Working With Mac Finder Tags

Tags are a useful feature that has been around for a long time but with the latest versions of OS X, we now have the option to create our own tags. With previous versions, tags consisted mainly of color tags and there were only a handful we could use. We now have the availability to create our own tags and as many tags as we need.

In this example I have several reports for different campuses and I think I’ve done a good job of organizing them by giving each report a consistent file name. The problem is that I have 256 reports and the reports are in different categories of information. Tags can help me quickly sort and organize this information.




The Finder window conveniently has a tab button available. To activate the button all we need to do is select one or more files. Most Finder tags contain the default set of color tags.


Above the color tags is a field where we can provide our own tag. In this example I will create a tag for this report. Tags should be short and descriptive. Long tags can get cumbersome. Think of tags like key words or categories for files. After typing the name of the tag I’ll press the return key on my keyboard to save and assign the tag.


The tab box will remain open so we can add more tags to this document. In this example we’ll provide only one tag. To close the tab box, click once outside the tag box.


Now that I have the tag created, it can be assigned to other files without having to type the tag name. I have another file selected that needs the same tag.


In the tag box I see the tag available, so all I need to do is select the tag by clicking on it once.


The tag will be applied and I can add other tags as needed.


We can apply tags to several files at once. We can select files by clicking on one file, then while holding the command key, clicking on other files.


Once the files are selected, we can assign tags to those files.


In my example the files contain information from several years. I can use the years as a way for me to add another tag or category to my files. I’ll go back and select all the files that are from one year. One of these files includes the file with the parent guardian tag.


When I go to assign a tag to these files, I’ll see the parent guardian tag. This will appear even if the other files do not have the tag assigned. This will assign the parent guardian tag to these files in addition to whatever tag I choose to create next. If I don’t want the other files to have the “Parent Guardian” tag, I’ll need to deselect the file that has the parent guardian tag.


I’ll deselect the files with the parent guardian tag and I’ll create and assign a new tag, 2015 Reports, for the remaining files.


Let’s go back and assign the 2015 Reports tag to the file with the Parent Guardian Tag.


Now that we’ve created a couple of tags, lets learn how to use them. As we’ve been creating tags, they’ve been added to our side bar. I’ll click on the Parent Guardian tag.


The Finder will display all the files that have this tag.


Next, I’ll click on the 2015 Reports tag and all the files with the 2015 Reports tag will appear. Notice that the one file with both tags, “Parent Guardian” and “2015 Reports”, appears in both lists.


With tags I can easily group files for easy access. Tags can be easily applied from the button bar in the finder, but this can be inconvenient if the file isn’t close to the button bar. We can access the tags option by right clicking on a file.


The tags option is near the bottom of the contextual menu. Click on the tags option.


The tag selector appears below one of the files to be tagged.

Posted in Finder, Mac.