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I have a bunch of files sorted into folders on a Windows share, and I would like to attach some metadata to them. The files are mostly datasheets (.PDF) and tools (.ZIP, .EXE). I would like to be able to say a file belongs to a certain project, or a certain device, by using tags or maybe custom taxonomies.

I imagine you would have a window which would show you the file system, and you can add tags there, and search for files according to certain criteria. Optionally, it could integrate into Windows Explorer, although I found the existing metadata tools in Explorer insufficient.

I know something similar exists for managing PDFs, like Zotero or Papers. However I could not find a solution for general files. Can you recommend any solution?

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If you are really serious about tagging, using taxonomies, and searching using them, then I would suggest a document management system such as Alfresco.

Pros:

  • You can add metadata to any type of file, be it a PDF or a GIF or even some unknown binary format
  • Metadata can be of several types:
    • Tags: Lightweight, you can create new tags on the fly
    • Categories: More rigid, you have to define a hierarchy of them in the admin
    • Custom metadata: For instance a latitude/longitude, a barcode, a price, really anything you want
  • Search is powerful and fast, for instance you can search for all PDFs with the tag "invoice" that were created in 2007 by Joe, have a "price" attribute above 100 EUR, and contain the word "forklift".

Cons:

The files are stored inside Alfresco. Alfresco and its database run on your computer. You can access your files via a web interface, or "mount" the folder containing your documents as a virtual filesystem using WebDAV or CmisSync (disclaimer: made by me)

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