Add and Display File Comments


Add and Display File Comments
Mac Tip #393, 15 July 2009

Maureen added a comment to this MacTip: Show Information in Finder List View:

How do you get the comments into the comment column?? I want to be able to sort by comments, but I can’t figure out where I type the text to show up in the comment column

She was talking, of course, about the Comments column in the Finder List and CoverFlow views.

The Comments column is not displayed by default. Even if it is displayed though, it’s not obvious how to add a Comment to a file.

Add metadata

Metadata is information about a file. For example, I may have a movie of my mum with the cat and the dog. I may also have other movies of my mum, and other movies of cats and dogs.

I could add keywords such as mum, cat and dog, to each file so that when I’m looking at them all in a list in the Finder it’s easy to identify any particular movie.

To be able to sort them, of course, I’d have to be careful to always use the same sequence if there are multiple keywords for a file.

How to display the Comments field

Turn on the Finder Comments Column in the View Options

Turn on the Finder Comments Column in the View Options

The Comments column is not displayed in Finder windows by default, so you have to choose to display it. It will only be visible in List view or in CoverFlow view.

To display the Comments column:

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. Set the Finder window to either List view or CoverFlow view.
  3. Choose Show View Options from the View menu. The View Options window appears.
  4. Check the box beside Comments in the Show Columns section. The Comments column is added to the Finder window.
  5. Close the View Options window.

How to add Comments

This metadata is also used by Spotlight to help find files you need. That’s why you add your metadata to the Spotlight Comments field in the Get Info window:

  1. Select a file in the Finder.
  2. Choose Get Info from the File menu. The Get Info inspector window opens.
  3. If necessary, click the disclosure triangle beside the Spotlight Comments area to reveal the text entry area.
  4. Type your keywords or other metadata into the Spotlight Comments field.
  5. Close the Get Info window. The metadata you entered into the Spotlight Comments field is now displayed in the Comments column of a Finder List or CoverFlow view window.

Watch the video

Remember to watch the video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dIVj5XjzXM

Note: the next Tip will show how this metadata affects Spotlight searches.

Have you added metadata to a file through the Spotlight Comments area in the Get Info window? How has that worked for you?

Add your comments below.

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14 Comments

  1. djp said:

    I just want to say thanks for this tip.

    I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but never that I could. It’s very useful.

  2. Lisa said:

    It’s not just “read only” that is the problem I’ve discovered. In some cases you have to click the little wheel at the bottom of the Get Info screen and select “make xxx the owner” — xxx is you! This seems to be prevalent where “system” is listed in the sharing permissions. I guess system owns the files and won’t let you add comments.

  3. Miraz Jordan said:

    James: if you select multiple items and choose Command Control i then a ‘Multiple Items Info’ window appears where you can change various properties such as which application opens those files, and sharing permissions.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t make the File Comments area available.

    An Applescript may do the job. I tried the script mentioned on this page on 4 files and it added the comment I supplied to all 4 files:

    http://www.mactipper.com/2009/03/welcome2mac-spotlight-comments-and.html

    If it works for you, please let us know.

  4. James said:

    Is there a way to change comments for multiple files at the same time?

    • Danny said:

      If you use Pathfinder (www.cocoatech.com) the ‘Multiple Items Info’ window DOES make the file comments field available. (See Miraz’s comment below.) …just one way Pathfinder is superuseful.

  5. Miraz Jordan said:

    H Maureen,

    it’s so satisfying to achieve a ‘fix’ like this. Glad we could get it sorted. :-)

  6. Maureen Small said:

    Once again, you came to the rescue! Yes, that was the problem – those two were marked “read only” for me, which I was able to change. Thanks!

  7. Miraz Jordan said:

    Maureen: try this. Identify one file where comments do work, and another they don’t. Then Get Info on both and compare. Look at Sharing and Permissions at the botto of the Get Info window. You may need to expand the disclosure triangle.

    If you see differences try to set the uncooperative file to be the same as the one that works. To make changes you may need to click the padlock and enter the password for your computer.

  8. Maureen Small said:

    I checked the locked box right away, and it is not checked. All of the files are on the same drive, but I do wonder if when they were created, someone set permissions that I’m unaware of. It’s not a huge deal because I’ve so far only come across 2 out of about 100, but it is perplexing and a bit annoying!

  9. Miraz Jordan said:

    Maureen: obviously the name and file size would be different, but is anything else different between files where you can and cannot add comments?

    I wonder if some files are on a different drive, or in a directory where you don’t have permissions to edit them?

    Or are the problem files Locked? You would need to uncheck the ‘Locked’ checkbox, add the comment and then lock them again.

  10. Maureen Small said:

    Any idea why every so often I get one file that won’t let me add a comment? I just can’t get a cursor to appear in the Spotlight comment box. All the files I’m doing are video files of some kind, but it doesn’t seem to be related to the extension – works on some MPEG or avi files, but not on others.

  11. Pat Rosier said:

    Another great tip. I’m writing comments on files all over the place! Especially useful for showing what version of a poem or short story I have entered in a competition – much better – more specific – than colour coding the file. Not as much fun as my new ipod touch, but v v useful. Thank you, Miraz

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