You’re probably familiar with hashtags from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. By adding a hash mark (#) to the beginning of a word, you can then see what other people (who also tag their posts) are saying about a subject. For example, you can see discussions about the Big Design conference by searching for the tag #BigD18 on Twitter.

Hashtags are a low-friction, low-commitment tool for organizing information that doesn’t require you to mess around with metadata or complex folder structures. And they’re not just useful for shared information environments; they can also help you keep things organized in your own personal information ecosystem. Since you can use them in any app that accepts plain text, you can use them across many apps.

For example, during any given week I read lots of articles about technology and design. Whether I’m reading on my Mac, iPad, or iPhone, I clip many of these articles into OneNote for later reference. Some of these articles seem like things I’d like to share with subscribers of my newsletter, so I tag them by typing the string #informaction into the body of the note. Later, when I’m writing the next edition of the newsletter, I search my OneNote inbox for this tag and get back a list of candidate links for the newsletter. A time saver!