I don't like the almost invisible little colored dots (tags) that have replaced the full-length color highlighted labels used in Mountain Lion. Is there a way to go back to using full-field labels?

  • 3
    I don't think it's possible because now a file can have multiple tags attached to it. – shrx Nov 1 '13 at 17:12
  • YES: there is a way: revert to Mountain Lion itself! But, unfortunately, you cannot in general combine features from different version of OS X. – GEdgar Jan 24 '14 at 1:30

I have the same problem, and so do others: just search the Apple support discussions. The only solutions currently are:

  • Reinstall OS X 10.8
  • Install PathFinder, a third party patch that brings back labels
  • If PF is too pricey, try asking binaryage (makers of TotalFinder) to also enable this feature, as TotalFinder is only $18, compared to Pathfinder at nearly $40.

There's also a few other semi-workarounds, like coloring folders using 3rd party tools (though this is tedious and only works for folders, not files)

And remember to tell Apple that you want labels back! If enough people speak out, they will change it.

  • 1
    PathFinder is not a "patch" its a separate file browser program. TotalFinder on the other hand is actually a plugin for Finder.app. – Brad Allred Dec 3 '13 at 16:28

Good news for all that miss the color-backgrounds from 10.8 and below. The free Extension "XtraFinder" has a new Option in Version 0.19 called "Leagacy Color Label Painting" (in "Appearance") which brings back the color background for the finder in listmode.

  • It is a separate "Finder" app that might contain this feature but it doesn't enable classic labels to newer OS. – Naveed Abbas Nov 28 '16 at 14:44
  • Excellent, I thought XtraFinder didn't have this option. Thanks! – brasofilo Jul 31 '18 at 19:33

In fact that was the way labels behaved since System 7 (MacOS 7)

I really don't remember if they were present in System 6 though.

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Restoring coloured labels are a new feature in TotalFinder:

This feature mimics old Finder behaviour. I implemented this option because many people requested back colored labels from Mountain Lion.

  • 1
    Which new feature are you refering to and how does it relate to the question asked above? – nohillside Apr 8 '14 at 9:22

I too mourn the loss of the "labels" feature for the new "tags" action in Mavericks. My short term solution is to change the standard blue folder icon to a color icon that mimics the color scheme I used before. This at least puts the identifier to the left of the file name and stands out better. The example below uses colored circles for the folder icons. enter image description here

If you aren't sure of how to change the folder icon this is a link to a tutorial screencast from the macmost.com website - MacMost Now 465: Creating Custom Folder and File Icons

There are several free sources for Mac icons. I've used the "Pixelmator" application and the "Img2icon" app to create a custom icon library.


Labels are still present in OSX 10.9. If you turn on an old program (like Adobe CS5 or other older versions) you'll see that in teh Apps' open&save menus the files are presented with the old label system. Also if you consider the fact that Tags replaced Labels in a way that all your previous labels turned into tags you'll get to the only conclusion possible: that the option for labeling is still present in OSX 10.9 but must be switched off.

There must be a simple command you can drop into terminal to change back to labels.


There is no officially supported way to do this (and no unofficially supported hack that re-enables it either that I was aware of until I read the answer that mentioned PathFinder). The behaviour of Tags in Mavericks as compared to Labels in every previous version of OS X is very different, and you cannot pick and choose elements to work in one way and have the rest to work in another, it's all or nothing I'm afraid, so if you are on Mavericks the best you can do is hope for a feature as part of a future OS update that adds extended options to tags. I'm sure further tag options will be forthcoming, as it's essentially a V1 feature at present, and maybe this will be one of them.

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