Quickly Tag Files & Folders with a Drag & Drop in Mac OS X Finder

Nov 16, 2013 - 5 Comments

Tags in Mac OS X File tagging on the Mac is part of Mac OS X, but those who have been using the Labels feature to help manage their files in prior versions of Mac OS X will notice it’s actually quite similar. Basically you ‘tag’ a file, and then it becomes associated with that tag, allowing for easy file sorting, searching, and management. Tagging is easy to use, and what are likely the two simplest ways to tag files are during the file saving process, which we discussed with some other basic Mavericks tips here, and also with the hugely useful drag & drop trick, which we’ll cover next.

Drag & drop tagging may be the single best way to use tags from the Finder, because not only can you tag a single file just by dropping it onto the tag you wish to assign, but it allows for rapid batch tagging of huge groups of files and folders with the same trick.

How to Tag Files in Mac OS with Drag & Drop

  1. From the Mac OS X Finder, select a file, group of files, folder, or multiple folders
  2. Drag and drop the selected items into desired tag within the Finder sidebar

You will obviously need the Finder sidebar to be visible for this trick to work, if it’s hidden for some reason you can reveal the entire sidebar again by hitting Command+Option+S, if the tags themselves are hidden you likely just need to hover over the “TAGS” text and click the “Show” option when it appears.

Tag files by dragging and dropping them in OS X Finder

Super simple, right? This drag and drop trick is the fastest way to quickly tag your files and folders directly from the Mac OS X Finder. Once a file is tagged it will have a little circular icon next to it indicating the related color. Files tagged with multiple different tags (yes, you can assign multiple tags to anything) will have several overlapping color circles next to the file name.

Of course the whole point of tagging is that it allows for simple file sorting and management. Now that you’ve tagged some things, you can use the same Finder sidebar to sort and match files that match exclusively to the given tags. All you need to do is click on respective tag in the Finder sidebar to show all of file system items assigned to that tag:

Show files matching a tag in Mac OS X Finder

You may want to create or rename a few tags to get the most use out of this. That can be done directly from the sidebar, or with Finder preferences.

Accidentally gave something the wrong tag? Deleting or removing tags from a file is equally simple, you can just right-click a file, folder, or group of files, then choose the same tag to remove it.

And yes, Tags used to be called “Labels”, just in case you were wondering why some of this sounds so familiar to longtime Mac users.


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


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  1. rumplestiltskiln says:

    How about removing the tags?

  2. roko says:

    I seem to miss Tags all together in the sidebar, I do not see them and I have no idea how to activate them (yes, I have OS X 10.9)

  3. Grzegorz says:

    This is very useful. Thank you.

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