How to see the list of all tags I have used

Oct 30, 2015 at 2:28 PM
First I would like to thank you for great application! It helps a lot in organizing huge amount of different file types, and it is perfectly integrated in Windows.

But I have a question, I don't if it is possible, but I hope you can help me here. Is it possible, when I want search files by tags, to get the list of all tags I have used, and then to click on the tag I am searching for? (Why I need this: I could forget all tags I have used).
I know that some others tag-applications have their own file managers where you are able to see all tags which have been used.

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,
Nov 3, 2015 at 6:25 PM

I don’t know of any way of doing what you are looking for that can be integrated into Windows. File Explorer will volunteer possible values for tags when you type an initial letter while editing the keywords field, based on other tags that you have recently entered, for some definition of recently, but it is not a complete list.

I have played with ideas for organising files using tags. For instance, I have a prototype which presents files in virtual folders based on the tags that have been applied to them, each virtual folder being named after a tag value. The idea is to be able to see all the tags, which files have that tag applied, and be able to manipulate tags by adding files to tag folders or removing them. I went as far as building one variant as an Explorer extension. However, I’ve never been convinced that I came up with enough of real interest to make publishing my prototype as open source worthwhile for me and the world. But I would be interested to hear any requirements or ideas that you might have.

Nov 4, 2015 at 10:18 PM
Thank you for your reply Dijji.

I think that your prototype is very good idea! I am someone who is not expert in computers (I don't know how virtual driver are working), but functionality of your idea is something what I am looking for. As I am trying to organize a lot of files. Having access to the folder where there are all tags as folders is good solution. And if it is possible to manipulate with folders (tags) it would be great. File Metadata + your virtual folder could definitely be the best taging system for the Windows.

From my side, I would fully encourage you to publish your work, but I am afraid that is pretty much all I can do.
I would definitely be interested to try it, and in that sense I could give my comments&suggestions.

Dec 8, 2015 at 1:27 PM

Somehow I don't have any problem searching for files with given tags - in the Explorer Details View, the column names have a little arrow on the right which can be expanded to show all the Tags used, for example. Then one or more tags can be checked, acting effectively as a convenient filter (not sure if this is a default feature but I can't remember enabling it - I have Windows 7 by the way, managing PDF files). I understand this is what WF was after but the virtual folders is also a nice idea.

However, I do have a problem with the Explorer "volunteering possible values for tags when you type an initial letter while editing the keywords field, based on other tags that you have recently entered, for some definition of recently" (quoting Dijji). First of all, when I enter a tag, I would definitely like those prompts to appear, otherwise I may end up with a lot of similar tags, which would then ideally need to be 'merged' manually. Now, I have noticed that sometimes I do get those hints and sometimes not, or not those that I would expect based on the other PDFs in the same folder. Even the "recently entered" rule does not seem to work, as I enter a new tag, save, then select another file and when I try to add that same tag it is not prompted and instead some other suggestions appear which I have actually never defined myself. I guess I just don't understand how this 'volunteering system' works exactly and I wonder if you have any comments on this matter? (although from what you said above this is probably something unrelated to File Metadata itself)

Otherwise, I'd like to join all the others congratulating you on the great and useful tool!
Dec 8, 2015 at 3:41 PM
Edited Dec 9, 2015 at 7:06 AM
Hi pablo78

All the behaviour you describe (the little arrow on the right, and tag value proposals) are indeed standard features of Explorer, with no dependency on File Meta at all. File Meta merely allows you to add tags and other metadata to file types where Windows does not support this out-of-the-box. My ‘for some definition of recently’ is just an indication that I don’t know the rules either: I too have noticed that not all tag values are immediately added to the list of proposals - maybe there is some background processing involved. One more thought: in Explorer you can search for tags using the advanced search syntax 'keywords:=tagval' to see all the files in the folder subtree with a particular tag.

If you or WFreude would like to try my prototype tag viewer, you would be very welcome to do so. It is not ready for publication yet, being at this stage a grab bag of features with no real coherent theme. If I ever do publish it will be free and open source; maybe your feedback is what I need to show me the way. To give you an idea of its current functionality, it looks like this:


The panel on the left shows a hierarchy of tags, and the panel on the right shows the files with the currently selected tag. The path at the top is the root of the folder subtree that contains all the tagged files. The idea behind a tag hierarchy is to support tagging at different levels of generality, so, for example photographs might be tagged using a country/city/location hierarchy. Then tagging the photograph with a location would also make it findable via the country containing the location. Files are tagged by dragging them onto tags, and tags are organised into a hierarchy by dragging them onto each other.

If you’re interested, let me know, and I will send you a private message to set up an email contact that I can use to supply you with an installer and a more detailed description.

Dec 9, 2015 at 7:58 AM
An additional comment on managing files using tags. The prototype I described briefly above is actually similar in many ways to Elyse. The biggest difference is that Elyse has its own database, whereas my prototype scans the file system. Elyse therefore scales better, but can lose files if they are kept in the file system and moved from one directory to another. Elyse also has more features, such as image preview for photographs. I had thought about achieving similar capabilities by re-implementing my prototype as an extension to Explorer, and showing tags as virtual folders.

Dec 9, 2015 at 9:30 AM
Hi Dijji,

Thanks for the quick reply and your offer to provide the Tag Tree Viewer - and yes I would be happy to be a 'beta tester' for the application so feel free to send me a private message with more info.

I like the idea of the tag hierarchy which does make it easier to manage tags. However, from the screenshot I'm not sure if it is also possible to display files containing an arbitrary combination of tags? (sort of the 'little arrow on the right' idea of the Explorer which I find VERY useful). I mean, the hierarchy will usually be interconnected - to use your example, I might want to display all the files for a given location incl. photos, videos, documents etc.
Also, that issue of getting a list of hints when entering tags is still bugging me somewhat - but I appreciate that it is native to the File Explorer. It would be good to understand it though and ideally import/export tag history etc. - some detective work needed!

Regarding your additional comment, I have used Mendeley Desktop which is a powerful PDF organizer and contains a lot of nice features - but somehow I was never sufficiently organized myself to maintain it consistently and this is where I find the advantage of your simple Explorer extension. Plus, it makes it easier to share my PDF library between my work and home computers via Dropbox or such like, without space limits of the Mendeley cloud (true, occasionally I need to do xml updating but I can live with that).

Dec 9, 2015 at 6:26 PM
I also had a look at Mendeley. As you may have gathered, I got interested in tagging in the first place as a mechanism for organising academic papers, and it is a very powerful tool for the purpose. But, like you, I`m reluctant to buy into the whole database thing, which is what led me to see how far I could get without it, building as lightly as possible on what ships in Windows. With luck, you will be able to see what you think of my efforts to date soon.

Jan 28, 2016 at 8:11 PM
Edited Jan 28, 2016 at 8:38 PM
I registered just to show my support for this app and it's potential.

I have music composition software. I have 200gb of sound libraries with stupid names. I mean a collection of synth bass sounds might be named something like "Chronic Deep". I have them categorized alphabetically but that's near useless. This tagging lib will be a great help. The virtual folder display would be the ultimate. Therefore, please include me in the testing of your virtual folder tagging organizering thing.

I think a Virtual Folder display would be best. Would it be possible to place the "root" of such a hierarchy in the Libraries section? That section has been around since forever, and I've only recently started using it.

As far as a data storage, there's a couple things here.

First of all, as a user I can tell that the windows search system uses some kind of cache, so a data store of some type may be available.

Secondly, while I can absolutely appreciate the goal using windows core functionality (file metadata), I think you can continue to do that and keep performance high by using a database (sqlite) as a cache only. In other words, metadata is used as the permanent store, but the database is used to build and display the tree. In this way the db is not required and the tags will remain with the file during transfer. An initial scan (similar to the program Search Everything) would be required to build the cache, but any subsequent usage could be written and cached at the time of entry.

For display in My Computer > Libraries > Tags, I would see it working where the top level shows ALL tags.
And then, using the Country>province>city example, here's a quick n dirty graphic.

This is basically a flexible AND search. "All items related to Cheyenne AND Wyoming" whether it's files that have only those tags, or other tags that appear with those tags. The deeper you drill, the fewer items listed.

The only way this could be made better is if the file save dialog had a tags field. To save a file, you'd have to enter a filename and at least one tag.