Keywords in OS X and Windows

November 30, 2007 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Speaking of keywords …

Apple and Microsoft have been beefing up their OS's to accommodate the Google approach to file management — at least as it applies to hard drive searches — for a while now. You can apply keywords to any file in OS X by adding them to the Spotlight Comments area in a file's Get Info dialog box. (Select the file in the Finder and choose File > Get Info.) Both Spotlight and the Finder's basic Find command can include keywords in searches.

You can apply keywords to JPEGs — and *only* JPEGs, not TIFFs or whatever — in Windows XP via the Properties dialog box, and include them during searches from Window's Search command. Windows Vista enhanced this feature, letting you add keywords (which they call "Tags" but are the same thing) to Office files as well, and not just in Properties but also directly in an Explorer window or in an Open/Save dialog box.

What is supremely frustrating for every digital designer who wants to move towards a Piling, not Filing way of life, is that the keyword tagging supported in their OS only works in that OS! They aren't cross-platform, and with one exception, Adobe Bridge doesn't recognize OS X/Windows keywords and they don't recognize Bridge's.

While researching this article I read that with its new Tags feature, Vista is employing the same XMP specification for file metadata as Adobe (who developed it). Unfortunately, a specification is not the same as a standard, so at this point there's very little cross-over.

The only person on the planet I know who has both Vista and CS3 running on the same computer is my partner-in-crime over at, David Blatner. I asked him to test out Vista's tagging abilities with Bridge. He found that — Hallelujah! — most JPEG metadata is shared between Vista and Bridge, regardless of where you add it. But it doesn't work for any other filetype we tried. You can add keywords to a Word document in Vista, but Bridge not only can't see them, it says that the file type doesn't support XMP metadata when you try to add them in Bridge.

Adobe says they don't want to spend limited resources on developing features that are OS-specific, so at this point we're still miles apart from being able to apply a keyword to a file and have that stick, dadgumit, regardless of where we access it. We need to get these knuckleheads working together.

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