In recent years, a large amount of different types of multimedia applications has been produced and propagated in our daily life. Accordingly, multimedia retrieval has become an important task. This paper proposes a novel Color-Aware Tag (CAT) algorithm for effective image retrieval. The proposed CAT algorithm can be divided into two phases: the offline and the online phases. In the offline phase, CAT prepares a set of color histograms for each specific tag. In the online phase, the tags along with the prepared color histograms are used to facilitate the image retrieval process. We evaluated the CAT algorithm on an image retrieval task by using a Progressive Image Search And Recommendation (PISAR) system. The Waking And Sleeping (WAS) algorithm was also incorporated to improve the performance of the CAT algorithm. Experimental results demonstrate that the CAT algorithm can effectively improve the performance of the image retrieval process.