Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tracker?

It’s a search engine, and a database.

Tracker Miner FS indexes content from your home directory automatically, so applications can provide instant search results when you need them.

What files will Tracker index?

The default configuration of Tracker Miner FS is to look at files and folders in your XDG content directories such as Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. It also looks at files in your home directory and Downloads directory, but it doesn’t recurse into folders there.

You might want to control what Tracker indexes so that it finds files in other places too.

Does Tracker recursively index my home directory?

Not by default. See What files will Tracker index.

How can I control what Tracker indexes?

In GNOME, you can use the Search Settings panel to control what Tracker Miner FS indexes. See GNOME’s documentation.

You can control Tracker Miner FS’s configuration directly using dconf-editor or the gsettings CLI tool. The relevant schemas are org.freedesktop.Tracker.Miner.Files and org.freedesktop.Tracker.Extract.

To tell Tracker Miner FS to ignore a directory and all its contents, you can create an empty file named .nomedia inside the directory. This trick also works on Android devices. Files named .trackerignore, .git and .hg have the same effect. You can configure this behaviour with the org.freedesktop.Tracker.Miner.Files ignored-directories-with-content GSettings key.

When I search, I don’t see all the results I expect. Why?

If a file doesn’t appear in search results, first check that the location is indexed. From the commandline, you can run:

$ tracker3 info $FILENAME

This will show all the information stored about the file, if there is any.

If the file should be indexed but nothing is shown, you can check if there was an error while indexing. Use this command:

$ tracker3 status $FILENAME

Why does Tracker consume resources on my PC?

Memory management in Linux is complex. It’s normal that processes may appear to use 1GB or more of RAM – this number doesn’t directly correspond to physical memory, and it’s only a problem if you get to a low-memory situation and the kernel is unable to reclaim the memory. Tracker Miner FS integrates with the low-memory-monitor service when it’s available, and has a 30 second timeout that asks the system to reclaim the spare memory when indexing is finished.

When you add or edit files, Tracker Miner FS will update its index. This should be very quick, but if a huge number of files are added then it may cause noticably high CPU and IO usage until the new files have been indexed. This is normal.

Tracker is not designed to index directories of source code or video game data. If content like this appears in the locations it is configured to index then you might see unwanted high resource usage.

If you see high resource usage from Tracker Miner FS even when no files have changed on disk, this probably indicates a bug in Tracker or one of its dependencies. See How can I help debug problems with Tracker services?

How can I disable Tracker in GNOME?

Tracker is a core dependency of GNOME, and some things will not work as expected if you disable it completely.

If you are experiencing performance problems, see Why does Tracker consume resources on my PC?

In case of a bug you may need to temporarily stop Tracker Miner FS indexing. The simplest way is to edit the configuration so that no directories are indexed. This should bring resource usage to zero.

If the Tracker Miner FS database is using a lot of disk space, you can run tracker3 reset --filesystem to delete everything stored there.

Can Tracker help me organize my music collection?

At present, Tracker simply reads the metadata stores in your music files (often called ‘tags’).

You may be able to use Gnome Music to correct this metadata using the Musicbrainz database.

Programs that fix tags and organize music collections on disk, such as Beets, work well with Tracker.

How can I help debug problems with Tracker services?

We are always happy when someone wants to help with development, so tell us what you’re debugging and you might get useful pointers.

If you see prolonged spikes in CPU and/or IO usage, you can use these commands to find out what the Tracker daemons are doing. You’ll need to use a Terminal program to run these commands.

journalctl --user --unit=tracker-miner-fs-3.service --unit=tracker-extract-3.service --priority=7

Which versions of Tracker are supported upstream?

Tracker developers advise all users and distributors to use the latest stable release of Tracker. The behavior of older stable releases staying correct and stable can not be guaranteed, thus they become unsupported.

There are two main reasons for this:

The implications of both is the same, handling those situations do not just require incessant updates, but also require active attention. Tracker maintainers backport these fixes on a best effort basis, but do not have the bandwidth to test all combinations induced by different distributions/versions across multiple Tracker branches.