git‐annex−preferred−content − which files are wanted in a

Each repository has a preferred content setting, which
specifies content that the repository wants to have present.
These settings can be configured using git annex vicfg or
git annex wanted.  They are used by the −−auto option, by
git annex sync −−content, and by the git‐annex assistant.

     While preferred content expresses a preference, it can
be overridden by simply using git annex drop. On the other
hand, required content settings are enforced; git annex drop
will refuse to drop a file if doing so would violate its
required content settings. A repository’s required content
can be configured using git annex vicfg or git annex

Preferred content expressions use a similar syntax to the
git‐annex−matching−options(1), without the dashes.  For

      exclude=archive/* and (include=*.mp3 or

     The idea is that you write an expression that files are
matched against. If a file matches, the repository wants to
store its content. If it doesn’t, the repository wants to
drop its content (if there are enough copies elsewhere to
allow removing it).

include=glob / exclude=glob

     Match files to include, or exclude.

     While −−include=glob and −−exclude=glob match files
     relative to the current directory, preferred content
     expressions always match files relative to the top of
     the git repository.

     For example, suppose you put files into archive
     directories when you’re done with them. Then you could
     configure your laptop to prefer to not retain those
     files, like this: exclude=*/archive/*

     Matches only files that git‐annex believes to have the
     specified number of copies, or more. Note that it does
     not check remotes to verify that the copies still



     To decide if content should be dropped, git‐annex
     evaluates the preferred content expression under the
     assumption that the content has *already* been dropped.
     If the content would not be wanted then, the drop can
     be done.  So, for example, copies=2 in a preferred
     content expression lets content be dropped only when
     there are currently 3 copies of it, including the repo
     it’s being dropped from. This is different than running
     git annex drop −−copies=2, which will drop files that
     currently have 2 copies.

     Matches only files that git‐annex believes have the
     specified number copies, on remotes with the specified
     trust level. For example, copies=trusted:2

     To match any trust level at or higher than a given
     level, use trustlevel+. For example,

     Matches only files that git‐annex believes have the
     specified number of copies, on remotes in the specified
     group. For example, copies=archive:2

     Preferred content expressions have no equivalent to the
     −−in option, but groups can accomplish similar things.
     You can add repositories to groups, and match against
     the groups in a preferred content expression. So rather
     than −−in=usbdrive, put all the USB drives into a
     "transfer" group, and use copies=transfer:1

     Matches only files that git‐annex believes need the
     specified number or more additional copies to be made
     in order to satisfy their numcopies settings.

     Like lackingcopies, but does not look at .gitattributes
     annex.numcopies settings. This makes it significantly

     Matches only files whose content is stored using the
     specified key−value backend.


     Matches only files whose content is hashed using a
     cryptographically secure function.

     Matches only files that git‐annex believes are present
     in all repositories in the specified group.

smallerthan=size / largerthan=size
     Matches only files whose content is smaller than, or
     larger than the specified size.

     The size can be specified with any commonly used units,
     for example, "0.5 gb" or "100 KiloBytes"

     Matches only files that have a metadata field attached
     with a value that matches the glob. The values of
     metadata fields are matched case insensitively.

     To match a tag "done", use metadata=tag=done

     To match author metadata, use metadata=author=*Smith

metadata=field<number / metadata=field>number

metadata=field<=number / metadata=field>=number
     Matches only files that have a metadata field attached
     with a value that is a number and is less than or
     greater than the specified number.

     To match PDFs with between 100 and 200 pages (assuming
     something has set that metadata), use
     metadata=pagecount>=100 and metadata=pagecount<=200

     Makes content be wanted if it’s present, but not

     This leaves it up to you to use git‐annex manually to
     move content around. You can use this to avoid
     preferred content settings from affecting a
     subdirectory. For example: auto/* or (include=ad−hoc/*
     and present)

     Note that not present is a very bad thing to put in a
     preferred content expression. It’ll make it want to get
     content that’s not present, and drop content that is
     present! Don’t go there..


     Makes content be preferred if it’s in a directory
     (located anywhere in the tree) with a particular name.

     The name of the directory can be configured using git
     annex enableremote $remote preferreddir=$dirname

     (If no directory name is configured, it uses "public"
     by default.)

     git‐annex comes with some built−in preferred content
     expressions, that can be used with repositories that
     are in some standard groups such as "client" and

     When a repository is in exactly one such group, you can
     use the "standard" keyword in its preferred content
     expression, to match whatever content the group’s
     expression matches.

     Most often, the whole preferred content expression is
     simply "standard".  But, you can do more complicated
     things, for example: standard or include=otherdir/*

     The "groupwanted" keyword can be used to refer to a
     preferred content expression that is associated with a
     group, as long as there is exactly one such expression
     amoung the groups a repository is in. This is like the
     "standard" keyword, but you can configure the preferred
     content expressions using git annex groupwanted.

     When writing a groupwanted preferred content
     expression, you can use all the keywords documented
     here, including "standard".  (But not "groupwanted".)

     For example, to make a variant of the standard client
     preferred content expression that does not want files
     in the "out" directory, you could run: git annex
     groupwanted client "standard and exclude=out/*"

     Then repositories that are in the client group and have
     their preferred content expression set to "groupwanted"
     will use that, while other client repositories that
     have their preferred content expression set to
     "standard" will use the standard expression.

     Or, you could make a new group, with your own custom
     preferred content expression tuned for your needs, and
     every repository you put in this group and make its
     preferred content be "groupwanted" will use it.


     For example, the archive group only wants to archive 1
     copy of each file, spread among every repository in the
     group.  Here’s how to configure a group named
     redundantarchive, that instead wants to contain 3
     copies of each file:

      git annex groupwanted redundantarchive "not
      for repo in foo bar baz; do
          git annex group $repo redundantarchive
          git annex wanted $repo groupwanted

     Matches only keys that git annex unused has determined
     to be unused.

     This is related the the −−unused option.  However,
     putting unused in a preferred content expression
     doesn’t make git‐annex consider those unused keys. So
     when git‐annex is only checking preferred content
     expressions against files in the repository (which are
     obviously used), unused in a preferred content
     expression won’t match anything.

     So when is unused useful in a preferred content

     Using git annex sync −−content −−all will operate on
     all files, including unused ones, and take unused in
     preferred content expressions into account.

     The git‐annex assistant periodically scans for unused
     files, and moves them to some repository whose
     preferred content expression says it wants them. (Or,
     if annex.expireunused is set, it may just delete them.)

     Always matches.

     Never matches. (Same as "not anything")

not expression
     Inverts what the expression matches. For example, not
     include=archive/* is the same as exclude=archive/*

and / or / ( expression )
     These can be used to build up more complicated



To check at the command line which files are matched by a
repository’s preferred content settings, you can use the
−−want−get and −−want−drop options.

     For example, git annex find −−want−get −−not −−in .
will find all the files that git annex get −−auto will want
to get, and git annex find −−want−drop −−in . will find all
the files that git annex drop −−auto will want to drop.






Joey Hess <>