I recently (w/in the last year) have began integrating file tagging and use of meta-data heavily into my digital organizational system, on my MacBook Pro (running OS X Lion 10.7.2). To facilitate this, I've used the software "Fresh", which is a tagging software, which I use in conjunction with Leap (both made by Ironic software).

The basic idea behind what I'm doing is that I stop worrying about where I store things and I start religiously tagging everything and I then just find anything I need using search and tags. It has made a HUGE difference in my productivity and I've cutdown on occurrences of duplicate versions of files...etc. As part of the Leap/Fresh software system, you can mark a file as "managed" after you've tagged it and it then "files" it in a set of hierarchical folder that is organized by Year>Month>Day (e.g. "~Filed Documents/2011/12/2" would be the directory for any files I "filed" today). Here is my question:

At a core operating system level, would my system/search functions operate more efficiently if I dumped all my files into a central directory and then only had to search within that folder for tags (i.e. remove the hierarchical folder system)? I've searched online extensively and I've not been able to come up with a definitive answer. Thanks in-advance!

  • Wehere does Fresh store the tags? In it's own database or in an OSX structure attached to the individual file?
    – nohillside
    Dec 2 '11 at 19:30
  • @patrix I know that Leap (the other tagging program mentioned in the question) uses OpenMeta tags, which are IIRC saved as a file's extended attribute: kMDItemOMUserTags I'm not 100% sure if it is prefixed with org.openmetainfo: or com.apple.metadata:, though. Dec 3 '11 at 13:51
  • (Oh, but I'm also uncertain where Leap or Fresh would index the tags) Dec 3 '11 at 13:52

No, I don't think so. Spotlight indexes files in order for quick searching. Once indexed, a file is very quick to find, the part that takes time is the actual indexing. I suppose you could argue that the act of moving a file might cause it to be re-indexed (now that it's in a new location), but I don't know enough about how Spotlight works to be sure. Either way, the difference you would notice would be minimal. Once the initial indexing is done, the time spent adjusting the indexes is not big.

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