Once your library reaches a certain size then you start needing codewords to jump to the specific sounds you're looking for quickly. This is especially true with common sounds like impacts, whooshes and UI.

For example, I have a batch of custom UI servo digital sounds that I tag with the word "clix" on them, because I know that if I just search that term nothing else in any of the purchased libraries will show up.

I also have a huge batch of custom impacts that we call "etolls" here because the first batch was inspired by a Robert Etoll library that a director brought into the facility. The library left with the director when the project was finished, but the sounds inspired me to make some of my own. At this point I've built hundreds of our own custom "etolls", and everyone in the facility uses that specific search term to find those specific sounds. (I should change them to Coronados, but that'd throw everyone off) :)

The other helpful thing is that soundminer includes file structure in the search, so I can look for "dapg amb" and get all of the custom ambiances I've recorded here at Dallas Audio Post Group - since all of our custom stuff lives in its own master "DAPG" folder.

I also tend to tag these boutique libraries so that I can find them quickly. I know exactly what I'll get if I look for a "tim seal" or a "rabbit rocket"

So, do you use specific code words to isolate the cream from the rest of the crop when doing sfx searches? What kinds of words do you use?

4 Answers 4


One keyword I tend to use is the project the sound was recorded for, as that is often a good memory prompt eg I need a car with a broken motor & my brain instantly reminds me I recorded a Citreon running on one cylinder for the film Toy Love

I also like that Same Folder button & have it in my SM toolbar


I agree with Tim, adding the show name to the metadata - usually I just use the show's 3-to-4 letter abbreviation. The rest is memory recall for me too.

The Soundminer meta tag that the big libraries use is the SHOW tag, where they load it with 6000, 9000, etc. For the library I administer, I inject SIMCON into the SHOW tag and that's an easy way to keep track of the library.

Also, I usually run complex boolean searches in Soundminer like: backg* simcon -traf* -resi*

That would translate as: I want backgrounds (ambiences) only from the Simultaneous Contrast library, but within those backgrounds results, don't show me anything labelled with traffic or residential identifiers.

It may seem long-winded, yet you get the hang of it pretty fast when learning to both search, and label files, with shorthand like:

resi = residential, traf = traffic, amb = ambience, etc

There really is no exact science to it, and all responses are equally valid. It comes down to what works most effectively for you through trial and error, and studying how the 'big boys' develop their organization schemes - and building off of those. The only 'rule' I can think of is.... the less diversified your global naming/tagging schemes are, the greater the consistency in your searches and isolation abilities.

This also goes to say the following suggestion regarding complex searching ability: don't be overly descriptive in your tagging, because if your meta description says no birds, and then you run a Soundminer search as -birds... the one's labeled as no birds will NOT show up because the word birds is in there, regarless of the no! So you'll be hurting yourself in the end.

P.S. The bird is the word.

  • Hahaha, that last sentence was an awesome ending. Nov 1, 2012 at 3:16

I use a method of classifying with meta tags based on material and interaction. Obviously most sounds are a combination, but it does help me find things more quickly

Material = gas, liquid or solid.

Interaction = impulsive, intermittent or continuous.

Everything is named according to normal conventions i.e. object and action, but the meta tags help me narrow my choices down.

I also take note of pitch, aesthetics and emotions amongst other things.


We've built up a number of sound effects for transitions; flashes, wipes, swish pans, zooms, etc. As we don't have SM we lumped them under a PT workspace catalog titled 'XFX'

  • i like xfx quite a bit. :)
    – Rene
    Jul 24, 2011 at 17:50

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