How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

In one of our previous macOS how-to guides, we explained how using tags can help you organize your files and folders and quickly locate them when they’re needed. In this article, we’re going to show you how to tag items in Finder using a simple custom keyboard shortcut, for even faster tagging.

The first series of steps below shows you how to create a handy key shortcut to activate Finder’s inline tagging menu. Once you’ve done that, we explain how you can use one or more custom shortcuts to directly apply specific color tags to selected items in a Finder window.

How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech

This more powerful color tagging method requires creating a simple Automator service. If that sounds scary, don’t worry – it’s a simple process, and if you’re a frequent user of tags then you’ll find this quick recipe well worth the effort. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

How to Create a Shortcut for Tagging Items in Finder

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu bar ( -> System Preferences…).
  2. Select the Keyboard preference pane.
  3. Click the Shortcuts tab.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  4. Select App Shortcuts in the left column and click the + button.
  5. Select Finder.app in the Application field.
  6. Type Tags… in the Menu Title field.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  7. Click inside the Keyboard Shortcut field and press your preferred key combination for activating the service. In our example, we’ve used Shift-Command-T.
  8. Click Add.

Now your shortcut is set up, it’s time to try it out. Open a Finder window and select an item (or several) for tagging. Hit your chosen key combination and you should see a tag menu pop up beneath the selected item(s), like so.

How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech

From there, just start typing the name of the tag you want to use and it should appear in the input field. Hit Enter to apply it. Alternatively, use the down arrow key to choose the tag you want from the dropdown list, and hit Enter.

How to Create a Color Tagging Service in Automator

  1. Launch Automator from the Applications folder.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  2. Click New Document.
  3. Choose Service as the type of your document.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  4. Type label into the search field at the top of the Automator sidebar.
  5. Drag the Label Finder Items action into the empty workflow area.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  6. Click the tag color you want to use for your first keyboard shortcut. (We’re going for red in our example.)
  7. Select files or folders in the Service receives selected dropdown.
  8. Select Finder in the in application dropdown.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  9. Select File -> Save from the Automator menu bar, and give your service a name. We’ll be using the name “Tag Red”.
  10. Click Save.

How to Assign a Shortcut to Your New Tagging Service

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu bar ( -> System Preferences…).
  2. Select the Keyboard pane.
  3. Click the Shortcuts tab.
  4. Select App Shortcuts in the left column and click the + button.

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  5. Select Finder.app in the Application field.
  6. In the Menu Title field, type the exact name of the service you just created in Automator (“Tag Red” in our example).

    How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech
  7. Click inside the Keyboard Shortcut field and press your chosen key combination for activating the service. We’ve used Shift-Command-R.
  8. Click Add.

You should now be able to tag selected items in Finder with your chosen color using the keyboard shortcut you created.

How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech

To create additional shortcuts for applying other tag colors, simply follow the Automator steps again but choose another color, and save the service under a corresponding name. Then simply assign a shortcut to the named service in the Keyboard preference pane as described above.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra

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How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech

How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, ONLY infoTech

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