Compatibility of tags with computer file/folder tags (e.g., Mac)

Thanks for a terrific program. I've upgraded to 1.5 and it looks even better.

Tags are important to me because I have many thousands of pdf and .doc (etc) files in my computer hard drive for my research. As it becomes increasingly difficult to logically order all the files in a hierarchy of folders, I am turning to Tags.

There are several good tagging programs for the Mac, such as Tagit ( and Tags ( These seem to be moving to a common protocol, Open Meta. Anyway, I've tried both and they seem to read each other's tags.

However, the Zotero tags seem to work only within Zotero. Is that right? (Indeed, I can't search for these tags with the Mac Spotlight, right?)

Is there any chance that Zotero tags might become compatible with other tagging efforts? Or at least searchable thru the Mac?

(As you can tell, I'm not very familiar with how the various programs work, so this question may seem awfully naive.)

Thanks again

  • Welcome to the forums hgray. There have been one or two requests for this sort of feature but it is unlikely to happen. If Zotero was to implement something like this we would want it to work across the platforms Zotero works on. Open Meta is a cool project but it only works for OS X.
  • Ok, thanks. I'm not sure how Zotero works but here's a follow-up question:

    Isn't there a way for Mac (or other platforms) to use the Spotlight (or the like) to find files that were tagged by Zotero?
    (If not, then all the file management work is only accessible thru Zotero itself?)

    If not, then I don't quite see why I would want to tag & organize my hard drive files through Zotero. Am I missing something?
  • You can certainly use Spotlight to find the attachment files themselves based on content, but not (currently) based on Zotero tags. For that, there would have to be Spotlight integration.
  • This functionality could probably achieved in two different ways using openmeta.

    1) Write a script that queries the Zotero database for attached and linked files and their tags and then uses openmeta to replace the original tags with those attached by Zotero

    2) Do the same as a zotero plugin.

    Number 1 is probably more straight forward to implement.

    Is there an event in Zotero that can be listened to by a plugin to know when a tag is added or removed?

  • I played around with Spotlight last night and got it to index custom attributes that I have placed in PDFs from command line. I have currently implemented author, year, and publication.

    If I can get some help in integrating this to Zotero, I could release this as a Zotero plugin.

  • This sounds like a very helpful direction. (Sorry I'm not a techie...)

    I like Zotero for gathering my research materials from the web, but I'm reluctant to use it as an isolated file mgt program.
  • I whole-heartedly second hgray's comments. Tags work very well within Zotero, but if they played nicely with the operating system as a whole, that would be incredibly useful. Thanks in advance to anyone working on a solution for OS X.
  • Another vote in favor
  • Count my vote!
  • @Tjowens

    OpenMeta is a mac thing for sure, but the idea of open tag standards is not and sooner or later through some kind of extended file attribute any/all filesystems will implement the equivalent of OpenMeta.

    Zotero is being short-sighted if they postpone development in this area. Developing with OpenMeta would set the foundation for other implementations later.

    I am happy to do the job in fact, with a little help. :-)
  • Hi again. It's an old thread, so will anyone read this?

    Thanks to the link about spotlight, above, I figure out how to search zotero files in Finder.
    This is a terrific function. (But perhaps similar search can be done through Zotero anyway?)

    So -- (1) how do we search for the tags themselves? mronkko mentions this possiblity above. I'm just an end-user and I don't see the tags showing up anywhere in the zotero library.

    (2) Question -- it now looks that I can figure out how to add Openmeta tags to my zotero pdfs and docs. Is there any problem with doing this? Will Zotero strip out these Openmeta tags?
  • 1. mronkko is referring to Zotero tags, not metatags added to pdfs.

    2. No problem with that and Zotero doesn't touch pdf files stored with it (except for the option to change the file name), so no, they won't be stripped.
  • edited June 22, 2011
    Yes, thanks for #2. Sounds like useful potential.

    #1: Yes, I know it's about Zotero tags. Is there a way that a Finder or Spotlight search can identity a Zotero tag?

    (Thanks for the link.)
  • no - someone would have to write spotlight integration for Zotero as outlined in the other thread that you posted to.
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