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:bookmark: Personal mini-web in text

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buku in action!

buku in action!


is a powerful bookmark manager and a personal textual mini-web.

For those who prefer the GUI, bukuserver exposes a browsable front-end on a local web host server.

When I started writing it, I couldn't find a flexible command-line solution with a private, portable, merge-able database along with seamless GUI integration. Hence,


can import bookmarks from browser(s) or fetch the title, tags and description of a URL from the web. Use your favourite editor to add, compose and update bookmarks. Search bookmarks instantly with multiple search options, including regex and a deep scan mode (handy with URLs).

It can look up broken links on Wayback Machine. There's an Easter Egg to revisit random bookmarks.

There's no tracking, hidden history, obsolete records, usage analytics or homing.

To get started right away, jump to the Quickstart section.

has one of the best documentation around. The man page comes with examples. For internal details, please refer to the operational notes.

is a library too! There are several related projects, including a browser plug-in.

Table of Contents


  • Store bookmarks with auto-fetched title, tags and description
  • Auto-import from Firefox, Google Chrome and Chromium
  • Open bookmarks and search results in browser
  • Shorten, expand URLs, browse cached page from Wayback Machine
  • Text editor integration
  • Lightweight, clean interface, custom colors
  • Powerful search options (regex, substring...)
  • Continuous search with on the fly mode switch
  • Portable, merge-able database to sync between systems
  • Import/export bookmarks from/to HTML, Markdown or Orgfile
  • Smart tag management using redirection (>>, >, <<)
  • Multi-threaded full DB refresh, manual encryption support
  • Shell completion scripts, man page with examples
  • Privacy-aware (no unconfirmed user data collection)



| Feature | Dependency | | --- | --- | | Lang, SQLite | Python 3.6+ | | HTTPS | certifi, urllib3 | | Encryption | cryptography | | HTML | beautifulsoup4, html5lib |

To copy URL to clipboard

) on Linux,
(default installed) on OS X,
(default installed) on Windows,
on Termux (terminal emulation for Android),
on Wayland. If X11 is missing, GNU Screen or tmux copy-paste buffers are recognized.

From a package manager

To install buku with all its dependencies from PyPI, run:

# pip3 install buku

You can also install

from your package manager. If the version available is dated try an alternative installation method.
Packaging status (expand)

Packaging status

Unlisted packagers:

PyPI (pip3 install buku)
● Termux (pip3 install buku)

Release packages

Auto-generated packages (with only the cli component) for Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE Leap and Ubuntu are available with the latest stable release.

NOTE: CentOS may not have the python3-beautifulsoup4 package in the repos. Install it using pip3.

From source

If you have git installed, clone this repository. Otherwise download the latest stable release or development version (risky).

Install the dependencies. For example, on Ubuntu:

$ apt-get install ca-certificates python3-urllib3 python3-cryptography python3-bs4

Install the cli component to default location (

$ sudo make install

To remove, run:

$ sudo make uninstall

is supported, in case you want to install to a different location.

Running standalone

is a standalone utility. From the containing directory, run:
$ chmod +x buku
$ ./buku

Shell completion

Shell completion scripts for Bash, Fish and Zsh can be found in respective subdirectories of auto-completion/. Please refer to your shell's manual for installation instructions.


Command-line options

usage: buku [OPTIONS] [KEYWORD [KEYWORD ...]]

Bookmark manager like a text-based mini-web.


GENERAL OPTIONS: -a, --add URL [tag, ...] bookmark URL with comma-separated tags -u, --update [...] update fields of an existing bookmark accepts indices and ranges refresh title and desc if no edit options if no arguments: - update results when used with search - otherwise refresh all titles and desc -w, --write [editor|index] edit and add a new bookmark in editor else, edit bookmark at index in EDITOR edit last bookmark, if index=-1 if no args, edit new bookmark in EDITOR -d, --delete [...] remove bookmarks from DB accepts indices or a single range if no arguments: - delete results when used with search - otherwise delete all bookmarks -h, --help show this information and exit -v, --version show the program version and exit

EDIT OPTIONS: --url keyword bookmark link --tag [+|-] [...] comma-separated tags clear bookmark tagset, if no arguments '+' appends to, '-' removes from tagset --title [...] bookmark title; if no arguments: -a: do not set title, -u: clear title -c, --comment [...] notes or description of the bookmark clears description, if no arguments --immutable N disable web-fetch during auto-refresh N=0: mutable (default), N=1: immutable

SEARCH OPTIONS: -s, --sany [...] find records with ANY matching keyword this is the default search option -S, --sall [...] find records matching ALL the keywords special keywords - "blank": entries with empty title/tag "immutable": entries with locked title --deep match substrings ('pen' matches 'opens') -r, --sreg expr run a regex search -t, --stag [tag [,|+] ...] [- tag, ...] search bookmarks by tags use ',' to find entries matching ANY tag use '+' to find entries matching ALL tags excludes entries with tags after ' - ' list all tags, if no search keywords -x, --exclude [...] omit records matching specified keywords

ENCRYPTION OPTIONS: -l, --lock [N] encrypt DB in N (default 8) # iterations -k, --unlock [N] decrypt DB in N (default 8) # iterations

POWER TOYS: --ai auto-import from Firefox/Chrome/Chromium -e, --export file export bookmarks to Firefox format HTML export Markdown, if file ends with '.md' format: title export Orgfile, if file ends with '.org' format: *[[url][title]] :tags: export buku DB, if file ends with '.db' combines with search results, if opted -i, --import file import bookmarks based on file extension supports 'html', 'json', 'md', 'org', 'db' -p, --print [...] show record details by indices, ranges print all bookmarks, if no arguments -n shows the last n results (like tail) -f, --format N limit fields in -p or JSON search output N=1: URL; N=2: URL, tag; N=3: title; N=4: URL, title, tag; N=5: title, tag; N0 (10, 20, 30, 40, 50) omits DB index -j, --json [file] JSON formatted output for -p and search. prints to stdout if argument missing. otherwise writes to given file --colors COLORS set output colors in five-letter string --nc disable color output -n, --count N show N results per page (default 10) --np do not show the subprompt, run and exit -o, --open [...] browse bookmarks by indices and ranges open a random bookmark, if no arguments --oa browse all search results immediately --replace old new replace old tag with new tag everywhere delete old tag, if new tag not specified --shorten index|URL fetch shortened url from service --expand index|URL expand a shortened url --cached index|URL browse a cached page from Wayback Machine --suggest show similar tags when adding bookmarks --tacit reduce verbosity, skip some confirmations --nostdin do not wait for input (must be first arg) --threads N max network connections in full refresh default N=4, min N=1, max N=10 -V check latest upstream version available -g, --debug show debug information and verbose logs

SYMBOLS: > url + comment # tags

PROMPT KEYS: 1-N browse search result indices and/or ranges O [id|range [...]] open search results/indices in GUI browser toggle try GUI browser if no arguments a open all results in browser s keyword [...] search for records with ANY keyword S keyword [...] search for records with ALL keywords d match substrings ('pen' matches 'opened') r expression run a regex search t [tag, ...] search by tags; show taglist, if no args g taglist id|range [...] [>>|>|<


supports custom colors. Visit the wiki page on how to customize colors for more details.


  1. Export
    to point to your favourite editor. Note that
    takes precedence over
  2. Create a sweeter shortcut with some convenience.

    alias b='buku --suggest'

  3. Auto-import bookmarks from your browser(s). Please quit the relevant browsers beforehand to ensure the databases are not locked.

    b --ai

  4. Manually add a bookmark (for hands-on).

    b -w

  5. List your bookmarks with DB index.

    b -p

  6. For GUI and browser integration (or to sync bookmarks with your favourite bookmark management service) refer to the wiki page on System integration.

  7. Quick (bash/zsh) commands to fuzzy search with fzf and open the selection in Firefox:

    firefox $(buku -p -f 10 | fzf) firefox $(buku -p -f 40 | fzf | cut -f1)

POSIX script to show a preview of the bookmark as well:

   #!/usr/bin/env sh

url=$(buku -p -f4 | fzf -m --reverse --preview "buku -p {1}" --preview-window=wrap | cut -f2)

if [ -n "$url" ]; then echo "$url" | xargs firefox fi


  1. Edit and add a bookmark from editor:

    $ buku -w $ buku -w 'gedit -w' $ buku -w 'macvim -f' -a search engine, privacy The first command picks editor from the environment variable

    . The second command opens gedit in blocking mode. The third command opens macvim with option -f and the URL and tags populated in template.
  2. Add a bookmark with tags

    search engine
    , comment
    Search engine with perks
    , fetch page title from the web:

    $ buku -a search engine, privacy -c Search engine with perks

    1. DuckDuckGo >
    2. Alternative search engine with perks # privacy,search engine where, >: URL, +: comment, #: tags
  3. Add a bookmark with tags

    search engine
    and immutable custom title

    $ buku -a search engine, privacy --title 'DDG' --immutable 1

    1. DDG (L) > # privacy,search engine Note that URL must precede tags.
  4. Add a bookmark without a title (works for update too):

    $ buku -a search engine, privacy --title

  5. Edit and update a bookmark from editor:

    $ buku -w 15012014 This will open the existing bookmark's details in the editor for modifications. Environment variable

    must be set.
  6. Update existing bookmark at index 15012014 with new URL, tags and comments, fetch title from the web:

    $ buku -u 15012014 --url --tag web search, utilities -c Private search engine

  7. Fetch and update only title for bookmark at 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014

  8. Update only comment for bookmark at 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014 -c this is a new comment Applies to --url, --title and --tag too.

  9. Export bookmarks tagged

    tag 1
    tag 2
    to HTML, Markdown, Orgfile or a new database:

    $ buku -e bookmarks.html --stag tag 1, tag 2 $ buku -e --stag tag 1, tag 2 $ buku -e --stag tag 1, tag 2 $ buku -e bookmarks.db --stag tag 1, tag 2 All bookmarks are exported if search is not opted.

  10. Import bookmarks from HTML, Markdown or Orgfile:

    $ buku -i bookmarks.html
    $ buku -i
    $ buku -i
    $ buku -i bookmarks.db
  11. Delete only comment for bookmark at 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014 -c

    Applies to --title and --tag too. URL cannot be deleted without deleting the bookmark.

  12. Update or refresh full DB with page titles from the web:

    $ buku -u
    $ buku -u --tacit (show only failures and exceptions)

    This operation can update the title or description fields of non-immutable bookmarks by parsing the fetched page. Fields are updated only if the fetched fields are non-empty. Tags remain untouched.

  13. Delete bookmark at index 15012014:

    $ buku -d 15012014
    Index 15012020 moved to 15012014

    The last index is moved to the deleted index to keep the DB compact. Add

    to delete without confirmation.
  14. Delete all bookmarks:

    $ buku -d
  15. Delete a range or list of bookmarks:

    $ buku -d 100-200
    $ buku -d 100 15 200
  16. Search bookmarks for ANY of the keywords

    in URL, title or tags:
    $ buku kernel debugging
    $ buku -s kernel debugging
  17. Search bookmarks with ALL the keywords

    in URL, title or tags:
    $ buku -S kernel debugging
  18. Search bookmarks tagged

    general kernel concepts
    $ buku --stag general kernel concepts
  19. Search for bookmarks matching ANY of the tags

    general kernel concepts
    $ buku --stag kernel, debugging, general kernel concepts
  20. Search for bookmarks matching ALL of the tags

    general kernel concepts
    $ buku --stag kernel + debugging + general kernel concepts
  21. Search for bookmarks matching any of the keywords

    , excluding the keywords
    , matching both the tags
    , but excluding the tags
    general kernel concepts
    $ buku hello world --exclude real life --stag 'kernel + debugging - general kernel concepts, books'
  22. List all unique tags alphabetically:

    $ buku --stag
  23. Run a search and update the results:

    $ buku -s kernel debugging -u --tag + linux kernel
  24. Run a search and delete the results:

    $ buku -s kernel debugging -d
  25. Encrypt or decrypt DB with custom number of iterations (15) to generate key:

    $ buku -l 15
    $ buku -k 15

    The same number of iterations must be specified for one lock & unlock instance. Default is 8, if omitted.

  26. Show details of bookmarks at index 15012014 and ranges 20-30, 40-50:

    $ buku -p 20-30 15012014 40-50
  27. Show details of the last 10 bookmarks:

    $ buku -p -10
  28. Show all bookmarks with real index from database:

    $ buku -p
    $ buku -p | more
  29. Replace tag 'old tag' with 'new tag':

    $ buku --replace 'old tag' 'new tag'
  30. Delete tag 'old tag' from DB:

    $ buku --replace 'old tag'
  31. Append (or delete) tags 'tag 1', 'tag 2' to (or from) existing tags of bookmark at index 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014 --tag + tag 1, tag 2
    $ buku -u 15012014 --tag - tag 1, tag 2
  32. Open URL at index 15012014 in browser:

    $ buku -o 15012014
  33. List bookmarks with no title or tags for bookkeeping:

    $ buku -S blank
  34. List bookmarks with immutable title:

    $ buku -S immutable
  35. Shorten URL and the URL at index 20:

    $ buku --shorten
    $ buku --shorten 20
  36. Append, remove tags at prompt (taglist index to the left, bookmark index to the right):

    // append tags at taglist indices 4 and 6-9 to existing tags in bookmarks at indices 5 and 2-3
    buku (? for help) g 4 9-6 >> 5 3-2
    // set tags at taglist indices 4 and 6-9 as tags in bookmarks at indices 5 and 2-3
    buku (? for help) g 4 9-6 > 5 3-2
    // remove all tags from bookmarks at indices 5 and 2-3
    buku (? for help) g > 5 3-2
    // remove tags at taglist indices 4 and 6-9 from tags in bookmarks at indices 5 and 2-3
    buku (? for help) g 4 9-6 << 5 3-2
  37. List bookmarks with colored output:

    $ buku --colors oKlxm -p
  38. More help:

    $ buku -h
    $ man buku


Interactive workflows can be automated using expect. Issue #368 has a working example on automating auto-import.


Editor integration

You may encounter issues with GUI editors which maintain only one instance by default and return immediately from other instances. Use the appropriate editor option to block the caller when a new document is opened. See issue #210 for gedit.


Copyright © 2015-2021 Arun Prakash Jana

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Missing a feature? There's a rolling ToDo List with identified tasks. Contributions are welcome! Please follow the PR guidelines.

Related projects

  • bukubrow, WebExtension for browser integration
  • oil, search-as-you-type cli front-end
  • buku_run, rofi front-end
  • pinku, a Pinboard-to-buku import utility
  • buku-dmenu, a simple bash dmenu wrapper
  • poku, sync between Pocket and buku
  • Ebuku, Emacs interface to buku

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