Tags removed when dragged from a smart folder list

I’m having a problem with tags being removed when I drag files from a smart list (i.e. a saved search).

As an example: if I have a file named “filename searchTerm” that is tagged with “Tag1” and “Tag2,” and a saved search for all files containing “searchTerm” in their name - I will get a list containing my file “filename searchTerm” in it. In the list, “filename searchTerm” is still tagged with Tag1 and Tag2. If I drag the file out of the saved search list into another group, the file appears in the group but the tags Tag1 and Tag2 are removed!

This is very frustrating, as I used the saved searches to find files specifically to file them into other groups as needed. I don’t want them to completely loose all of their tags just because I found them using the saved search.

This does not happen if I drag a file with multiple tags from a group instead of a saved search. For example, if I have a file tagged with “group1” and “group2” (all groups acting as tags) and I drag the file from group1 into group3, the file now has the tags “group2” and “group3” - it does not lose the tag “group2” just because I dragged it from group1 to group3.

Is this saved search behavior a bug, or intentional? Is there any way to turn it off, so that dragging files from saved searches behave like dragging files from groups?


I am able to reproduce this when “tag 1” and “tag 2” are normal groups that are “included for tagging”. A smart group whose predicate is “tag is ‘tag 1’ or tag is ‘tag 2’” will find documents that are inside (original or replicated to) either of those groups. Dragging a file from the smart group into a group that is neither “tag 1” nor “tag 2” will remove the file from the smart group and from “tag 1” and/or “tag 2”.

This is unexpected – smart groups are supposed to be non-destructive saved searches. In the case discovered by @samrose, the smart group (or something else) behaves unusually because the location in the database of a document appearing in the search can be changed by interacting with the search.

I am not able to reproduce this when “tag 1” and “tag 2” are “real tags”. Dragging a file from the smart group makes it appear to disappear, but clicking away and then back to the smart group restores the search results.

Yes, the original tags I was referring to were normal groups included as tags (and not “real tags”).

However, I agree that this isn’t expected or desired behavior.

Perhaps this is a bug - do you suggest re-posting it as a support request? Or is the kind of thing that would be a feature request?

If I understand the situation correctly, this is the expected behavior. Group tags are only applied to documents contained in groups that have tagging enabled. If you drag documents out of groups that have tagging enabled, then the tag is dropped from the document. BTW, the fact that the documents are dragged from smart groups in this scenario has no bearing on the outcome. The smart group is not destructive-the act of dragging the documents into another group is what drops the original group tag.

I think Greg has the right analysis. Though the action and response is a bit odd – it’s nonetheless not one I’ve ever thought of doing until @samrose tempted me to try :laughing:

Greg is absolutely spot on with his analysis and the logic. This is functioning as designed.

Thanks for the replies. However, I think there may be a misunderstanding. I am not dragging the file out of the group “tag1” or “tag2” - I am only dragging the file from the smart group itself. So I am not dragging the file out of the group at all - only the saved search.

To be more clear, let me work with “group1” and “group2” where both are groups that are enabled as tags. Let us say “FileXYZ” is tagged (or grouped) with both group1 and group2. Now, in a different group (not under the hierarchy of group1 or group2), I create a saved search to look for all files with “XYZ” in the name. I open the saved search and see FileXYZ there. Now I drag FileXYZ into some other group - say “group3”. Why should group1 and group2 tags disappear? I have NOT dragged FileXYZ out of group1 and group2.

Can you clarify why the example above should be treated as the same as dragging the file out of group1 or group2? I think I am a bit confused, and I appreciate your time.


I believe I understand the concept, but a smart group/saved search is not a group location in the database containing documents. Just curious, what do you think should happen when you drag (file) a document from a smart group/search to a different group? Are you expecting that it be replicated to the new group (hold down command-option while dragging if that is the case)? What should happen if you delete a document from a smart group/search?

Not that the Finder should be the final authority about anything, but dragging a document from a Finder smart group/search to a different folder gives the same result as what happens in DEVONthink.

This is exactly what would be expected since the Tags are relative to their location. Dragging to a new group is changing its location, hence the non-relevant Tags are removed.

Thanks everyone for the replies. I believe I understand now. I can train myself to use only command-option-drag if I want to make a replicant.

In response to the question of what I want it to do - well, I want it to act more like tags than folders in this case. When I do a saved search, I see it as just a list of items - not something that is in any group - so my preference would be to drag to add it to something new (as if you were dragging a file onto a new tag), rather than to move it or change other things about it. However, I can see how it could go both ways, and I see the analogy to folders making it more like a move than adding a tag. My preference tends to be that I don’t want tags to just disappear - I want to explicitly remove them if I want them to go away. But that is just wanting groups to act more like tags I suppose.

Thanks everyone.