Home OS X Tweeks Restore File Name Label Colours in Mavericks

Restore File Name Label Colours in Mavericks


For me the main reason to use coloured labels in OS X was that Finder would completely highlight the file/folder-name of any labelled items. This made it very easy to quickly identify files and folders according to my labelling system and methodology.

You’ll see plenty of other people complaining about this new “feature” in many threads on the Apple forums. Here’s one example: https://discussions.apple.com/message/26196641

Here’s a picture illustrating the issue:


Only today I finally updated to Mavericks (10.9.3). I didn’t want to update previously because Apple, in their bisdom, decided to remove another crucial feature from my workflow. Namely, the ability to sync my iPod/iPhone without sending all my private data onto their iCloud service. As of 10.9.3 this feature has been restored to its rightful glory. So, update to Mavericks I did.

Now I discover the change over from “labels” to “tags” has meant the colouring option has been reduced to a tiny little dot. If I had wanted an LSD sized micro-dot next to my files, I suppose this would be okay. Whether it’s LSD that Apple developers are taking, or something else, I can’t say. But I want my files and folders completely highlighted in colour. Here’s the free solution.

I have shared about XtraFinder in previous posts. It now has an additional feature, especially for Mavericks. It’s called, “Legacy label color painting”. Check out the image below:

XtraFinder Preferences

You can get XtraFinder here: http://www.trankynam.com/xtrafinder/

If you’ve not already installed XtraFinder, go ahead and do so.

If you have, make sure it’s up-to-date.

If you need to activate this feature, do so. You will likely have to restart Finder. You can “Kill” Finder using the Activity Monitor or using the Command line in Terminal.app. Type in the following:

killall -KILL Finder

The, back in OS X, run XtraFinder.app. Open a new Finder window. Voila… label (tag) colours now highlight the whole filename. Enjoy


An alternative to XtraFinder is TotalFinder, which I’ve written about before. TotalFinder also provides a means to restore legacy label-like Tag colour handling. However, TotalFinder costs US$18, whilst XtraFinder is free.


  1. Thanks Jonathan,
    Apple’s replacement of Labels, with Tags, has been an issue that I catch myself grumbling about several times a week since upgrading to Mavericks. XtraFinder.app looks like the simplest remedy (now). Looking forward to seeing Labels again.

    • Hi Bernie, Yes, XtraFinder is the best option. AND as of the last day or so version 0.21 was release, which fixes the bug on how dragging of files was messed up when Legacy labels mode was activated.

    • Hello Kumpel,
      Thanks for your message. Yes, TotalFinder will also sort this out. I’ve now added a note mentioning this.
      However, TotalFinder costs US$18, whilst XtraFinder is free. Hence I didn’t mention TotalFinder as I don’t believe people should have to pay to fix what Apple has broken.
      Of course, for people who already have a TotalFinder license, that’s the best way to resolve the label/tag colouring issue.

  2. curious if I update to maverick will Total finder will pick up all the labels I used on files/folders before installing Total finder or will I have to go back and guess what I did before installing total finder. The Mac OS tags team totally mis-understand how ppl use labels and why. Either they did no research didn’t care.

    • Hi John, The labels in TotalFinder are from Finder / OS X. So it is not replacing or adding over the existing label system. It’s just providing a means to display them the way you were able to pre-Mavericks.

  3. Jonathan…this is so GREAT. I hate those tiny dots. Just discovered this tip while searching for an epub quick look plugin, which brought me your great collection of tips. Thanks a million. This is a great service.

  4. Hi Jonathan,

    I really hope you can help. I tried installing Extrafinder and it seems to have broken my Finder… I’m using 10.9.4

    When I open the finder window now the screen doesn’t work and all I can see in the finder window is the window of what was behind it before. Have you come across anything like this before?

    Can I undo everything somehow? I’ve tried uninstalling it but no joy.

    • Interesting. I’ve come across a few bugs, but nothing as serious as what you (DTP) and Martin have indicated.
      I encourage you to let the developer know what happened. Hopefully it will get resolved.
      I am using it on 10.9.4 without any major issues. Sorry to hear it didn’t work as well on your system.
      TotalFinder is likely the next best bet.

    • Nope, I hoped Apple would bring colored folder names back in Yosemite, BESIDE the GREAT tag option.
      COloured folders also are great, for users, unfortunately not for Cupertino people 🙁

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