Do You Use It? Finder Tags

Apple introduced Finder tags in OS X 10.9 Mavericks, as @jcenters documented nearly 10 years ago in

After some early experimentation in which I remember some dodgy behavior with Dropbox collaborators’ tags being added to mine, I gave up on the feature entirely. But tagging provides a separate way of organizing files beyond a folder hierarchy, and it’s fully integrated into the Finder and the macOS experience. So am I weird in not making use of Finder tags? Please vote in the poll and share your thoughts about Finder tags below.

How often do you use Finder tags?
  • Never
  • Occasionally
  • Regularly
0 voters
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Read Josh’s article at the time. Never found a use for them.

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I use column view. They don’t reveal enough there for me to consider them useful. Mail is the same problem, but there I can resort to shift-cmd-c (Show Colors). In Finder, I’ve resorted to aliases entirely for grouping things across the usual folder hierarchy.


I use them some, but they became even less useful when the tag moved to the little dot rather than highlighting the whole file name. The limited palette also doesn’t allow for much differentiation. If they still highlighted the whole name, more differentiation might be possible?


I love the concept and I use them, but they don’t sync across Dropbox to another machine, so they are eminently less useful than they should be. (All my work files are on Dropbox so I can work on any machine.)

When they work, they’re great – especially when you do things like constrain a Spotlight search to only find items that have certain tags.

I also agree with Will B. that they don’t display well enough in the Finder. I’d prefer if the entire row was the tag color.

The only variant I do use is color tags in the Finder. That I find useful for on the fly grouping.

I do use tags for files in DevonTHINK, which is my main information gatherer, research tool, general archive.


I use Labels in Yep, which I use to keep track of pdf files of receipts, tax documents, and misc. I also use some color Labels to activate behaviors in watched folders with Hazel. I don’t often use them directly from the finder.

I use tags all the time. The coloured labels in the Finder aren’t helpful to me; instead, I set a folder’s view options to group by tag. This works very well for me.


I voted occasionally but it’s probably an over-statement. The only time I use them is to mark a folder or file with a colour to suggest it’s complete. ie: I’m sorting old photo folders and will mark them red if I haven’t done them yet and green if they’re finished.

I tried using them to tag files and found the retrieval so unreliable I gave up. I think conceptually they’re great but in practise not so good. Given how broad their reach could be I think they need a significant investment in both time and regime to make them work well - if they actually worked.


Use them all the time at work (design studio and prepress operation for large printing company). Every jobs in its own folder, every folder on a server, every folder tagged by colour and initials. Column view. Makes it very easy to see who is/find by/group by person responsible for which of 600+ live jobs at any one time.

Also use them at home to categorise files/folders

I use them, but only in the fashion of the old “colors” menu. All my tags are named things like “Red”, “Green”, “Orange”, etc. It looked a lot better when the Finder would use the color to tint/cast the entire icon and the text background, but it’s still useful today just as colored dots.

What I would really like is the ability to assign an arbitrary set of tags to songs in Music. I currently use a comma-separated list of keywords in the “Grouping” field, which I use for various sub-genres, but it’s far from ideal, because the iOS Music app tries to use these strings to group tracks within an album - which is not what I want.


I use them to mark image and video files and also folders progress through processing stages in the Finder. As soon as I have more than a few files that I do the same things again and again with I assign ad hoc meanings to the tags. I do not rename them because depending on how many stages I have they will have different meaning. Green is always finished and red is not started, but other colors have different meanings based on the job.


Very much so, far easier to see at a glance.


I use color tags on files to lablel the ones I want to use or check for a particular project. I also use tags in Mail for similar things, like marking emails I want to go back and read when I have the time. Most of the file tags are used only during a particular project, but some of the Mail tags may stay for a long time if it’s Mail I will need later.

I have used them periodically ever since they were introduced, I do prefer to have the entire name shown in color, the dot isn’t as easy for me to see.


Can’t think of a reason to use them. It just makes things more complicated.


I use the colored dots in different parts of my file system in various and inconsistent ways. Sonetimes it’s just to call additional attention to a particular Finder item, to make it easier to locate. In another area, I use a different color for each week’s iMazing app update backups, rotating through the colors as necessary.

I used custom tags regularly when I had several consulting projects that shared numerous files. I rarely use them these days.
I still use color tags to indicate the most recent version of a document file that, for example, is being developed or has been finalised and older versions are to be retained.

The other method of avoiding duplicate files is the file alias feature of macOS so I can have an alias in a project folder, pointing to the original file somewhere else on the disk.

I have set up half a dozen tags but almost never make use of them. One tag is to show files that I want my family to know about after I’m gone but it doesn’t seem to function correctly, i.e., when I click on the tag in the Finder sidebar only some of the tagged files are listed.

I use them all the time. each client has their own tag. so when looking for a past job, its easier than hunting 4 raid drives for the old work. the tag, then what type of project in the title of the project folder gets me to it real quick. dont use them for personal stuff though.