⑦ If you’re searching for multiple tags, enter each one in the search field by typing tag:TagName and then pressing Return.

Create a Smart Folder

Once you’ve set up a search, you can click Save to create a smart folder with that criteria. For instance, I might create a smart folder that finds all files with my Urgent and Take Control tags. Smart folders look like regular folders, but actually update dynamically according to the criteria you’ve set, which means they’ll always include your newest files.

Tip: Sure, you can arrange files in the Finder by name or date added, but did you know you could also arrange them by tags? With a Finder window open, choose View > Arrange By > Tags.

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“To access favorite Finder tags more easily, drag them to the bottom of the Finder Preferences’ Tags window.”

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