How to search for low-usage tags?

Is it possible to search for tags that have little or no usage? I’ve accumulated over 3700 tags across almost a dozen databases, and need to winnow out tags that aren’t used or only used a few times. Manually scrolling through the tag list in the navigation sidebar is proving to be time-consuming. Ideally I’d be able to identify tags that are only used less than N times, where N could be specified.

I’m not aware of any such search criterion. The only way I can come up with is to write a script which counts the number of items in each Tag in the Global Tags, assuming that is an accessible group. The count could be put in custom metadata and you could then use a smart group to show up tags which are not used more than x times (but more than 0 times). Obviously that number would not change dynamically, instead updating only when the script was run. It’s not a particularly nice solution, but I can’t think of any other. Perhaps somebody else will have a better idea.

If you

  • don’t use Tags’ Finder comments (they will be overwritten!)
  • don’t use nested Tags
  • only use Tags for documents (as the script does NOT count groups)

then you could try this script.

  1. Create a smart group kind:tag in every database
  2. Attach the script as Triggered Script (in the info inspector)
  3. Deselect, then select every smart group, this will trigger the script and update the count in the Finder Comment

Afterwards you can use the comment column to sort.

Please verify that the script does what you want before you delete anything. I seldom use tags and couldn’t test it the way I normally would.

At least unused tags can be automatically deleted by smart rules:

Thank you @pete31. Coupled with the suggestion made by @cgrunenberg, this gives me the visibility I needed to more easily identify and manage low-use tags.

Thanks @cgrunenberg. Your smart rule makes it easy to get rid of tags that weren’t being used.

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