Increase Number of Color Tags Allowed

The maximum number of color tags is currently restricted to 6. I wish I can assign more color tags, say, 9, using number keys 1 to 9. It is a great way to add/remove tags with shortcut keys.

Is there a particular reason the number of color tags is restricted to 6? I can think of two possible concerns.

(1) One may concern that too many color tags may fill the title column, but 6 and 9 are not very different. Also, people would not tag an item with all 9 color tags anyway.

(2) One may also concern that colors may look too similar if we allow 9. But even the current color palette offers 9 colors, which look fine to me. Why not use all of them?

It seems that allowing to use all 9 colors can only benefit people who want to use them. It shouldn't be hard to implement, either. Can we have that limit increased? I'm willing to discuss more about possible pros and cons.
  • But even the current color palette offers 9 colors, which look fine to me.
    There are 9 colors to choose from, but the concern was that if people used them all it could be pretty hard to distinguish them in the middle pane (e.g., between the two purples at the end, not next to each other?).

    Additionally, the colored tags are always displayed at the top of the tag selector in their assigned order, even if they don't appear in a given collection, so that people can quickly determine the number they're assigned to. That's pretty easy to do with 6 tags, but with 9 tags (which could easily stretch over several rows) I think it becomes a lot harder. And 9 tags just seems like a lot to keep track of in memory.

    I don't have particularly strong feelings on this, though.
  • "if people used them all it could be pretty hard to distinguish them in the middle pane (e.g., between the two purples at the end, not next to each other?)."

    : If a user often use a certain set of color tags together, he or she can choose the colors that are more distinguishable from each other.

    "Additionally, the colored tags are always displayed at the top of the tag selector in their assigned order, even if they don't appear in a given collection, so that people can quickly determine the number they're assigned to. That's pretty easy to do with 6 tags, but with 9 tags (which could easily stretch over several rows) I think it becomes a lot harder."

    : If a user wants more than 6 colors, the user would have been using the color tags so heavily that memorization is not a problem any more, which is the case for me. Also, when the user chunks keys into meaningful sets, memorizing them becomes a lot easier. A practical scenario is to use 1-3 to mark importance, 4-5 to mark read/unread and credibility of the claim, 6-9 to mark distinct projects.

    The user can always choose not to use all 9 colors, too. Maybe you can leave the default limit as 6, and give an option to increase it in the hidden preferences (about:config). Meanwhile, if there's a simple modification I can make in the source code that increases the limit, I'm willing to try it.
  • Dan isn't fond of prefing these types of things.

    I'm with ohthere here - the "damage" done by using too many tags is solely visual and if a user doesn't like it, s/he can just reduce the number of colored tags used. I'd opt for more flexibility, i.e. 9 color tags.
  • I agree with ohthere and adamsmith. 9 colors will provide more fexibility. And an user who doesn't want more than 6 color doesn't have to use more than 6 colors.
  • edited October 26, 2013
    I' m actually heavily reliant on both collections and tags. I've got a number of collections for each subtopic (spin hall effect, second harmonic generation, plasmonics, photonics, metamaterials, inverse faraday effect, nonlinear optics, heusler alloys.... - you get the idea). Now, I also NEED to tag these based on a particular code:
    - read that,
    - finished,
    - to be finished,
    - review article,
    - fragments finished (for large reviews that are of interest only in fragments)
    - potentially useful experiment
    - potentially useful theory
    - importance high
    - importance medium
    - importance low
    And I might need to create more tags (say, for PhD theses?) in the future.

    The cool and extremely useful part is that:
    1) I can define autosearch for a given set of tags (for instance: articles that are marked as "finished"+"potentially useful experiment")

    2) I can filter my collection by picking multiple tags in the lower left menu (tag cloud) - say, browse only by "to be finished"+"review". It is <extremely> useful to have all those tags appear as colorful squares next to articles - so whenever I browse my library I see right away - this one is "review+finished+high importance", another article is "to be finished+potentially useful theory+importance medium". You see much more than just plain list of titles. You see where the gut of your research is.

    3) I can export such a saved search, all of the articles, either as bibliographic metadata into word or bibtex or as pdf files - using zotfile. So whenever my boss wants to have a look at what I've been reading, I write a document using a modified harvard citation style that contains bibliographic metadata + abstracts, and attach a folder of all the pdf files for easy reference. Plain, simple, killer usability. My boss likes this so much he's thinking about forcing the whole department into using Zotero... slowly, so as not to step on the toes of people's personal preferences, but still. So a big up for Zotero team.


    That's about a user case/usage scenario. To conclude: I'd like to have a color for each one. The limit of 6 colors is too tight, as would be the limit of 9. Don't worry for my ability to distinguish colors, with a proper color picker (0-255,0-255,0-255) I can manage just right.

    Why so applish? Users can make such decisions on their own.

    And might I suggest using not only colors, but colorful icons? Say, a red/orange/yellow exclamation mark for importance high/mid/low?
  • edited May 12, 2014
    And I might need to create more tags (say, for PhD theses?) in the future.
    This is my case :)

    It would be great to have 9 colorizable tags mapped to the keyboard number keys 1-9. With only 6 tags, I have to restrict myself unnecessarily.

    I agree with citizen_x. Allowing more tags to be colorized and possibly allowing tags to include some kind of (user defined) symbols to distinguish them would be nice.
  • i a lso fully subscribe to citizien_x's comment. could you tell us if there are any plans and maybe a timing or not. since i would adapt my "tag strategy" accordingly.
  • I'm pretty sure that Dan won't implement unlimited colored tags as citizen_x suggests - that raises all types of issues, both in terms of usability and in terms of extra requirements it poses for data exchange.

    He'll have to say about increasing the number of colored tags to 9, which would be a quick&minor change code-wise.

    (I'll say, though, that arguing that GUI design should be "less applish" isn't going to be a winning strategy on that...)
  • Any update on increasing the number of tags?
    Or allowing users to define their own icons?

    Many people make active use of both tags and collections (as mentioned above by citizen_x). I am an academic and have been a happy zotero user for 6 years, with 2000 items and 30 collections. Given the usefulness and dynamic nature of tags (filtering, visual feedback) the strict limits imposed on them seem unreasonable.
    Thanks for your consideration and keep up the great work.
  • I join the chorus here, it would be good if the number of colored tags could be increased!

    Thank you very much for the great work and consideration.
  • I join to, I'm a freshly color user and more of them would be really appreciated !
    Any news about that ?

    Tanks !
  • For those of us on OSX, it appears to be possible to use the emoji keyboard to add icons to tags to make them more visually distinctive. While editing the tag, use command-control-space to launch the keyboard, and click on the desired icon to insert. The emoji appears both in the individual entry pane and the tag list.

    The developers online can tell us whether it is wise to do so. :-)
  • I agree w/ 9 colored tags. Hoping this is implemented.
  • I fully agree with citizen_x. For me 9 would be a minimum, but more would definitely be welcome!
    I like being able to see at a glance when searching for a specific term which of the results fall into which category (projects, biblio aspects, models...) so I can directly access the ones I'm interested in.

    For example I currently have 3 tags that I can't go without (to read, important, reviews), so that leaves me with only 3 more to work with which is clearly not enough for me. So I have to choose which tags are the most important to me at a given period of time and rotate/sacrifice the others :(
  • Is anyone still considering adding more color tags? This would be very useful to me as well.
  • Is this forum still being monitored? This feature was first requested in September 2013 - almost three years ago. As one of the initial participants in the conversation pointed out, if the colored tags are expanded from 6 to 9, and any users find that too confusing, they can always choose to continue using only 6, but for those of us who have good reasons to need more than 6, what is the reason for refusing to make the "quick&minor" code change?
  • Is this forum still being monitored?
    yup. I can't say if there's a particular reason for the delay or if Dan just hasn't gotten to it but obviously getting 5.0 out is a bigger priority right now.
  • FYI Update: That's for Zotero 5.0 and should be part of the (public) beta soon if it isn't already.
  • It's in version r28 of the 5.0 Beta now.
  • (dan: maybe that could be added to the changelog)
  • edited March 16, 2017
    @dstillman, now that the number of colors will be expanded to 9, how do you feel about appending the position number to colored tags? I realize that colored tags are ordered in the tag selector by position, but with up to 9 colored tags it may not be readily apparent which tag has which number attached to it. E.g. the tag selector could show "first-colored-tag [1]", ..., "ninth-colored-tag [9]" instead of just "first-colored-tag", ..., "ninth-colored-tag".

    (also, as a separate feature request for colored tags, I would love it if it would be possible to select some items, press a key of an unassigned number, and have the "Assign Color..." dialog window open (which would have to be adapted to also allow the user to type out the new tag label))

    (also, as a separate feature request for tags in general, I would really really love it if there were a faster way to assign new tags to multiple items. Sometimes I already have a number of items selected to which I want to add a new tag, and currently I need to lose my selection, select a single item, add a new tag to it, and then reselect my original selection, and drag that selection to the new tag. It's not straightforward. A right-click menu item ("Add Tag to Items...") or right-column tab for editing shared metadata would be much preferred.)
  • I like the idea of a right pane. For tags, it could list all of the tags included on any of the selected items. Tags on all items in black text, tags on some but not all items gray. Clicking on a tag would edit it and add to all selected items. Clicking and deleting the tag text would remove the tag from all items. There could be a + to add new tags.

    There could also be a button to relate all selected items to each other.

    Eventually, the same pane, perhaps in a different tab, could show shared metadata fields and allow batch editing.
  • Did this get removed between 5 beta and 5 release? It is not showing in 5.0.8. As with others, this would increase my efficiency.
  • I know this is an old thread, but I just came looking for more information on this. When I realized there were only nine colors, I despaired a bit, but then sat down fit all of my tags into seven major categories and then felt pretty good about life. Because at least the major themes of my dissertation would be color-coded and that would be SO helpful. But then I realized you can only assign each color to one tag. Literally, you can only code 9 tags. I have 45 *so far.* womp womp

    An RGB color picker would be awesome, but I can understand why it wouldn't be practical to program. But could it be changed to allow the colors to be used on more than one tag?
  • Changing the basic way that colored tags works (one to one mapping) is unlikely in the near future, if at all. I would recommend in your case just adding multiple tags to each item -- one colored tag for the broad category and then additional tags for the more specific categories.
  • That's fine. Just thought I'd ask. Thanks for responding.

    And I did think of that bwiernik, adding the broader categories. But it means I have to go through several hundred items and retag them with the seven new tags. So, that is also unlikely to happen in the near future, if at all. ;)

  • edited April 26, 2018
    You can do this fairly quickly. First do search for Tag is “tag name” for each of the tags belonging to one of the seven colored tags and choose Match: Any. Click save search. Then type Ctrl+A and drag all of the items to the relevant colored tag in the tag picker. Repeat for each of the seven tags.
  • Ah! I just tried this and it's so easy! Thank you! This is so helpful.
  • I requested stars or read vs unread buttons.... but I understand we have colors. I am color-blind and thus not hugely thrilled with tagging by colors... but that's just me. OK. I'll use them if I can find them. HOW DO I FIND AND USE THESE MUCH TOUTED 9 COLOR CODED TAGS. I am a Zotero evangelist and am using Z 5.0.47
  • Documentation is here:
    You should update Zotero to the most recent version
    Please don't use all caps in the forums.
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