Tag Files in Mac OS X with a Keyboard Shortcut

Mar 10, 2014 - 24 Comments

Tag files in OS X with a keyboard shortcut Tagging files and folders in Mac OS X can be a handy way to help manage and organize the contents of the Finder, even if only used on a limited basis for specific projects. To get the most out of file tags though, you’ll want to get quick access to the feature. One way to do that is with the drag and drop tagging method, but an even quicker way for Mac users who are primarily keyboard focused is to use a keyboard shortcut for the purpose. OS X doesn’t come with a file tagging keystroke by default, but with a few steps you can create your own keyboard shortcut which brings about the tag option anywhere in the Finder.

How to Set a Keyboard Shortcut for File Tagging on Mac

This will set up a custom keystroke to use for applying file tags anywhere in the Finder:

  1. Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu
  2. Go to “Keyboard” and choose the “Shortcuts” tab
  3. Select “App Shortcuts” from the sidebar, then click the [+] plus button to create a new shortcut
  4. Pull down “Application” menu and choose “Finder.app”
  5. Under “Menu Title” enter “Tags…” exactly (that is three periods)
  6. Click within the “Keyboard Shortcut” box to define the keystroke for tagging files in Finder, in this example we use Option+Command+T, then choose “Add” when done
  7. Set a keyboard shortcut for file tagging in Mac OS X

  8. Exit out of System Preferences

Now that you have the tagging keyboard shortcut setup, you’ll want to try this out yourself so you can see how fast it is.

Tagging Files & Folders in Finder with the Keyboard Shortcut

Go back to the OS X Finder and select any file or folder you want to tag, then hit your newly defined keyboard shortcut for tagging (it will be Option+Command+T if you followed our example, but use whatever you set).

Tag files with keyboard shortcut in OS X

You’ll see a popover show up that lets you to select an existing tag or create a new one. This popover tag panel is keyboard responsive and uses prediction as well, so you can complete the entire process without your hands ever leaving the keyboard. Enter the first few characters of the tag to use to autofill the rest, then hit return to complete the tagging process. When finished applying the tags, hit the “Escape” key to exit out of the file tagging popover menu.

Done with a project, or just want to strip a tag from a file or folder? Don’t forget that removing tags is simple too, and it can even be done through the same keyboard shortcut trick outlined above. Simply select the file, hit the same keystroke to summon the tagging menu, and then hit the delete key followed by Return to complete the tag removal.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed


    Nicely done — thanks for the really useful tips & tricks.
    Keep up the great work.

  2. iRu says:

    Funny nobody said this before, but this didn’t work for me until I left a space between “Tags” and the three periods.
    Took me a moment to figure this out…
    Thanks though!

  3. ark says:

    doesnt work on Mavericks, even with the three …

    just doesnt work

  4. lameas says:

    this is really lame, so typical of Mac OSX
    I want to tag files directly like this :
    Ctrl+Shift+G = tag as green

  5. Meow says:

    On El Capitan use “Tags …” with a space between the word “tags” and the 3 points “…”.

    It does not work otherwise

    • Vyktaurius says:

      I’m running El Capitan 10.11.3 (15D21) (French version) and “Tags…” is working well.
      Surely depends on the language of the OSX… and the precise command written on the Finder’s menu “Files/Tag… or Files/Tag …). It’s simple to check it out :)

  6. Marc says:

    Hi the shortcut isn’t working anymore since the latest Sierra Update.

    Has anyone a clue how to fix this?

    • Vyktaurius says:


      Maybe try to open Finder and see how is written the command on Files.
      This exact text “Tags…” or “Tags…” or whatever should then be used as the Menu Title during the shortcut edition.

    • Markus says:

      As posted above:

      In Sierra (at least the German version) you have to insert a non-breaking space (option+space) between Tags and the ellipsis.

  7. Vyktaurius says:

    Thanks a lot for this usefull trick !

  8. Haleh says:

    This did not work for me at all. I tried it with and without the space. I also change it to com+opt+/.

    I’m on the very latest operating system. What am I doing wrong?

  9. Jimbrah says:

    It worked! This is really helpful. Thank you!

  10. Shirley says:

    An alternate way to add tags to a selected item (which I prefer) is to choose Get Info (or Command-I) to bring up the GetInfo window and then enter your preferred tag[s] in the appropriate space.

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