Tags for OS X Users – Finding Stuff

I have been experimenting with some tools over the past six months to help me get better organized and increase the chances I can actually find something on my computer. I started my exploration with a program called Together from Reinvented Software.  Together was a good place for me to begin exploring the set of tags I would use and to incorporate tagging into my daily work-flows.  The things I liked about Together:

  1. It did not lock my content up into some bizarro binary file that could never be parsed again.  Instead, it neatly organized all of the files you added to Together in your Documents folder.  Seemed like a pretty reasonable thing.
  2. The tagging UI was pretty fast and had auto-complete.

These aspects of Together kept me using it for a few months until I discovered:

  1. The tags themselves were locked up in some bizarro binary file format! That did not sit well with me thinking about years and years of collected tags. While the program does have some way to sync those tags to Spotlight comments, the author warns that it will slow the application down and consume huge amounts of resources.
  2. The application became slow and unresponsive – even though I did not have the Spotlight-tag-syncing, resource-sucking option turned on.
  3. The work-flow of drag-and-drop became too cumbersome and I wanted something more streamlined.

I continued trudging through my use of Together, when one day the MacUpdate Promo had an application called Tags by Gravity Applications advertised for steep discount. It sounded like a good fit – maybe too good to be true – but the price was right and was worth trying to see if it met the hype. What I liked:

  1. Your tags are not locked away – they are part of the file’s metadata. This should allow my tags to travel as long as Spotlight is around.
  2. Spotlight can search for the tags – try a search like: tag:receipt apple.
  3. The UI is lightweight and fast. It may feel a bit unprofessional (just a personal opinion), but it cuts mustard.
  4. It is integrated with almost every application I use, and thus knows what file I am trying to tag without some cumbersome drag-and-drop work-flow. Very smart and efficient.

I am glad to say that I am still using Tags on a daily basis and have built some Automator work-flows around it as well. And… They recently provided me with an update to get everything working smoothly with Snow Leopard. Overall, I am very satisfied with this solution – I am able to find things reliably.  And after using this work-flow for awhile, it does strike me that this should be a base capability in OS X. I do find some evidence that Apple is headed down this path if you try the following in Snow Leopard: Print -> Save as PDF -> then play around in the Keywords field. I am seeing auto-complete. Are you?

1 Comment

Filed under Personal, Technology, Tools

One response to “Tags for OS X Users – Finding Stuff

  1. Hi Lance,
    there is a problem though. The tags are stored als Open Meta Tags. Dropbox, which I use for syncing important files, does not support these. So I keep to Spotlight Comments for the time being.

    Regards
    Johan

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