C-Command Software Forum

Feature request: negative tag searching

Use Case:

I work as a consultant in technical standards (e.g. ISO standards). My repository of standards drafts etc. files for the last year alone has around 1200 files in, all of them having cryptic names. For example


I participate in many organisations and any one file may be relevant to several of them. To work effectively in various meetings with such a large quantity of files mandates that I use Metadata and can manipulate that quickly to find some particular small subset of files I need at some time. Tags are the obvious mechanism to use. One possible strategy to finding files quickly across say 7 tags (more would violate 7+/-2 - keeping number of tags reasonable is desirable) is to label files that have been dealt with and are mostly obsolete with a “DONE” tag and to search for

A and not DONE

instead of just searching for A

Hence the need to easily negate a tag in a search expression.
I realise I can do this with saved searches but that doesn’t have the agility-of-use of just typing a search expression in the search box.

Without being able to negate a tag a strategy to do the same might be to label every file with a “notDONE” and remove it when that file is done with. However, that’s clumsy and tags far more items than necessary (and minimising the use of tags is good too).
I guess I could use a strategy of moving files between repositories or putting them in directories but both these are clumsy because even when a file is labelled “done” I still need to sometimes do searches in which it should appear.

Practically, these work-around strategies are messy.

A partial work-around:

I couldn’t get forum registration to work a couple of days ago (it seems fine now) so I emailed Michael and he suggested this:

“As a workaround, have you considered using a smart folder for “None ‘of the following’: Tags ‘contains any of’ done”? With that smart folder selected, you could then simply type “A” in the search field; you wouldn’t have to keep going back to the Edit Smart Folder window.”

Whilst this does go some way to meeting the use case above (thanks Michael) it still leaves some issues. For example its not possible with this solution to also use tag selection in the sidebar. The best, most flexible solution (imho) would be to be able to negate a tag (i.e. select records that don’t contain) in a search expression.

Anyone have thoughts about this ?

btw: thankyou Michael - the level of support you provide for EF is outstanding and would lead me too choose EF over other products even if I hadn’t already decided to buy it.


I’m not sure what you mean by that. I Command-clicked to select my “Not Done” smart folder and the “flagged” tag, and EagleFiler showed their intersection: the flagged records that did not have the “done” tag. That seems like the correct behavior to me.

I agree that it would be nice to have some additional search syntax for finding tags that are unassigned. I’d be interested to hear if or how other people would use this.

Ah - I didn’t know about Command-click. A bit obvious really :-). What a brilliant piece of software EF is.
Thanks Michael - I’ll manage with that as a work-around until you implement the other solution (given such a good workaround I would say this is not emergency priority).


I personally would use this for things real estate: “city pool not condo” to find properties in a given city with a community pool, but not include condos.

I too would find negative tag searches useful.