I’ve written at length about putting metadata to good use on OS X. There are many benefits to ‘tagging’ files, but topping the list are probably quick retrieval of files, and more intelligent storage methodologies. But the features I’ve put together on the topic have been aimed a little more at the advanced user, leaving the non power users a bit behind – likely because I lean so heavily on Quicksilver to execute my tagging workflow. So I wanted to do a ‘lite’ post about metadata with the newer user in mind.
Apple offers the means to get your tag on within OS X, no third party apps required. The trick however is making it viable to use on a regular basis. To do this, I highly recommend 2 pieces of software to help you on your way to tagging-bliss:
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The most logical point in time to add a tag to a file’s metadata is when you save it. DFX gives you that ability, which is so much more intuitive than having to locate the file after the fact, and append its Spotlight Comments. One better, is that DFX will even remember your recent tags so you can select them from a drop down rather than retyping, and potentially creating a one-off rather than adding to a single list of tags. (This last comment gets much more into the methodology that I cover in depth, here.) DFX does a lot of other cool and useful stuff too, but that’s outside the scope of this commentary.
In this internet age, it’s entirely possible that you’re downloading more files than you’re creating, so DFX’s at-save-time capabilities don’t help quite as much. Enter TagBot. A quick access palette interface makes it easy to drag/drop files onto the tags you wish to apply to your file’s metadata. Better yet, is the ability to see at a glance, how many files are associated with any given tag. Double-clicking a tag brings up a Smart Search window showing you all your like-tagged files, wherever they reside on your system. A quick screencast demo can be found here.
So while Apple will get you there, they don’t currently make it all that easy. (My fingers are crossed that they fix this in Leopard.) For now though, these couple tools can propel you easily into a solid practice of tagging your files for quick and convenient access and storage.