HoudahSpot icon

Other Uses for macOS File Tags

We have seen that file tags can be used to build or complement a filing system.

File tags can also be used to temporarily mark files. Since macOS has the handy ability to assign colors to file tags, such tags can be used to visually identify files. Both Finder and HoudahSpot flag the tagged files with colors of their tags.

This is particularly useful when shifting files around, merging folders, exporting photos to files, etc.

Screenshot: File tags in Finder used to mark files in a merged folder
Merged Folder: Files from 3 Different Sources

For example, I like to assign a temporary tag and color to files that existed in a folder before I started adding new ones. I tag these files with the color green. Once I am done, I can still see which files I had when I started: the green ones.

This is even more important when allowing Finder to merge folders. Tag colors can identify the source of each file in the resulting folder. This can help when double-checking the contents of a merged folder.

Screenshot: File Tags and Label Colors in HoudahSpot
File Tags and Label Colors in HoudahSpot

More Uses for Finder Tags

I clear such temporary tags once I am done working with the files. I can then re-use these same tags and colors for a different task. Today green may flag photos that have already been published. Any exported photo without the tag still needs uploading. Tomorrow green may be used to flag files from one source while red represents another source.

I have the default “named color” tags set aside for such uses.

There are many more uses for file tags. Next time you need to identify files, know the status of a file, monitor progress of a task, etc. think of assigning temporary file tags. Tags may be just the tool you need.

Setup and Configuration

Screenshot: Finder Preferences. Configure, Name, and Organize Finder Tags
Configure, Name, and Organize Finder Tags

Tag colors can be configured in Finder > Preferences > Tags.

Tags can also be renamed. The Finder will update tagged files with the new name.