Tagspaces, a Powerful Offline Personal File Organiser

Tagspaces is a file and note organiser for all major platforms (including mobile). Unlike the “cloud-crazed” hype we see across all applications, using proprietary file solutions and not letting the user access their data outside of the software, Tagspaces is offline, open source, uses plain file formats, and has a simple yet ingenious tagging mechanism. It is extensible (“hackable”), cross platform, and free to use.

Tagspces is a versatile application. It can be used as an effective file organiser to easily tag and find files of many types, as a notes organiser due to its built-in editors, and even as an alternative file manager that works across all platforms. It is written in Javascript with a responsive HTML5 interface.

The most refreshing feature of tagspaces is being “offline.” It has no web back-end, needs no registration, and does not send your files into the cloud. You keep control over your data while retaining the ability organise, manage and edit your files in any way you like, inside or even outside of tagspaces. Your filesystem will act as the database, data structure is defined by folders, and tags are kept in the filename. This means no proprietary technology is used to lock you in. Tagspoaces does not mind if you are unfaithful.

For those who prefer to have their data accessible across all systems, Tagspaces will run on many platforms and lets you use whatever solution you prefer to synchronise your files, be it Dropbox, Google Drive, or ownCloud, and you can even run tagspaces on your own server with the WebDAV edition.

Tagspaces is truly cross-platform software. It runs on all major OSes –including Linux, Windows, and OS X – mobile platforms – like iOS and Android –  as Firefox or Chrome extensions, or on a WebDAV server (like ownCloud). You will find the appropriately packaged version for your system(s) on the official download page along with minimum system requirements.

Installation is usually as easy as unpacking the downloaded ZIP file, and starting (from the command line or with a double click) the OS-specific executable.

  • on Linux, it will be a file called tagspaces
  • on Windows, it’s tagspaces.exe
  • on OS X, it will come as TagSpacreas.app

When you first run it on OS X, you will need to right-click the TagSpaces.app folder and choose “Open,” selecting “Open” in the dialogue again. (This is only necessary for the first time you run Tagspaces on OS X. Linux and Windows versions will run straight away.) Android and iOS versions are available from the respective app stores.

Tagspaces is very capable. It can browse folders and files, tag and search them, display the contents of folders in different views and also the contents of common file types like text files, images, and source-code, and also create move, delete, and edit files.

When you first open the application, you will need to add a location where it will look for files. While you can of course add your root directory and have everything in one place, you might want to make use of named locations: Just add a directory and give it a name so you can easily access it later without having to navigate there. This can be anything: your Pictures folder, a project you are working on, or a folder (structure) you store notes in.

tagspaces-new-location

Navigation

The user interface is intuitive. On the left-hand side column, you can see your chosen location, with any subdirectories marked with smaller folder icons. The right side will list available files. You can use different views to list your files which you can choose from the perspective switch in the upper right corner.

tagspaces-default-screen2

Apart from the list view, you can also organise them as a responsive grid,

tagspaces-grid-view

different tree-, mind-, and other maps, which the developer insists are useful for mapping development projects,

tagspaces-tree-view

tagspaces-map-view-2

and a rather interesting “Bilevel Partition” view which even the developer does not claim to be useful for anything (but it does look interesting).

tagspaces-bilevel-partition-view

Tags

Using tags is what tagspaces is supposedly all about, yet it makes tagging and viewing tags surprisingly simple. You can switch to “Tag Library” on the left-side pane to view your most commonly used tags.

tagspaces-tag-library

To tag a file or multiple files at once, just select them, and click the little tag icon,

tagspaces-tag-files

and type them in,

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or you can just reuse existing tags by clicking them and selecting “Tag Selected Files.”

tagspaces-reuse-tags

Tagspaces uses “smart tags”, which means certain types of tags are colour-coded and are automatically recognised. Normal tags are dark-green. If you write keywords like “today” or tomorrow,” these will generate a blue tag, so you will instantly recognise it. Priorities like “high,” medium,” or “low” will become red, orange and light green respectively. “Start ratings,” like “1star,” “4star,” etc., will turn into an ugly yellow.

tagspaces-smart-tags

When files are tagged, it is easy to filter them. Just click on a tag, and select “Show files with selected tag.” New files (created with Tagspaces) are automatically tagged with the current date and time in the format of YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS, something like 20151023-185323.

This, and all other tags, will automatically become part of the filename, as this is how Tagspaces saves tags, so the file saved to disk will be named differently than it shows up in the software. Your given file name will be appended with brackets and white spaces between them will separate the tags, like this:

FileName[tag tag tag].extension

A markdown file created with the file name Test_File.md and tags of 20151023-185923 (the automatic time-stamp), sample, Tag and whatever would be saved like this:

Test_File[20151023-185923 sample Tag whatever].md

This naming method makes it easy to tag any type file without having to modify its contents or use some obscure technology. Simple, yet brilliant, although it might not work in every use case. If you have strict naming conventions, the tags can be simply removed.

File preview and editing

Tagspaces can show the contents of various file types, including all image formats and even many video files. It will show up on a third page, right of the file-list.

tagspaces-display-contents

The list of supported file formats varies across platforms, but it is extensive and growing constantly. It does of course make Tagspaces much more than just a file browser, but what really sets this piece of software aside is the ability to edit text, MarkDown and HTML files.

Depending on the filetype, a different editor will appear. The markdown editor is as simple as it gets, but the changes show even as you type (like bold and italics), or it offers some colour hints (bullets, and tabbed paragraphs are blue, headings are bold and blue, etc.).

tagspaces-markdown-editor

There is no button to switch from the editor screen back to overview. Double-clicking the file name will do the trick. It is quite different from the usual two pane MD editors and probably makes more sense too.

tagspaces-markdown-preview

The rich text editor (for HTML files) will offer the expected basic formatting toolbar

tagspaces-rich-text-editor

and a handy code view for straight HTML formatting.

tagspaces-rich-text-editor-code

Tagspaces is way more capable than it would seem from the above short introduction. It can effectively replace Evernote or similar applications and your regular file manager. It has plenty of potential and is being constantly developed. The project is hosted on GitHub, and users are most welcome to contribute to it, or you can modify it for your own personal use if you like. It is a powerful open project, and eventually it will become what its users make of it. For more information, and an introduction to various use-cases, you should check out the Tagspaces’s FAQ and tutorials, yet the best way to acquaint yourself with this excellent piece of software is to start using it right away.