🔖 Personal mini-web in text
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buku in action!

buku in action!


buku 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, buku.

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

buku 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, Chromium and MS Edge
  • Open bookmarks and search results in browser
  • Shorten, expand URLs
  • Browse cached page from the 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, XBEL, 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 3.8+
HTTPS certifi, urllib3
Encryption cryptography
HTML beautifulsoup4, html5lib

To copy URL to clipboard buku uses xsel (or xclip) on Linux, pbcopy (default installed) on OS X, clip (default installed) on Windows, termux-clipboard on Termux (terminal emulation for Android), wl-copy 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 buku 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 (/usr/local):

$ sudo make install

To remove, run:

$ sudo make uninstall

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

Running standalone

buku 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.

      KEYWORD              search keywords

      -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

      --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

      -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

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

      --ai                 auto-import bookmarks from web browsers
                           Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Vivaldi, Edge
      -e, --export file    export bookmarks to Firefox format HTML
                           export XBEL, if file ends with '.xbel'
                           export Markdown, if file ends with '.md'
                           format: [title](url) <!-- TAGS -->
                           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 from file
                           supports .html .xbel .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 tny.im service
      --expand index|URL   expand a tny.im 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

      >                    url
      +                    comment
      #                    tags

    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 [...] [>>|>|<<] [record id|range ...]
                           append, set, remove (all or specific) tags
                           search by taglist id(s) if records are omitted
    n                      show next page of search results
    o id|range [...]       browse bookmarks by indices and/or ranges
    p id|range [...]       print bookmarks by indices and/or ranges
    w [editor|id]          edit and add or update a bookmark
    c id                   copy URL at search result index to clipboard
    ?                      show this help
    q, ^D, double Enter    exit buku


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


  1. Export VISUAL or EDITOR to point to your favourite editor. Note that VISUAL takes precedence over EDITOR.

  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


  1. Edit and add a bookmark from editor:

    $ buku -w
    $ buku -w 'gedit -w'
    $ buku -w 'macvim -f' -a https://ddg.gg search engine, privacy

    The first command picks editor from the environment variable EDITOR. 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 simple bookmark:

    $ buku --nostdin -a https://github.com/
    2648. GitHub: Lets build from here  GitHub
    > https://github.com/
    + GitHub is where over 94 million developers shape the future of software, together. Contribute to the open source community, manage your Git repositories, review code like a pro, track bugs
     and features, power your CI/CD and DevOps workflows, and secure code before you commit it.
    $ buku --nostdin -a https://github.com/
    [ERROR] URL [https://github.com/] already exists at index 2648

    >: URL, +: comment, #: tags

    Title, description and tags will be fetched from site. Buku only stores unique URLs and will raise error if the URL already present in the database:

  3. Add a bookmark with tags search engine and privacy, comment Search engine with perks, fetch page title from the web:

    $ buku -a https://ddg.gg search engine, privacy -c Search engine with perks
    336. DuckDuckGo
    > https://ddg.gg
    + Alternative search engine with perks
    # privacy,search engine

    where, >: URL, +: comment, #: tags

  4. Add a bookmark with tags search engine & privacy and immutable custom title DDG:

    $ buku -a https://ddg.gg search engine, privacy --title 'DDG' --immutable 1
    336. DDG (L)
    > https://ddg.gg
    # privacy,search engine

    Note that URL must precede tags.

  5. Add a bookmark without a title (works for update too):

    $ buku -a https://ddg.gg search engine, privacy --title
  6. 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 EDITOR must be set.

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

    $ buku -u 15012014 --url http://ddg.gg/ --tag web search, utilities -c Private search engine
  8. Fetch and update only title for bookmark at 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014
  9. Update only comment for bookmark at 15012014:

    $ buku -u 15012014 -c this is a new comment

    Applies to --url, --title and --tag too.

  10. Export bookmarks tagged tag 1 or tag 2 to HTML, XBEL, Markdown, Orgfile or a new database:

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

  11. Import bookmarks from HTML, XBEL, Markdown or Orgfile:

    $ buku -i bookmarks.html
    $ buku -i bookmarks.xbel
    $ buku -i bookmarks.md
    $ buku -i bookmarks.org
    $ buku -i bookmarks.db
  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 --tacit to delete without confirmation.

  15. Delete all bookmarks:

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

    $ buku -d 100-200
    $ buku -d 100 15 200
  17. Search bookmarks for ANY of the keywords kernel and debugging in URL, title or tags:

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

    $ buku -S kernel debugging
  19. Search bookmarks tagged general kernel concepts:

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

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

    $ buku --stag kernel + debugging + general kernel concepts
  22. Search for bookmarks matching any of the keywords hello or world, excluding the keywords real and life, matching both the tags kernel and debugging, but excluding the tags general kernel concepts and books:

    $ buku hello world --exclude real life --stag 'kernel + debugging - general kernel concepts, books'
  23. List all unique tags alphabetically:

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

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

    $ buku -s kernel debugging -d
  26. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

    $ buku --replace 'old tag'
  32. 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
  33. Open URL at index 15012014 in browser:

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

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

    $ buku -S immutable
  36. Shorten URL www.google.com and the URL at index 20:

    $ buku --shorten www.google.com
    $ buku --shorten 20
  37. 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
  38. List bookmarks with colored output:

    $ buku --colors oKlxm -p
  39. 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 2015-2023 Arun Prakash Jana

gitter chat


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

See also our documentation here Stable Docs

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
  • diigoku, buku importer for Diigo


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