What are tags for?

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by kot, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. kot macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2011
    Please explain to me what this new feature "tags" is for :(? From the description I understand that you would want to group a number of files if they are related to easily find them later. But this is exactly what folders are and have always been for!

    For example, I'm planning a trip to, say, Australia. Normally I would create a folder in ~/Documents/Trips/Australia 2014 and put all travel-related files in that folder and then easily navigate to it to find all my files neatly stored in one convenient place.

    Now for tags, I am supposed to put a tag on all files which are related to the trip and dump them all in one big heap of otherwise unrelated files — all other documents in ~/Documents or probably even just in ~ And then search for them by tag.

    I fail to see how the 2nd way is better :-/ Maybe I am missing something?
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can of course use folders AND tags. No one is forcing you to use Tags. However, it is possible to use only tags to organize your data, and that's why it is such a big deal. It's a major change to file organization.
    The beauty of tags is that files can have many tags at once, whereas a file can only be in one folder path.
    With Smart Folders, you can then display any combination of tags that you want.

    I've used the following example a lot:
    Say you have files about cheese. And subfolders based on country. And in each country, subfolders for "Soft" and "Hard".
    Now what if you want a folder view of all soft cheeses? With folders, you can't.
    With Tags, you can.
    You could also create a folder that shows you all the Goat cheeses. Or all the English cheese.

    Yes, you have to setup queries to get the listings you want. But it overcomes the constraints of folder hierarchy. In a sense, the folder path of each of your files is also just meta-data, which the Finder interprets and displays in a hierarchical list.
  3. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    Another example:
    You could tag your images with
    1) what camera
    2) what lens
    3) what location
    4) what subject
    5) ...

    It gives you multiple criteria to organize your files.
  4. Martin29 macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2010
    Quimper, France
    I too was wondering about the utility of tags, but having seen how they work over the past few days, I'm a convert. I have now placed tags on numerous files, including those stocked on Dropbox and finding those I require is simply one click, rather than searching through folders and sub folders.

    My only comment is that there seems no way to add new additional tags (above the ten supplied with Mavericks) and no way to change the colours of the 'work' 'home' and 'important' tags, thereby giving more colours.

    Finally, is it possible to query for multiple tags with a single query?
  5. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    1. You can add new tags in the Save dialog of any document. Also, clicking in the triangle in the title bar will allow you to add more tags.
    You can change the colour and name of the coloured tags in Finder preferences.

    2. Yes. Create a Smart Folder. Or in Spotlight: "tag: Home tag: Business" or whatever.
  6. Beavix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2010
    What are tags for?

    Be careful, Dropbox strips out custom tag names, keeping only the tag colors.
  7. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Well, its very simple. Folders force your data organisation into strict tree-like structures. A file can be only member of one particular folder. But a single file can have multiple tags, they do not force you to keep a particular struct structure. Basically, tags allow you to maintain multiple categorisation hierarchies on your files. I tag folders containing my teaching materials, e.g. something like 'introduction', 'to improve later', 'homework'.

    Tagging is a well-researched data organisation system and there are lots of programs which utilise it. For example, Gmail. Strict hierarchical organisation simply does not work for many cases.
  8. Martin29 macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2010
    Quimper, France
  9. zen macrumors 68000


    Jun 26, 2003
    Oh! That explains one bug, then. I've been using custom tags on some files which are all in my Dropbox, but instead of displaying the proper name, it just says "purple".

    I also have some other files where the tags are randomly displayed - or not displayed. Again, these are in Dropbox.

    Have Dropbox confirmed this is a bug from their side?
  10. notrack macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2012
    Could someone please confirm ehether it is possible to search for moltiple tags in one step or not? Doesn't work for me, making it pretty much useless... :(
  11. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    Adding tags and changing the colours of tags are two different things.
    You CAN create new tags as I described. You can set any tags to have any of the 7 predefined colours. You can't create new colours, but you can make the "Blue" tag red or make all your tags purple.
  12. printz macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2012
    Tags are very much like the Windows 7 Explorer libraries, so in a way they're not revolutionary. In Windows you can right-click a folder and select "Include in library". The difference is that Mavericks also lets you tag files, assign multiple tags to a file or folder, is better presented to the user, but is less robust: see that Dropbox tag bug above.

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