Keeping track of thousands of files on a Mac can be tricky. Fortunately, macOS makes things a little easier with a feature called “tags,” which lets you color-code your files.
A Brief History of Macintosh Labels and Tags
Starting with Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple turned labels into tags. Labels allow each file to have only one colored label at a time. Tags allow files to have more than one color – and you can also rename the tags from colors to other names for better categorization.
How to Color Code Files with Tags in macOS
Adding tags to files is easy in macOS. First, open the Finder by clicking its icon in your Dock.
Then navigate to the folder containing the files you want to tag. Select one of the files or folders and click “File” in the top menu bar, then select one of the seven colored circles in the menu.
You can also right-click a file and click a colored circle in the pop-up menu.
Once it’s tagged, you can keep tagging it with multiple different colors.
To quickly sort by tags, open a Finder window and scroll down the sidebar until you see the “Tags” section. Click on a tag (color) and you will immediately see only files and folders that match that tag in the current Finder window.
Very handy! But the fun doesn’t stop here.
More tagging options
Now that you’re familiar with tags, you can get more advanced if you want.
It is possible to rename tags in Finder by opening Finder Preferences (click Finder > Preferences in the menu bar) and click the “Tags” tab.
Right-click a tag item in the list, select “Rename,” then type the name for the new tag. Some ideas include ‘Photos’, ‘Money’, ‘Family’ or whatever you want.
Using this interface, you can also add a brand new tag using the plus (“+”) button just below the list of tags. You can assign your new tag one of macOS’ seven colors. Unfortunately, you cannot choose a custom color.
And finally, if you ever want to search by tag, open Spotlight Search by clicking the magnifying glass in the menu bar or pressing Command+Space. When the search bar appears, type your search terms and include a tag name (or color) in the
tag:blue format. Or you can just search for a tag name with no other search criteria.
You will immediately see all the results that match the tag search and you can click on any file, folder or application to open it immediately.
There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist. The more you explore macOS, the more likely you will see tags popping up in more places, and now you know how to use them. Tikkie you are it!
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