I used to be able to color code each folder in Finder.

I know I can use tags in Mavericks, but is there a way to restore the ability to actually color code folders?


  • Is there something the "colour-coding" (aka Labels) gives you that Tags don't? By my understanding, Tags basically replace Labels, but they're functionally equivalent... – Dan J Oct 23 '13 at 14:59
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    @DanJ Yes, using the colour on the whole width of the column in column mode for example – alecail Oct 23 '13 at 15:02
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    As Antoine said, it made for very easy recognition. so for example, bills to be paid were grey, while paid bills were green, etc. I know we can tag things now, and we'll get used to it, but it was nice to be able to scroll through a folder and see everything. Now, we have to filter everything.. – David DelMonte Oct 23 '13 at 15:17
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    This is problematic in the case where the filename column (in list view) or the file's column (in column view) is expanded to show long file names; or, when the folders are deeply nested, and the window is scrolled. The dots on the right side disappear unless the window is also resized or the right-side of the column is scrolled back into view. – Kent Oct 24 '13 at 0:24

2 solutions to color tag files:

  • That's extremely helpful, thanks Lukas. We'll give it a shot – David DelMonte Oct 23 '13 at 16:50

Unlike colours, tags one not mutually exclusive. You can set multiple tags for one file.

This may explain why Finder no longer displays the colour like before.

Sadly, it will only display a maximum of three colours on the right of the filename. It looks like these three colours are the last three in the list.

enter image description here

  • Thanks Antoine.. I'll hold out a bit before changing our business process. +1 for explanation. – David DelMonte Oct 23 '13 at 15:19
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    From the example, it looks it chooses the last three tag colors from the list. By itself, this doesn't break anyone's current workflow, since only one color could be assigned to any particular file before 10.9; but, it's an odd design choice to display only three, if there is sufficient space to show more. – Kent Oct 24 '13 at 1:04

remember to tell Apple. We want labels back:



You might be interested in downloading Folder Magic. It lets you easily assign colours to folders (which makes them very easy to differentiate).

  • Thank you. Welcome to AskDifferent! This is exactly what I wanted. I just don't want to disrupt the business process at this time.. – David DelMonte Oct 26 '13 at 9:23

As there doesn't appear to be a good solution to our problem, this allows you to use your coloured icons on the sidebar to help you locate folders visually by larger colored areas of the screen:



Interestingly enough, there are several Applications which can act as a finder replacement and which display the Folder Labels in 10.9 as well as the Background like in 10.8, 10.7 etc.:

So the feature is not completly gone, the 10.9-Finder just don't display it. Let's hope someone finds a Hack to get coloring back.


The folder magic app kind of works its a bit fussy as an extra step, but if you are using a set system or not changing it frequently it will work nicely. -- It is my dream that maybe someone will write an app that carries the "tag color" up into the "folder image" (two tags = two tone folder? etc?) for all the visual/spatial organizers out there.

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