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How to organize all your files using tags

Tags make life so much easier for those of us with massive libraries of photos, videos, music and other media. Why not use them for the rest of your files? Elyse is a utility for Mac and Windows that lets you organize and search for files based on your own concepts instead of hierarchical folder structures or guesswork.

If you've ever had to look for that old letter of recommendation or sample design work from years past, you probably either wished you had an intern or prayed for a miracle. Media sorting has been far beyond other file management in terms of ease of use and quick searching thanks to the power of tags. Now you can use Elyse (for Windows and Mac) to tag your non-media files as well to make searching a snap. Here's how to get started:

  • Download and install the free Elyse app. (Also available from CNET 
    Download Elyse.
    Download Elyse.
  • Fire up Elyse and then select "Database," then "New." You'll likely only ever need one, but in case you decide to create new ones, make the name memorable. 
  • Drag a file or folder full of files from your file manager to the "Browsing Tree" section. Elyse will automatically tag files with their folder and subfolder names, though you change or add to these later. Duplicate files don't get added. 
    Import files.
    Import files.
  • Click on a tag name to bring up all the files with that tag. 
  • Select multiple tags and then click the ampersand icon at the top to bring up files with all of the selected tags. 
    Search tagged files.
    Search tagged files.
  • As with most file managers, you can double-click on a file to open it. You can also right-click to add or remove tags, or simply drag any file over to a tag to add it. 

Elyse takes a certain amount of mental reconfiguration to use, but it's worth it. The time you save on organizing and maintaining your folder structures should make your work flow much more smoothly.