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Organizing files and folders with tags

Why tagging?

Tagging and tags are a fresh approach to categorizing and grouping things. Tagging allows the user to label thing with their own words. They don’t need to conform to keywords or categories created by somebody else. Tagging allows you to describe what you’re seeing in your own words, to imbue the experience with your own meaning. Tagging saves your time, and can makes searching for a specific song, movie, book, document, note, or whatever you’re looking for, much easier and faster.

Tags are personal things. Tagging something is your emotional response and not simply a taxonomic decision. With using tags, you have the control to define things for yourself, and on the web -- not only for music, literature, games and movies, but also public websites, data repositories and consultations. Tagging is a new indirect way of control to express your mind and to name things your way -- you can call it a form of "freedom of speech", if you want to go that far. Tagging is a power to create your own genres in movies, music popular culture, or basically anywhere.

Key functionality in TagSpaces is the ability to add tags to files and folders. In comparison to similar product, TagSpaces does not use a central database for storing the tags but rather offers to alternative ways for saving this meta information, which are described in the following sections.

File tagging

TagSpaces support two approaches for tagging files: renaming files and using sidecar files. Both ways are can be used on any file types and can be used on all supported operating systems.

File tagging method in the settings

Storing the tags in the file names

This approach uses the name of the file to save tagging information. As an example if you want to add the tags vacation and alps to a image named IMG-2653.jpg, the application will simply rename it to IMG-2653[vacation alps].jpg. File renaming is of course very controversial solution, with its own limitations (on some operating systems the file path length is limited to ca. 256 characters). Once embedded in the name of file, the tag stick there and can be removed only by file renaming. This makes the tagging "durable" and portable. The tags embedded in the name of a file "survives" synchronization across cloud platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive and can be read by TagSpaces or any other file searching software on Windows, macOS, Linux or Android.

Filename tagging

Note: Drawback of this methods is the limiting in file name/path length in some operating systems. Windows for example is limiting the file path length to ca. 256 characters, which is in general enough but could be a limitation.

Storing the tags in a sidecar file

As alternative to saving the tags in the file names, TagSpaces offers saving this kind of data in a sidecar files located in a hidden .ts folder. The activation of this kind tagging for files, can be done in the settings of the application as shown in the following screenshot.

Please note that by default the .ts folder is hidden only on MacOS and Linux operating systems, on Windows folders with dot in front of their name are not hidden by default.

After the activation, the application will created for every tagged file an extra file having the same file name as the source file, but with a additional JSON extension. For example after tagging some files in some of your file locations you will have a similar file structure.

    ~ location (with your files)
    ├── subfolder1
    │   ├── .ts
    │   │   ├── file1.jpg.json <-- contains the tags and the description for file1.jpg
    │   │   └── file2.pdf.json
    │   ├── file1.jpg
    │   └── file2.pdf
    ├── .ts
    │   ├── file3.png.json
    │   └── file4.docx.json
    ├── file3.png
    └── file4.docx

The main advantage of this solution is that the name of the files is not changed after tagging and there is theoretically no limit in the number of tags you can add to a given file. If you move or rename tagged files in TagSpaces it will take care of the sidecar file, which will also be renamed or moved in the appropriate folder. But if you move or rename this file in an external file manager, you have to move or rename the sidecar files by hand. The same hold true for the deleting a file from an external application. It will not automatically delete the sidecar file in the .ts folder. These drawbacks makes the tagging with sidecars less robust and future proof.

If you want to have the files located in the .ts folder synched with some cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive you have to enable the synching of hidden folders and files.

Folder tagging

Tags added to folders in TagSpaces are save always in the co called sidecar file. The file is located in the .ts sub folder of any tagged folders and is called tsm.js

    ~ location (with your files)
    ├── subfolder1
    │   ├── .ts
    │   │   ├── tsm.json <-- contains tags and description for subfolder1
    │   │   └── file2.pdf.json
    │   └── file2.pdf
    ├── .ts
    │   └── file4.docx.json
    └── file4.docx

If you want to have the files located in the .ts folder synched with some cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive you have to enable the synching of hidden folders and files.

Tag operations on many entries

In order to add or remove tags on many files or folders you have to select them first. This can be done in the default perspective, by holding the CTRL/CMD key and clicking on the entries with the left mouse button. In the list view of the default perspective you can use checkboxes located in front of the rows.

Once you are done with the selection you can right click on a selected and choose Add / Remove Tags from the context menu which will appear. Alternatively you can click on the tag button from the toolbar of the default perspective. Both places are marked in the following screenshot.

This will open a popup dialog, that allows you to manage tags on the current file. If the multiple tags were selected the popup dialog will not display all tags from all files, but rather will allows you to specify tags by name, offering suggestions based on tags currently in the tag library.

Dialog for tagging multiple files

The options you have here are:

  • Clean all tags, which will remove all tags form the selected files
  • Remove tags will remove the specified tags from the files
  • Add tags will add the specified tags to the selected files

Add many tags at once in the tagging dialog

It is possible to add many tags at once, separated by commas, in the dialog for tagging multiple files.

Tagging with many tags at once.

Tagging in file and folder properties area

Tags can be added in the file and folder properties area, by simple selecting them from the dropdown list or dropping the over the tagging area. For removing tags just click on the x-button located in tag components.

Dropping tag in the file properties area

Tagging with drag and drop

File and folder can be tagged also with drag and drop. Here is a list of the supported drag and drop operations.

  • Dragging a tag from the tag library and dropping it to a file or folder. This action is supported in the default perspective.
  • Dragging a tag from the tag library and dropping it to a tagging section in file or folder properties area. This action work regardless of the current perspective.
  • Drag a tag from a file or folder and drop it on another file or folder for tagging it. This action is supported in the default perspective.
  • Drag and drop can be used also in the tag library for moving tags from one tag group to another

Dropping tag in the file properties area