The Finder's labels have been a convenient aspect of the Mac OS since early in the classic Mac's development. Applying labels gives a file an extended attribute that the Finder can use to sort or group files, making them easy to find and manage. By default the Finder should not be applying any labels to files; however, some people may see this happening.
Apple Discussion member "JimFerguson" writes:
"Sometime after upgrading to 10.6.4 on my MacBook Pro, I noticed that new files created by any application are labeled yellow. I've looked at Finder's preferences, View options, and System Preferences but can't find anything that would cause this behavior. How can I get it to stop? Thanks"
Finder labels should definitely not be automatically assigned to files, unless a specific application is set to do so (though I'm not aware of any with this capability). The other possibility is if you have a watch folder setup with folder actions that will run an applescript or automator workflow to apply labels; however, this should only apply to the items in select folders instead of every folder.
Since the problem happens with all applications, and to all files regardless of where they are in the system, it indicates that the factor in common for these applications is the Finder. The Finder should display newly created items with no extended file attributes such as labels unless the user specifically sets them, but since this is happening, the Finder's preferences and other settings are not working properly.
The Finder has two preference files associated with labels, the first of which is the Finder's standard preference file called "com.apple.Finder.plist," and a specific preference file for the labels called "com.apple.Labels.plist" which holds custom names for labels. Both of these files are located in the /username/Library/Preferences/ folder, so try removing them and relaunching the Finder (force-quit it using the option from the Apple menu, or log out and log back in).
For files that have been labeled, you can easily remove the label by doing a Finder search for all files with the specific label:
- In the Finder press Command-F to bring up the "Find" window.
- In the search field select "This Mac" (it does not matter if you search by file contents or name).
- In the menu labeled "Kind," select "Other" to view the list of search filters, and locate the one called "File Label" (search for it if you need to).
- With the "File Label" filter selected, choose the desired color only (do not enter any text in the search field).
With this done, the system will search through the hard drive and show any file labeled the specific color. From here you can select them and get information on them all by pressing Option-Command-I to get the "File Inspector." This inspector will list the common attributes for all selected files, and allow you to change them, so click the "X" next to the labels in the inspector to remove the labels from these files.