I have checked several "Tracker Search Tool" questions, but they all stop at very superficial usage. Google, at least for me, didn't turn out anything either. I am using Maverick, 10.10.

Here is my situation and workflow: I am studying for a Masters, and writing academic essays. Through my university, I have access to multiple academic journals, and their articles are in PDF. So when I'm writing one of my essays, this is what I do:

  • I have all the PDF files that I found online, in a folder, organized in subfolders. I also have a few ebooks, in PDF format. And some articles in HTML and Office .doc formats (that I usually convert to .odt).

  • As I write, I use Tracker Search Tool to find and add references from within my downloaded articles and ebooks. It's like having a mini-Google within materials that I know I have, and that I know it's academically appropriate.

  • However, I work on several subjects, and right now, to use Tracker Search Tool but limit the results to one of the subjects (all the materials for that subject are in a specific folder), I need to stop tracker, delete the databases, change the indexed locations to the one specific to the current subject, and re-index everything.

Does the Tracker Search Tool have any special syntax that I can use to limit results to a specific folder/subfolder within the indexed locations? Does anyone have a link to help on this specific tool? The GNOME page for the Tracker project doesn't have anything.

3 Answers 3


The best app I found for doing advanced full text searches is regexxer it was a god send for editing website files. Regexxer is available in the Software center.


Hope this helps.

  • Does this search in OpenOffice/LibreOffice documents and PDFs? Especially PDFs, as I download academic articles in that format, and have no other option. I just noticed that I didn't specify this in my question. Oops!
    – UrkoM
    Mar 12, 2011 at 10:26
  • I think you would need to create a script to extract the text from the pdf then search the text but adding an example of your work flow to you original question would make it easier to provide a tailored answer
    – Allan
    Mar 12, 2011 at 11:26
  • Good idea, I'll edit my question. I have also noticed that tracker-search, a command-line tool, can give me the filenames, including full path. So the information is definitely there, and I can probably use that with grep to get what I want. But I like the graphical interface better.
    – UrkoM
    Mar 13, 2011 at 3:33

I know this is not really about tracker, but looking at your workflow (and thus answering an underlying question), I would definitely recommend taking a look at Mendeley. It's a scientific reference and literature database software, advanced search, full text search, tagging, annotating pdf's, automatic .bib files etc. It's what I use for managing my thesis' literature, and I love it.

Edit: Since this post was written, Mendeley sold (out) to Elsevier. An open-source alternative is Zotero.

  • Wow, that one looks really really good. Something totally different, but I'm definitely going to check it out. But I wonder about uploading full blown ebooks to it? Would that be ok?
    – UrkoM
    Mar 15, 2011 at 14:02
  • It's actually a software, so everything happens and is stored on your computer. As an additional gimmick, you get 500MB to back up your records (and files, too, if you choose to) in the cloud. This also comes with features like networking, searching related articles other members have in their libraries, etc, but is by no means mandatory.
    – Christoph
    Mar 16, 2011 at 9:43
  • Yeah, I noticed. I didn't like much that by default it will upload all the documents you add to it to their server, if you have created an account with them. But I noticed and I was able to abort that. For the rest, it looks really REALLY good!! I still would like to get Tracker sorted out, though, for other uses, so I'll wait before giving this answer to you :)
    – UrkoM
    Mar 17, 2011 at 1:28
  • Consider the great free and open source alternative to Mendeley: Zotero. Jul 14, 2017 at 23:30

Tracker Search is a GUI frontend for tracker that allows filtering the search results by file path. However, the paths must be entered in the configuration file ~/.config/tracker_search/settings.conf before starting the program. Each path entered will appear in the GUI as a checkbox.

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