Use the Finder's tags feature from the keyboard

finder tags using the keyboard primary

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The Finder’s tags feature, which debuted in Mavericks (OS X 10.9), can be quite useful. But if you prefer to use the keyboard instead of a mouse or trackpad, you may find it limiting. This video shows you how to take full advantage of tags without lifting your fingers from the keyboard.


One of the big new features in the Finder in Mavericks is tags. Much like labels in older versions of OS X, tags let you assign categories to files and folders, though in Mavericks, you can assign multiple tags to the same item. Once you tag items, you can sort files by tag, or even use tags as criteria for smart folders. For example, I’ve got a smart folder that displays all items in my Work directory with an orange or red tag – I call it my High Priority folder.

Out of the box, you must apply tags using a mouse or trackpad. For keyboard junkies like me, that’s a major limitation to using tags. But with a minor tweak, you can add full support for keyboard tagging.

What you want to do is create a new keyboard shortcut for the Finder’s Tags command. Open the Keyboard pane of System Preferences, then click Shortcuts. Select App Shortcuts on the left, then click the plus-sign (+) button on the right. From the Application pop-up menu, choose

The menu title is simply the word Tags followed by an ellipsis character. But you don’t actually type three periods to get the ellipsis. Instead, press Option+semicolon, which produces the special ellipsis character. Then type your preferred keyboard shortcut—I use Shift+Control+T—click Add, and then close System Preferences.

Now, to tag a file or folder, you just select the item in the Finder, press your shortcut, and then select the appropriate tag(s). You can do that using the keyboard, too: Just use the arrow keys to select a tag from the tagging popover, or start typing the name of the desired tag to select it, and then press Return or Tab to apply it. You can add another tag by selecting it and pressing Return or Tab, and so on. When you’re done, press Return or Tab again to close the popover.

The Tags feature still feels a bit rough, but at least those of us who prefer to keep our fingers on the keys now have an easier way to integrate tags into our workflows.

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