A few years ago, I was a real proponent of Google Desktop. I used it every time I wanted to open a file on my computer. Just hit Ctrl-Ctrl, type in something and get immidiate results. For some reason, however, I noticed that time after time, Google Desktop stopped providing me with good results. I don’t know what happened, but a lot of times it just didn’t find the files I wanted. I gave it a grace period of a few months (with several computers), but something was broken.
Right now, I’m using Launchy and Windows 7’s Start menu search to look for things on my computers. But since then I started to think how what I really wanted isn’t just a file name/content search. What I need is a tagging system for files. I started searching for such a system, but most solution required too much work on my part to manually tag all of my files, or use custom bloated explorer windows to navigate through them.
I think there are some minimal requirement from such a system:
- It should do the maximum effort to tag files automatically. This is very important. I don’t want to manually tag my entire file system. This is included but not limited to:
- Adding tags according to file names and recursively containing directories. i.e., if I have an mp3 file called ‘All My Loving.mp3’ in a ‘The Beatles’ directory, which is inside an ‘oldies’ directory, this file should automatically be tagged ‘All My Loving’, ‘The Beatles’ and ‘oldies’.
- Adding tags according to file format. The above file should also be automatically tagged ‘Music’.
- Adding tags according to meta data. The above file probably has ID3 tags. They should be extracted and tagged with. The above file should be tagged ‘With the Beatles’ in accordance with it’s album ID3 tag.
- It should do what it’s supposed to and get out of your way. Google Desktop’s search function is amazing in that respect. Press Ctrl-Ctlr, type what you want, hit enter to open it, and disappear. Launchy also does an excellent job in this field.
- It should learn your habits and know what you’re looking for (probably using frecency). Again, Launchy does this with great success.
One of the inevitable problems with the software currently available is that your tags are specific to your computer. I know, I can’t think of a reasonable way to deal with this either, except using some sort of universal file wrapper format which stores tagging metadata. I guess the only way we can really enjoy the full benefits of file tagging is when a new OS paradigm will emerge that’ll replace good ol’ directory structure with native file tagging.