For me, labels are very useful : they are a way to store info about a peculiar file without having to open the file to make a decison over again about the value of that file. For instance, I use labels to classify files as :
- to be backed up
- to use for client A (or B or C...)
- to keep for every client
- to discuss with the other team members
My only problem with labels is that there weren't ever enough (it has stayed the same since system 6), so it has always limited my use of the concept.
Since I am far away from my Mac, I still have not used OS X (sob !), so I do not know if these limitations still apply (I would think they do).
In personal use, I didn't use the label option (which replaced the "Color" option of Mac OS 6) at all.
I did work in an office where they used label as a means of saying who "owned" the file in a shared file server. It beat sticking prefixes or suffixes on the names of the files and since you could sort by label it made grouping by "owner" easy to do.
My dad liked using label as well. He was on an old black and white Mac SE so the color feature wasn't an issue, but he used just a few applications and had his own filing system of folders for jobs, but he also needed to label the files for what particular part of the job it was related to. Tax Filings, Development, Correspondence, and others that I don't recall. It would have been overkill to stick them each in their own folder inside the job (there were only a small handful of each in a job) but since you could search on labels with Find File, you could quickly see all of your tax filings over all jobs very quickly.
Labels are one of the best least used features about Mac OS. I so wish my windows box at work had them, it instantly without having to change your icon lets you group files together, it was one of the best features ever develop for Mac OS in my opinion. Thank-you Apple, your rock our world.
I didn't think Label was worth much until I started having to use Windows all day at work. How I wish Windows had Labels!
But I think the point of the original post is that there is no Label function in OS X. If you go to the Finder, click on a folder, go to the Views menu, select Show View Options, and choose Global List from the pull-down menu, you'll see the option to include a Label column in a folder window. What is that for, since there are no Labels? Either it's a holdover from the past that will be removed in the release of OS X, or else it is there because there *will* be Labels in the release of OS X.
Unfortunately, it looks like the former is the case. Gone is yet another of the small but dandy features that make "classic" Macintosh such a pleasant and efficient platform to use :-(
the problem with labels is that they're specific to the HFS file system (at least i think they are) OSX is designed to work well on either HFS (mac) or UFS (unix), and Apple is actively trying to reduce the number of non-standard, mac-only things it relies on (resource forks and the like) in order to make things easier cross-platform.
As I wrote earlier, I do not have access to my Mac right now, so I haven't had the chance to install OS X.
This being said, I would hope that the mere mention of labels in OS X would mean that they are something to come. Otherwise, I do not see why the programmers would have gone out of their way to include a user interface for something that will not exist in X.
As for the storability of this info... the "label" feature could use the "Desktop file" as a repository for this info, just as the Finder uses that same file to store the comments on the file.