View Full Version : Using Labels to Organise Files in Mac OS X

16th August 2010, 02:22 PM
<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/standout-file3.png"><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-8603" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/standout-file3.png" alt="Labels can make files stand out in the crowd" width="252" height="132" /></a>Since the days of System 7, the Finder has had Labels. Back then, they were found worthy of their own menu, but are now somewhat less prominent. The humble label is often overlooked, but can be put to good use. Its a great way to make important files stand out, or just categorise your movies and pictures.<!--more-->

Out of the box, labels are named after their colour - but this can be configured in the Finder Preferences window. More useful names might be:
<li>For Deletion</li>
<li>In Progress</li>
<li>For Review</li>
<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/labels1.png"><img class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-8759" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/labels1-150x150.png" alt="" width="150" height="150" /></a>Depending on what kind of files you work with, you might prefer to use genre names, like 'Comedy' and 'Drama'.

Once you've got some label names set up, its time to start using them. Labels can be set several different ways. Start by selecting a file, folder or application. Then you can:
<li>Right-click one of the selected files and choose a label from the bottom of the contextual menu</li>
<li>Select a label from the bottom of the Finder's File menu</li>
<li>Click the Tasks button un the Finder window (the one with the cog icon) and select a label from the bottom of the menu</li>
A Spotlight search can show you all files with a particular label. In the Spotlight menu, just type: label:1

Spotlight doesn't recognise the label names, so it numbers them:
<li>0 - None</li>
<li>1 - Gray</li>
<li>2 - Green</li>
<li>3 - Purple</li>
<li>4 - Blue</li>
<li>5 - Yellow</li>
<li>6 - Red</li>
<li>7 - Orange</li>
<img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-8760 alignright" style="margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 4px;" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/label-search-150x150.png" alt="" width="150" height="150" />

Substitute the label number, and you'll only see results with that label. If you prefer, you can add the label to the search criteria from a search window. File Label isn't in the criteria list by default, but by selecting Custom from the criteria type menu, you can add it in. If you like, check the box to make it appear in the criteria menu.

Using labels is a great way to manage downloaded episodes of your favourite TV shows. I like to label mine as I watch them so I know where I'm up to. Smart Folders can make provide some useful functionality if you do this.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/smartfolder-labels.png"><img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-8764" style="margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 4px;" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/smartfolder-labels-300x33.png" alt="" width="300" height="33" /></a>For example, create a Smart Folder called "Unviewed Movies" that shows only movie files without labels on that particular hard drive (see image above). Once you've watched the video, label it 'Complete'. Another Smart Folder can show only movies labeled 'Complete', which makes the process of archiving them and/or deleting them much easier - you just open the Smart Folder then drag everything over to a new Burn Folder. Click Burn, then either delete the files, or just mark them as 'Archived' so you know they've already been burned to DVD. If you start running out of disk space down the track, you can search your Mac for files you've labeled 'Archived' and start deleting them.

Despite only being a minor feature of the Finder, labels are handy to have - so go out and colorise your files today!
<h4><em>What other uses for labels have you come up with?</em></h4>

16th August 2010, 02:38 PM
Finder labels are the bee's knee's!

16th August 2010, 02:43 PM
Labels are pretty essential for my BT workflow - I use them to make sure Hazel only files away one copy of any TV show to my NAS, while the original remains to be seeded.

16th August 2010, 03:03 PM
Labels are awesome. For me:

Red = important
Green = completed
Purple = special
Grey = can be thrown away

The perfect way to make a file stand out without changing the name. Very useful for web work, where you can't change the names but need some files to be noticed.

16th August 2010, 03:39 PM
I label games and have a Smart Folder in the side bar for easy access, pretty cool ;)

16th August 2010, 04:36 PM
I used to use them but after a while i was sick of the colours and i kept forgetting to colour everything, might try it again one day but probably not.