Mac users luck out when it comes to managing audio files, with exceptional choices like Snapper from AudioEase and the all-powerful AudioFinder, not to mention – if your needs are light – features like Leopard’s QuickLook. Windows users, by contrast, have been mostly left out. But good news: we’ve got a lovely solution for you.

TaggedFrog is a free/donationware utility for Windows XP and Vista that brings some powerful file management facilities. And what’s great here is that it looks dead-simple to use.

Lunar Frog TaggedFrog [Publisher Site, Free Download]

As the name implies, the tool is built around tagging files. Drag and drop files to the iTunes-style Library, then tag them with identifying keywords. That’s it: now the files you need just show up automagically, and you can navigate them by tag. You can also tag directly from a context menu in the Windows Explorer file manager, and if there is keyword metadata in the file itself, TaggedFrog can import those keywords. (For tips on cleaning up that menu, see my previous how-to piece below.)

That’s all nice, but the one essential feature that had been missing is audio file preview. You can thank our friend Brad of Brad Sucks for nagging the developer until it got added:

TaggedFrog adds audio previewing [Brad Sucks Blog]

Important: don’t forget as I did (doh!) that you need an extension to make audio preview work. Look for Croak on the download page. Drag the Croak folder to your [install]/TaggedFrog/extensions, and you’re good to go. An extra “extended information” pane will appear with a play button, optional auto-play, and loop options.

With audio preview, this already-lovely interface is now the perfect tool for managing your audio projects.

Also, what I really like about this approach is that you add only what you need to the library, in ad-hoc fashion. The problem with even the more elegant tools on the Mac OS Finder is that they all tend to assume you want to index huge chunks of your drive, or manage everything from the file system. TaggedFrog by contrast lets you cherry-pick that handful of files you actually need and store metadata about them, while ignoring everything else. You can even move the files when you tag them, so that you actually store them in a logical place instead of … ahem … a random folder in which you happened to leave something.

Of course, if you want actual sample editing and other fancy features in your file utility, you’ll want options like the aforementioned Mac tools. But if you do your editing in other tools anyway and just need to stop losing files, this seems about perfect.

If you start using this and come up with a useful workflow, do let us know. And if you like it, do donate to keep it free.

I know I’ve literally started using this today on my Windows box.


Tips: Fix Windows Explorer, Be Happy