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Tags takes organization to a new level

The idea of tagging files as an organization and project management method has been around for some time now, and we've mentioned applications in the past (FileSpot, TagBot, Punakea ... ) which touched on some useful applications for the tagging method. A truly seamless, system-wide implementation, however, has been hard to find. Back at WWDC, Gravity applications gave me a taste of a new application which takes the concept to a new level. Tags, finally released yesterday, provides a hotkey-triggered HUD which allows tagging and searching from a wide range of applications, including:

  • Finder and Path Finder
  • Mail
  • Address Book
  • iPhoto
  • Safari
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc.)
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Xcode
  • Rapidweaver
  • Omnioutliner
  • Pages and Keynote
  • Quicktime
The list goes on. Basically, any application which can tell AppleScript what the current context is will work with Tags. Those that don't can also have their items tagged from Finder, which is especially easy if they have a "Reveal in Finder" shortcut.

Tags uses Spotlight metadata instead of the old Spotlight comments method. Files tagged with Tags are immediately indexed in Spotlight, allowing for searches and Smart Folders outside of Tags, as well as integration with other Spotlight-enabled applications. Its keyword storage method is directly compatible with Ironic Software's Deep, and the same method is planned for use in Leap, eventually. Ironic has actually just announced OpenMeta, an open source library for accessing and modifying this kind of metadata (more on that coming soon).

Read on for more on the concepts behind Tags.

The tagging concept, to summarize, basically allows a file to exist in many collections at once, as opposed to being stuck in one folder. Tagging can be used in combination with a folder hierarchy, or allow for flat storage and organization through search mechanisms. Tags allows you to classify not just files, but also web pages, iPhoto images, Address Book entries ... just about anything which would need to be collected to organize a project.

Tags also has a little bit of AppleScript-fu. A simple "apply" command lets you tag files from a script (or the command line), allowing Tags to be implemented in otherwise incompatible applications. This can be taken even further, if you're OC enough to hack away at it (I am). For example, I currently have a setup which allows me to tag web pages as I'm browsing, marking them for archiving in Together. When the script is run, it finds all of the marked files, which also have tags specifying their import format (PDF, Archive, Bookmark), and archives them into Together, removing the import markers upon successful import. This is the beginning of a Midnight Inbox-style system-wide inbox.

If you have a tagging system in place, Tags can import your current tags from Spotlight comments and keywords. The AppleScript command also makes it easy to convert any set of tags which AppleScript can collect. You can even use Folder Actions to auto-tag files, if you like.

Tags is priced at $29US. Gravity Apps has graciously offered a 15% discount ($24.65US) to TUAW readers, just use the coupon code TUAW at checkout. The coupon is valid until 1/31/2009. A full overview (with excellent screencasts) and a free trial download are available at Gravity's site.

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