git-annex metadata - sets or gets metadata of a file


git annex metadata [path ...]


The content of an annexed file can have any number of metadata fields attached to it to describe it. Each metadata field can in turn have any number of values.

This command can be used to set metadata, or show the currently set metadata.

When run without any -s or -t parameters, displays the current metadata.

Each metadata field has its own "field-lastchanged" metadata, which contains the date the field was last changed. Unlike other metadata, this cannot be directly modified by this command. It is updated automatically.


  • -g field / --get field

    Get the value(s) of a single field.

    The values will be output one per line, with no other output, so this is suitable for use in a script.

  • -s field=value / --set field=value

    Set a field's value, removing any old values.

  • -s field+=value / --set field+=value

    Add an additional value, preserving any old values.

  • -s field?=value / --set field?=value

    Set a value, but only if the field does not already have a value set.

  • -s field-=value / --set field-=value

    Remove a value from a field, leaving any other values that the field has set.

  • -r field / --remove field

    Remove all current values of the field.

  • -t tag / --tag tag

    Set a tag. Note that a tag is just a value of the "tag" field.

  • -u tag / --unset tag

    Unset a tag.

  • --force

    By default, git annex metadata refuses to recursively set metadata throughout the files in a directory. This option enables such recursive setting.

  • file matching options

    The git-annex-matching-options(1) can be used to specify files to act on.

  • --all

    Specify instead of a file to get/set metadata on all known keys.

  • --branch=ref

    Specify instead of a file to get/set metadata on all files in the specified branch or treeish.

  • --unused

    Specify instead of a file to get/set metadata on files found by last run of git-annex unused.

  • --key=keyname

    Specify instead of a file to get/set metadata of the specified key.

  • --json

    Enable JSON output (and input). Each line is a JSON object.

    The format of the JSON objects changed in git-annex version 6.20160726.

    Example of the new format:


    Example of the old format, which lacks the inner fields object:


  • --batch

    Enables batch mode, which can be used to both get, store, and unset metadata for multiple files or keys.

    Batch currently only supports JSON input. So, you must enable --json along with --batch.

    In batch mode, git-annex reads lines from stdin, which contain JSON objects. It replies to each input with an output JSON object.

    The format of the JSON sent to git-annex can be the same as the JSON that it outputs. Or, a simplified version. Only the "file" (or "key") field is actually necessary.

    For example, to get the current metadata of file foo:


    To get the current metadata of the key k:


    Any metadata fields included in the JSON object will be stored, replacing whatever values the fields had before. To unset a field, include it with an empty list of values.

    To change the author of file foo to bar:


    To remove the author of file foo:



To set some tags on a file and also its author:

git annex metadata annexscreencast.ogv -t video -t screencast -s author+=Alice





Joey Hess

Warning: Automatically converted into a man page by mdwn2man. Edit with care.