How to delete tags in Gist (some of the time)

I’m making this tutorial because I’m in the process of removing everything from my Gist account. Not because I’m leaving Gist–not by a long shot. But because I had tried to make Gist do a lot more than it was good at. Since Gist doesn’t have a category feature, I tried to make the tagging feature into one by using underscores and stuff.

This, needless to say, ended up being more overhead than it was worth and added a ton of clutter to my use of Gist. My decision to streamline how I use Gist into a more single-purpose tool instead of a full on social CRM tool is what led me to try to delete my existing tags from Gist.

The lesson learned here is, before loading up Gist with contacts and going crazy with tags, think it through–it isn’t easy to undo or revert things. Figure out exactly how you’re going to use Gist before really configuring it much. Here is Gist’s page on adding tags (they don’t have one for deleting or editing tags, which is why I made this tutorial).

If, like me, you got a little overly-detailed in your use of tagging then you’ll find yourself wanting to get rid of some of the tags. Unfortunately, Gist’s tagging feature isn’t an area of focus for them right now. This means editing and deleting tags is a little bit complicated. That’s why I made this tutorial.

A key piece of information: since there is no screen for managing tags in Gist, the only way to delete tags is to remove tags from every one of your contacts.

This tutorial is a step-by-step walk-through of how to delete a tag in Gist with the minimum of fuss. Well… ok it’s a little fussy, but it’s the minimum of fuss because there isn’t any other way of doing it that I know of.

Another key piece of information: the instructions in this tutorial don’t always work. I haven’t figured out why they work sometimes and don’t others. Some tags really just won’t go away even when they’ve been removed from all of my contacts. Others will go away when following this tutorial.

1: Go to gist.com

1: Go to gist.com

You’ll have to go to Gist’s website to edit or delete tags in Gist. Their website is Gist.com

2: Click the Login button in the upper righthand corner of Gist

2: Click the Login button in the upper righthand corner of Gist

You’ll have to log in to your Gist account if you want to edit or delete tags in Gist.

3: Log in to Gist

3: Log in to Gist

When the log in screen overlay appears, enter your email (1), your password (2) and then click Sign In (3).

4: You’re at the Gist Dashboard tab, select the People tab

4: You're at the Gist Dashboard tab, select the People tab

When you log in to Gist you are brought to the Dashboard screen. To edit or delete tags in Gist, you need to be on the People screen (I know, I know — it would make more sense to have a “Edit Tags” screen somewhere in the settings but this is the only way I’ve figured out how edit or delete tags in Gist).

5: You’re at the Gist People tab, click on the View dropdown menu and …

5: You're at the Gist People tab, click on the View dropdown menu and ...

Right now, only one contact is showing in the People tab. Click on the View dropdown menu.

6: Select Everyone (including deleted)

6: Select Everyone (including deleted)

From the available options, choose “Everyone (including deleted).”

When you delete contacts from your Gist account they aren’t actually removed from the system. They’re just hidden from your normal view and the info about them doesn’t automatically update for you. However, all the data that is associated with the contact remains. So the “delete” function in Gist really operates more like an Archive function–you can bring people back from right where you left them.

Importantly, to delete tags in Gist you have to remove them from every contact that has the tag–including these “deleted” contacts. So when we’re working here on editing and deleting contacts in Gist you’ll need to be working on everyone (including deleted) if you really want it to work.

7: Whoah! Look at all these “Deleted” Gist contacts!

7: Whoah! Look at all these "Deleted" Gist contacts!

Your “deleted” contacts will appear, a little grayed out (I’ve blurred them here because it’s the right thing to do). Notice that we went from one contact to 2,473 contacts.

8: Show available tags by clicking the downard pointing arrows in the Filter by Tag section.

8: Show available tags by clicking the downard pointing arrows in the Filter by Tag section.

Over on the right of the People Tab in Gist, there’s a “Filter by Tag” option. It will show a few of your tags, but if you want to see all of them, you’ll need to press the arrow thingie.

9: Look at all your tags!

9: Look at all your tags!

Well, maybe not all of your tags. This list sometimes shows more tags or less tags, often while going through the steps in this tutorial. I have no idea why.

10: Select a tag to delete from Gist.

10: Select a tag to delete from Gist.

If you roll your mouse over a tag, the link title will tell you how many contacts have that tag. Pretty cool. Now just click on one that you’re going to get rid of. In the example above, I chose to get rid of my “vendor” tag in Gist.

11: Look at the filtered results.

11: Look at the filtered results.

Once you’ve selected your tag, Gist will filter the contacts to show you just those contacts which have the tag.

Remember, to delete a tag in Gist, we have to remove the tag from every contact (including “deleted” contacts) that uses the tag. Congratulations: we now have the list of those contacts!

12: Use the Select options to select all the contacts that you’ve filtered

12: Use the Select options to select all the contacts that you've filtered

We’re going to need to edit all of the contacts in this filtered set (unless you want to go through each one by one… which you don’t). Just above the “Name” block on the left of the screen is the the Select options.

Choose the one that says “These N” where N is the number of contacts you have. In my example I’ve got 20 so it says “These 20” but yours may have a different number. Don’t sweat it. Just click it.

13: Notice that all the contacts have now been checked.

13: Notice that all the contacts have now been checked.

Once you’ve selected all of the contacts, a check mark will appear in the box next to each name. This means that when we do stuff, we’ll do it to all of these contacts.

14: Use the Actions option to select Tag

14: Use the Actions option to select Tag

We’re going to edit or remove tags from all of these contacts. So click on “Tag.”

15: Hover your pointer over the tag you want to delete from Gist

15: Hover your pointer over the tag you want to delete from Gist

When you hover your pointer over the tag you want to delete from Gist, a blue variation of the “do not enter” traffic sign appears–it looks like a blue circle with a horizontal white bar in it. Why does the world need a blue variation of the “do not enter” sign? Why is there an icon resembling the “do not enter” sign here? And why does the list of tags available not match the list of tags in the Filter by Tag section?

These are questions without answers. Luckily, they don’t matter much for our task of deleting a tag from Gist.

16: Click the blue circle with the white horizontal bar (aka “the blue do not enter sign”) next to the tag you want to delete from Gist.

16: Click the blue circle with the white horizontal bar (aka "the blue do not enter sign") next to the tag you want to delete from Gist.

This will remove your tag from all of the selected contacts. Which should prevent that tag from cluttering up your tag lists. Except when it doesn’t. Which is why the title of this tutorial is “How to delete tags in Gist (some of the time).

I had a handful of tags that I couldn’t get rid of no matter how many times I selected and deleted them. They’d just keep popping back into the list.

Ultimately, I chose the nuclear option: resetting my Gist account back to zero (you can find this in your account settings). This worked for me because my whole usage for Gist was changing to be more straightforward and simiplified. It isn’t a good option for someone who just wants to tweak their tags.

2 Comments

  1. Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    This worked perfect for me. It looks like Gist has been updated since you made this tutorial but the concept still works the same. I found that that “people” and “companies” shares the same tags so you have to do the same process in people as well as in companies to make sure the tags are all deleted. It took a few minutes for my gist to update and take off the extra tags but it did!

    All the tags I wanted removed are gone! It is a little time consuming but you can select all and change the tags for the whole set so that doesn’t take long in the end.

  2. Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Gist has gone through all manner of changes since I wrote this. Good to hear that this still works. Though to be completely frank, I’m not sure how much future there is in Gist.

    Thanks for the update Mary!

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