Folksonomies in Mac OS X?

Tagging is growing like wildfire on the Web. Maybe it can work on the desktop, too.

Tagging is growing like wildfire on the Web. Maybe it can work on the desktop, too.

With metadata capabilities built into Mac OS X Tiger, it was only a matter of time before someone started using tags to keep track of their files. The Mac search system, Spotlight, provides ways to attach metadata to files that could help us find them much more easily than searching through our trove of hierarchical folders.

Back in April Nick Santilli wrote this piece at Lifehacker: Metadata as a ‘filing system’, explaining how he used both the built-in Spotlight features as well as the application Quicksilver to create a folksonomy for himself. Here is a snippet:

“I think it took me about 4-6 weeks before I got things ironed out to a point where it became effortless in execution and actually useful to me. Using a metadata filing system as opposed to folders requires a slight shift in the way you think. It’s not difficult, but it is something you have to work at a bit to truly acquire the habit.

For now, get thinking in a metadata frame of mind, because it’s the future of modern operating systems.”

Wow, that’s some serious optimism for the tagging approach.

Nick has now continued his investigation into the matter with this piece: Using Metadata Effectively in OS X

This use of tags is very similar to how people are tagging items online with services like There’s a lot going on in this space…and the operating systems are now starting to catch up. Word is that Vista also has a lot of metadata features, but since it only just came out the Mac is where the research is right now.

I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m anxious to see if it works.

(note, read down through the comments in the second piece: people have lots of suggestions for similar/alternative uses)

Published: February 5th, 2007