How to set up and start using Finder Tags in OS X Mavericks

How to set up and start using Finder Tags in OS X Mavericks

If you've upgraded your Mac to OS X Mavericks, it comes with a convenient way to sort and organize your documents and files with what Apple is calling a Finder Tags. In reality, Finder Tags is an expanded version of the Labels feature OS X has featured for years. It's become more robust, convenient, and easy to use. If you're new to OS X or aren't sure how to use Tags efficiently, follow along and we'll help.

How to create a new Finder Tag in OS X Mavericks

  1. Find a file or document that you'd like to create a new Finder Tag for and right click on it.
  2. Now click on Tags... in the popup menu.
  3. Type in the name of the new Finder Tag you'd like to create and then click on Create New Tag directly below that.

That's all there is to it. The new Finder Tag is created and will then be added to the navigation under Tags in Finder for you to use whenever you'd like.

How to edit, delete, rename, or apply a different color to a current Finder Tag in OS X Mavericks

  1. Open a new Finder window by clicking on Finder in your dock.
  2. Under the Tags section in the left hand navigation pane, right click on the Tag name you'd like to edit.
  3. In the popup menu you can perform tasks such as renaming, changing the color, removing the tag from the sidebar, or deleting it completely. Just make your selection and you're done!

How to access Finder Tag preferences in OS X Mavericks

A quick way to edit Finder Tags in bulk without clicking on them individually is to just access the Finder Tag preferences. Here's how to do that:

  1. Open a new Finder window by clicking on Finder in your dock.
  2. In the top navigation menu, click on Finder and then Preferences.
  3. Now click on Tags in the horizontal menu. Here you can edit tag names and colors easily and quickly without having to do it on an individual basis.

How to apply a Finder Tag to a file or folder in OS X Mavericks

  1. Find a file or document that you'd like to apply a Finder Tag to and right click on it.
  2. Now click on Tags...
  3. This is also where you showed you how to create a new Finder Tag earlier. Alternatively, you can click on an existing tag in the list.
  4. Add as many tags as you'd like and just click elsewhere when you're done.

That's it. The document or folder you just tagged will remain that way until you ever change it.

How to sort documents and files by Finder Tags in OS X Mavericks

The whole point of using Finder Tags is to make searching for and locating files easier and more convenient. Now that you've got your Finder Tags set up and you've been tagging your files and folders, the most important thing to know is how to search by Tags.

  1. Open a new Finder window by clicking on Finder in your dock.
  2. Click on the name of any Finder Tag in the left hand navigation panel.

That's all there is to it. Finder will then only show you the documents, files, and folders that you've applied that specific Tag to.

Questions and thoughts on Finder Tags & OS X Mavericks?

Let us know in the comments how you're using Finder Tags in OS X Mavericks to simplify your workflow, if you are at all. If you still have questions about Finder Tags or how they work, either drop a comment below or even better, check out our iMore forums to check out and start even more discussions on OS X Mavericks and Finder Tags.

See also:

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to set up and start using Finder Tags in OS X Mavericks

9 Comments

Well for the past two days I have been going systematically through my folders and tagging everything. I think it's a great way to make things easier to find. The problem is implimenting the system and then keeping up with the system. So I have decided to give it a a shot by tagging everything on my machine and then seeing how hard it is to keep up with the tagging. It's a great way to seperate things or group things together. It's great for my pictures where I can tag pictures of my wife and I, just myself, just my wife etc. So depending on the picture I'm searching for I know what tag to look under to find it. I think this is going to be one of those features that's great to use but not many people will use it.

I went through trying to tag all my games and quickly found out that some things cannot be tagged. It's like the tagging is read-only on certain apps. Do you have any resolution to this? Have you experienced this?

I want to use tags, I just don't see the use case that is orthogonal to folders. Obviously, multiple tags is something that folders doesn't allow, but I'm struggling with when I'd use that. Perhaps if I were doing freelance work or similar, it would be more useful. Perhaps tagging documents as "draft", "reviewed", etc. I don't know.

Note that I already use tags in Aperture, but beyond photos, and videos I suppose, I'm just not getting it. And I want to.

There's no way to sort order Tags. For users who embrace Tags, this will create a chaotic interface once multiple tags are added. Take Evernote (EN) as an example. I have more than 60 tags, but they are automatically sorted alphabetically, so finding a tag is a non-issue.

In addition to photos, Tags are useful for cataloging scanned items like receipts, warranties, etc. I'm moving all those files from my EN to my HD, which will reduce the size of my EN database and speed up the application. Tags are a great addition to the Mac OS.

The new Tabs feature is just ok. For a better and more elegant solution, check out Total Finder. I've been using it for years.

If I right click the file and remove the tag it is deleting the file too? Is this a bug or an I doing something wrong?

I've just started using tags and i'm wondering about a couple things:
1) I'd like to be able to, for lack of better terminology, "nest" or "associate" tags. right now i have tags that are about the same things as the same color but then I run into another problem;
2) The limited number of colors that I can use for tags makes it hard for me to tag things the way I'd like to. I can set my own color in calendar for different calendars, so why can't I set my own color for tags? Any thoughts?

I'm not seeing a way to change more than ten tags at once. Actually, you can tag more than ten things at once, but you can't remove more than ten tags at once. Any ideas? Am I missing something? Really helpful post, BTW... and well illustrated... thanks!

Great feature, hint you can drag and drop from the finder side tab to arrange them in a handy order, say your most common used etc. Though there is a lack of being able to sort them easily any other way, say alphabetically/alphanumerically, which is a slight pain.