MacOS Finder Tags and How Photographers Can Utilize Them

MacOS Finder Tags and How Photographers Can Utilize Them

It’s not a secret how much I feel the Mac OS is powerful, and most often underused. Apple makes great products, but in my opinion they don't do a great job informing everyone of the really nice and polished little features, so unless you know, you may think it's just another basic OS. Today I want to talk about another of my favorite and useful tips for photographers, and that’s “tags” within Finder.

Useful in organizing files aside from sorted in folders, tags can be applied to files. An example of this is how I use reference images. Let’s say that I am collecting sample images for a new fashion shoot, I may wish to see fashion type images within my drive. But they may be found in many different folders, due to either a lack of really being diligent about storing a folder called "Fashion."

Let’s take a look at an example of how to use tags. We’ll take an image within Finder, and right-click and in the context menu, we look for “Tags” as shown here:

When we press tags we get a new menu that has recently used tags to just click, or a text box to add a new one.

You can use multiple tags per file, such as "Fashion," "Woman," and "Swimsuit." This way when you are searching in the future, you may wish to see all swimsuit photos, but they may not all be “fashion” swimsuits. One might be sexy, one might be fashion. So by adding appropriate tags to your photos, you will be able to instantly find what you are looking for, regardless of file location.

To search, popular tags are shown in the sidebar of the Finder windows. You can also do an advanced search within finder to search tags as well. 

I find I don’t use hundreds of tags, so my most used ones are a single click away on the side of the Finder. This is useful for quickly assembling a mood board, or similar.

There’s a ton of little tricks like this that I have used for so long that they are just second nature, and I don’t even think about it. Once accustomed to it, it would be very difficult to not have.

Best of all, these tags stay with the file, not just the specific Mac they were created on. So if you categorize some stuff on your MacBook and then transfer the files to your Mac Pro, the tags are intact and work the same way. It's a great tool when used properly.

Do you use Finder tags?

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David Apeji's picture

Thanks for this. I use them now :)

Bill Larkin's picture


Dan Lubbers's picture

I've been using tags for years on my photos with a Smart Folder setup for things like "Textures", etc and it makes finding/scrolling through images a breeze. I agree that Apple doesn't do a great job informing it's customers about all the features. When I tell my friends about this, they are usually dumbfounded that they did not know about this feature.

Bill Larkin's picture

exactly the reason I wrote it, it's so useful :)

borisschipper's picture

Tags and color coding of images I still need to process or the ones that are finished, a huge timesaver

Rob Mynard's picture

Imagine if tags would auto populate from keywording in Lightroom (maybe they do, I don't know)

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Remarkable, you present this as a Mac feature while it is also possible on Windows pc's and always has been.

Rutger Wierda's picture

Tags in OS X can be applied to any file. The screenshot you show on Windows displays the editing of IPTC data. Hence on Windows tags/labels/keywords can only be applied to image files that support IPTC. Try adding tags to e.g. a txt file on Windows.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

I don't have any txt files and I don't think anybody in windows would use these. All the files I would normally use, like pdf, word, jpeg, raws etc can be tagged. Not that I would use those tags.