beet - music tagger and library organizer

NAME  SYNOPSIS  COMMANDS  import  list  remove  modify  move  update  write  stats  fields  config  GLOBAL FLAGS  SHELL COMPLETION  zsh  SEE ALSO  AUTHOR  COPYRIGHT 


beet − music tagger and library organizer


beet [argsâ¦] command [argsâ¦]
beet help



beet import [−CWAPRqst] [−l LOGPATH] PATH...
beet import [options] −L QUERY

Add music to your library, attempting to get correct tags for it from MusicBrainz.

Point the command at some music: directories, single files, or compressed archives. The music will be copied to a configurable directory structure and added to a library database. The command is interactive and will try to get you to verify MusicBrainz tags that it thinks are suspect. See the autotagging guide for detail on how to use the interactive tag−correction flow.

Directories passed to the import command can contain either a single album or many, in which case the leaf directories will be considered albums (the latter case is true of typical Artist/Album organizations and many peopleâs âdownloadsâ folders). The path can also be a single song or an archive. Beets supports zip and tar archives out of the box. To extract rar files, install the rarfile package and the unrar command. To extract 7z files, install the py7zr package.

Optional command flags:

By default, the command copies files to your library directory and updates the ID3 tags on your music. In order to move the files, instead of copying, use the −m (move) option. If youâd like to leave your music files untouched, try the −C (donât copy) and −W (donât write tags) options. You can also disable this behavior by default in the configuration file (below).

Also, you can disable the autotagging behavior entirely using −A (donât autotag)âthen your music will be imported with its existing metadata.

During a long tagging import, it can be useful to keep track of albums that werenât tagged successfullyâeither because theyâre not in the MusicBrainz database or because somethingâs wrong with the files. Use the −l option to specify a filename to log every time you skip an album or import it âas−isâ or an album gets skipped as a duplicate.

Relatedly, the −q (quiet) option can help with large imports by autotagging without ever bothering to ask for user input. Whenever the normal autotagger mode would ask for confirmation, the quiet mode pessimistically skips the album. The quiet mode also disables the taggerâs ability to resume interrupted imports.

Speaking of resuming interrupted imports, the tagger will prompt you if it seems like the last import of the directory was interrupted (by you or by a crash). If you want to skip this prompt, you can say âyesâ automatically by providing −p or ânoâ using −P. The resuming feature can be disabled by default using a configuration option (see below).

If you want to import only the new stuff from a directory, use the −i option to run an incremental import. With this flag, beets will keep track of every directory it ever imports and avoid importing them again. This is useful if you have an âincomingâ directory that you periodically add things to. To get this to work correctly, youâll need to use an incremental import every time you run an import on the directory in questionâincluding the first time, when no subdirectories will be skipped. So consider enabling the incremental configuration option.

When beets applies metadata to your music, it will retain the value of any existing tags that werenât overwritten, and import them into the database. You may prefer to only use existing metadata for finding matches, and to erase it completely when new metadata is applied. You can enforce this behavior with the −−from−scratch option, or the from_scratch configuration option.

By default, beets will proceed without asking if it finds a very close metadata match. To disable this and have the importer ask you every time, use the −t (for timid) option.

The importer typically works in a whole−album−at−a−time mode. If you instead want to import individual, non−album tracks, use the singleton mode by supplying the −s option.

If you have an album thatâs split across several directories under a common top directory, use the −−flat option. This takes all the music files under the directory (recursively) and treats them as a single large album instead of as one album per directory. This can help with your more stubborn multi−disc albums.

Similarly, if you have one directory that contains multiple albums, use the −−group−albums option to split the files based on their metadata before matching them as separate albums.

If you want to preview which files would be imported, use the −−pretend option. If set, beets will just print a list of files that it would otherwise import.

If you already have a metadata backend ID that matches the items to be imported, you can instruct beets to restrict the search to that ID instead of searching for other candidates by using the −−search−id SEARCH_ID option. Multiple IDs can be specified by simply repeating the option several times.

You can supply −−set field=value to assign field to value on import. These assignments will merge with (and possibly override) the set_fields configuration dictionary. You can use the option multiple times on the command line, like so:

beet import −−set genre="Alternative Rock" −−set mood="emotional"


beet list [−apf] QUERY

Queries the database for music.

Want to search for âGronlandic Editâ by of Montreal? Try beet list gronlandic. Maybe you want to see everything released in 2009 with âvegetablesâ in the title? Try beet list year:2009 title:vegetables. You can also specify the sort order. (Read more in query.)

You can use the −a switch to search for albums instead of individual items. In this case, the queries you use are restricted to album−level fields: for example, you can search for year:1969 but query parts for item−level fields like title:foo will be ignored. Remember that artist is an item−level field; albumartist is the corresponding album field.

The −p option makes beets print out filenames of matched items, which might be useful for piping into other Unix commands (such as xargs). Similarly, the −f option lets you specify a specific format with which to print every album or track. This uses the same template syntax as beetsâ path formats. For example, the command beet ls −af '$album: $albumtotal' beatles prints out the number of tracks on each Beatles album. In Unix shells, remember to enclose the template argument in single quotes to avoid environment variable expansion.


beet remove [−adf] QUERY

Remove music from your library.

This command uses the same query syntax as the list command. By default, it just removes entries from the library database; it doesnât touch the files on disk. To actually delete the files, use the −d flag. When the −a flag is given, the command operates on albums instead of individual tracks.

When you run the remove command, it prints a list of all affected items in the library and asks for your permission before removing them. You can then choose to abort (type n), confirm (y), or interactively choose some of the items (s). In the latter case, the command will prompt you for every matching item or album and invite you to type y to remove the item/album, n to keep it or q to exit and only remove the items/albums selected up to this point. This option lets you choose precisely which tracks/albums to remove without spending too much time to carefully craft a query. If you do not want to be prompted at all, use the −f option.


beet modify [−MWay] [−f FORMAT] QUERY [FIELD=VALUE...] [FIELD!...]

Change the metadata for items or albums in the database.

Supply a query matching the things you want to change and a series of field=value pairs. For example, beet modify genius of love artist="Tom Tom Club" will change the artist for the track âGenius of Love.â To remove fields (which is only possible for flexible attributes), follow a field name with an exclamation point: field!.

The −a switch operates on albums instead of individual tracks. Without this flag, the command will only change track−level data, even if all the tracks belong to the same album. If you want to change an album−level field, such as year or albumartist, youâll want to use the −a flag to avoid a confusing situation where the data for individual tracks conflicts with the data for the whole album.

Items will automatically be moved around when necessary if theyâre in your library directory, but you can disable that with −M. Tags will be written to the files according to the settings you have for imports, but these can be overridden with −w (write tags, the default) and −W (donât write tags).

When you run the modify command, it prints a list of all affected items in the library and asks for your permission before making any changes. You can then choose to abort the change (type n), confirm (y), or interactively choose some of the items (s). In the latter case, the command will prompt you for every matching item or album and invite you to type y to apply the changes, n to discard them or q to exit and apply the selected changes. This option lets you choose precisely which data to change without spending too much time to carefully craft a query. To skip the prompts entirely, use the −y option.


beet move [−capt] [−d DIR] QUERY

Move or copy items in your library.

This command, by default, acts as a library consolidator: items matching the query are renamed into your library directory structure. By specifying a destination directory with −d manually, you can move items matching a query anywhere in your filesystem. The −c option copies files instead of moving them. As with other commands, the −a option matches albums instead of items. The −e flag (for âexportâ) copies files without changing the database.

To perform a âdry runâ, just use the −p (for âpretendâ) flag. This will show you a list of files that would be moved but wonât actually change anything on disk. The −t option sets the timid mode which will ask again before really moving or copying the files.


beet update [−F] FIELD [−aM] QUERY

Update the library (and, by default, move files) to reflect out−of−band metadata changes and file deletions.

This will scan all the matched files and read their tags, populating the database with the new values. By default, files will be renamed according to their new metadata; disable this with −M. Beets will skip files if their modification times have not changed, so any out−of−band metadata changes must also update these for beet update to recognise that the files have been edited.

To perform a âdry runâ of an update, just use the −p (for âpretendâ) flag. This will show you all the proposed changes but wonât actually change anything on disk.

By default, all the changed metadata will be populated back to the database. If you only want certain fields to be written, specify them with the `−F` flags (which can be used multiple times). For the list of supported fields, please see `beet fields`.

When an updated track is part of an album, the album−level fields of all tracks from the album are also updated. (Specifically, the command copies album−level data from the first track on the album and applies it to the rest of the tracks.) This means that, if album−level fields arenât identical within an album, some changes shown by the update command may be overridden by data from other tracks on the same album. This means that running the update command multiple times may show the same changes being applied.


beet write [−pf] [QUERY]

Write metadata from the database into filesâ tags.

When you make changes to the metadata stored in beetsâ library database (during import or with the modify command, for example), you often have the option of storing changes only in the database, leaving your files untouched. The write command lets you later change your mind and write the contents of the database into the files. By default, this writes the changes only if there is a difference between the database and the tags in the file.

You can think of this command as the opposite of update.

The −p option previews metadata changes without actually applying them.

The −f option forces a write to the file, even if the file tags match the database. This is useful for making sure that enabled plugins that run on write (e.g., the Scrub and Zero plugins) are run on the file.


beet stats [−e] [QUERY]

Show some statistics on your entire library (if you donât provide a query) or the matched items (if you do).

By default, the command calculates file sizes using their bitrate and duration. The −e (−−exact) option reads the exact sizes of each file (but is slower). The exact mode also outputs the exact duration in seconds.


beet fields

Show the item and album metadata fields available for use in query and pathformat. The listing includes any template fields provided by plugins and any flexible attributes youâve manually assigned to your items and albums.


beet config [−pdc]
beet config −e

Show or edit the user configuration. This command does one of three things:

With no options, print a YAML representation of the current user configuration. With the −−default option, beetsâ default options are also included in the dump.

The −−path option instead shows the path to your configuration file. This can be combined with the −−default flag to show where beets keeps its internal defaults.

By default, sensitive information like passwords is removed when dumping the configuration. The −−clear option includes this sensitive data.

With the −−edit option, beets attempts to open your config file for editing. It first tries the $EDITOR environment variable and then a fallback option depending on your platform: open on OS X, xdg−open on Unix, and direct invocation on Windows.


Beets has a few âglobalâ flags that affect all commands. These must appear between the executable name (beet) and the commandâfor example, beet −v import ....

−l LIBPATH: specify the library database file to use.

−d DIRECTORY: specify the library root directory.

−v: verbose mode; prints out a deluge of debugging information. Please use this flag when reporting bugs. You can use it twice, as in −vv, to make beets even more verbose.

−c FILE: read a specified YAML configuration file. This configuration works as an overlay: rather than replacing your normal configuration options entirely, the two are merged. Any individual options set in this config file will override the corresponding settings in your base configuration.

−p plugins: specify a comma−separated list of plugins to enable. If specified, the plugin list in your configuration is ignored. The long form of this argument also allows specifying no plugins, effectively disabling all plugins: −−plugins=.

Beets also uses the BEETSDIR environment variable to look for configuration and data.


Beets includes support for shell command completion. The command beet completion prints out a bash 3.2 script; to enable completion put a line like this into your .bashrc or similar file:

eval "$(beet completion)"

Or, to avoid slowing down your shell startup time, you can pipe the beet completion output to a file and source that instead.

You will also need to source the bash−completion script, which is probably available via your package manager. On OS X, you can install it via Homebrew with brew install bash−completion; Homebrew will give you instructions for sourcing the script.

The completion script suggests names of subcommands and (after typing ) options of the given command. If you are using a command that accepts a query, the script will also complete field names.

beet list ar[TAB]
# artist:  artist_credit:  artist_sort:  artpath:
beet list artp[TAB]
beet list artpath\:

(Donât worry about the slash in front of the colon: this is a escape sequence for the shell and wonât be seen by beets.)

Completion of plugin commands only works for those plugins that were enabled when running beet completion. If you add a plugin later on you will want to re−generate the script.


If you use zsh, take a look at the included completion script. The script should be placed in a directory that is part of your fpath, and not sourced in your .zshrc. Running echo $fpath will give you a list of valid directories.

Another approach is to use zshâs bash completion compatibility. This snippet defines some bash−specific functions to make this work without errors:

autoload bashcompinit
_get_comp_words_by_ref() { :; }
compopt() { :; }
_filedir() { :; }
eval "$(beet completion)"




Adrian Sampson


2016, Adrian Sampson

Updated 2024-01-29 - |