Tagging cumbersome? A solution proposal

I use tagged groups extensively in DT. The moment one wants to assign more than one group or tag, the available mechanisms become very cumbersome. In fact, I think it has become worse in DT3, as there seems to be no “Groups and Tags” panel anymore (or do I miss something?). The only options seem to be:

(1) replicate item to new group/tag by cmd-opt-drag,
(2) use the contextual menu,
(3) enter the (group) tags manual in the inspector.

The “one destination at a time” of (1) and (2) are killing me, and (3) essentially requires that you have the tag dictionary in your head, and it also is prone to creating bad tags due to auto-completion jumping the gun.

Here is what I really would like to have:

  • A group/tag window that shows all available tags at once (no collapsing hierarchies like the old group/tag panel)
  • Checkboxes to check/uncheck the desired tags. No cmd/shift-click stuff for multiple selections (which is prone losing the selection).
  • Once a selection is made and if necessary, reviewed, a button is pressed to add the tags to the item.

DT has no such solution and my scripting skills are not up to the task of trying to implement such a panel via AppleScript. To validate this approach, I decided to create an external panel which transfers the tags to the clipboard which can then be pasted into the DT inspector.

I made a php form-based webpage that shows this panel in a browser:

Once I selected tags and press “generate tag list”, the tags are displayed


and can be “select-all copied” to the clipboard and from there into DT (technically one could tell the script to automatically put this on the clipboard, but I ran into browser security barriers and did not follow up on this further). There are naturally drawbacks, namely that the list of tags must be manually updated to reflect the current DT group structure, and the need to copy/paste manually.

However, I have to say that after using this for a while, even with those complications, this has become by far my preferred method of grouping/tagging. I find it nice to be able to look at the list and select/deselect tags. Checkboxes and final validation with an OK button seem to be ideal to select multiple items from a large group of topics. Everything else feels inferior.

Ideally, such a method would be available natively in DT.

What do you think? Please let’s not discuss the merit or lack thereof of heavy grouping/tagging. That’s another question.

Menu Go > To Group shows a popup with all groups. It can be detached by dragging.

If you don’t use unified tags (Preferences General > Unify tags) then the popup/window also includes tags.

Wow, thanks Pete31, the amount of DT functions that I’m missing never ceases to astonish me. Sadly, this panel does not do much for me. For one, one still would have to cmd-opt-drag items onto a group to assign tags, and again, only one at a time. Assigning 5 groups to an item with this is deflating. It’s kind of redundant with the navigation sidebar now?

The Groups and Tags panel never allowed applying multiple tags, so I’m not sure how things got worse. :thinking:

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Blockquote The Groups and Tags panel never allowed applying multiple tags, so I’m not sure how things got worse.

It’s been a while that I used that panel, and you certainly would know much more about this, Jim. I seem to remember that I was able to cmd-click on a whole bunch of groups to jointly select them and then drag an item onto that selection (but the older I get the more I seem to recall stuff that never happened, like the moon landing)? I remember that this was in principle workable, but because the panel is a single-column list, my expanded group structure never fit onto the screen and scrolling while holding on to the cmd-key firmly to not lose the multiple selection was just too much to handle. Hence my idea with a static panel that shows all tags at once (unless someone has more than fit on a full screen), and filling checkboxes, and once done, returning the result. TBH, that feels like the natural mechanism for something with multiple assignments. Drag and drop is for single assignments (or dragging multiple items onto a single destination), and contextual menu actions even more so.

I think I brought this up here a few years ago, but no one echoed my concerns. If I’m the only one who is bugged by this then there is obviously no need for action. I’ll happily use my webform tag generator :grinning:.

Are you often using the same sets of tags repeatedly?

Are you often using the same sets of tags repeatedly?

Not really. They are often similar, but always with subtle differences. For most documents I have to have a real look at what to tag it with.

If there were many identical bulk tag actions, I would take that as a sign that the tagging/group structure is wrong, at least in my case, where I deal mostly with scientifc literature and my own research documents.

This script might be useful: