Windows Vista has built in functionality for letting users tag files with keywords and other metadata, making it lot easier to find. You can then create “virtual folders” based on saved searches for explicit keywords of the files you have tagged, having different virtual folders for different projects for instance. The only letdown is that you are only able to tag a few file formats and those are:
- Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access files.
- Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video files.
- TIFF and JPEG files.
- MP3 files.
- XPS, Microsofts replacement for PDF.
- MSI installer files. (Yes Windows Vista support MSI files tags but this is in practice not very usable at all.)
As you can see this leaves a lot of file formats to wish for. For this excellent feature of Vista to be really useful I would like to be able to tag PDF files, PNG image files, favorites, web files and much more. One problem though is that the metadata and tags are stored in the actual files, not in alternate data streams on the file system itself. The advantage of this is that you can be sure that the metadata will always stick with the file if you move it or send it to someone via email.
I have during the beta testing of Vista tried to find out more about how this file tagging actually works and why more formats are not supported. I mean PDF files can contain tags and comments, what is stopping Adobe or Microsoft from making Vista tags work with PDF files? Sadly Service Pack 1 seems to make no changes at all regarding the ability to tags files. If anyone have more information about tagging files in Vista please leave a comment!