Recoll: Text Search Tool For Unix And Linux Desktops

Recoll: Text Search Tool For Unix And Linux Desktops

Recoll is a text search tool for Unix and Linux desktops. Recoll finds keywords inside documents as well as file names.

Recoll will do the following for you.

– It can search any document format.

– Supports wild card characters.

– Search based on files author, type, size and format etc.

– will search on all storage places such as files, archive members, email attachments etc.

– supports Desktop and Website integration

– Firefox extension is available to index visited web pages history.

– One click will open the document inside a native editor or display a text preview.

– The software is free, open source, and licensed under the GPL.

Install Recoll On Ubuntu / Linux Mint

Recoll is available in the Ubuntu repositories, However it is better to add Recoll repository and install the latest version.

Add Recoll repository using command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:recoll-backports/recoll-1.15-on

Update the package list with command:

sudo apt-get update

Now install Recoll using the following command.

sudo apt-get install recoll

For other distros, see the download page to download and install it from source.

Launch Recoll

Recoll can be launched either from Dash or Menu.

Menu_001At first launch, you’ll be asked to do indexing your whole home directory. This will take a while depending upon the size of your Home directory and no of files you have. Press the Start indexing now button.

Recoll_002Also you can adjust the indexing configuration and indexing schedule, if you want to more control of indexing. To do so, simply click on the Indexing configuration or Indexing schedule links. If you want to do it later, you can access these tools from the Preferences menu.

Once the indexing is done, you can start searching files/folders. The result will be displayed according to the exact relevancy and with a small snippet of the matched content.


As i noted above, you can adjust the Recoll indexing function if you want more control.

There are two configuration sections in the Recoll tool.

1. Index configuration

2. Index schedule

Let us see a short description of above sections.

Index Configuration is the section where you want to include directories or exclude the paths from indexing. By default Home directory will be included in the index. You can just remove and add some specific directory(s) for indexing.

-home-sk-.recoll-_003Also you can define the web history queue and the max size of the web store.

Index schedule is the section where you want to define a schedule to automate batch indexing runs, or start real time indexing when you log in.

Index scheduling setup_004Recoll supports two indexing schedule:

Cron Scheduling – decides at what time indexing should run and installs the crontab entry.

Cron Dialog_006As per the above screenshot, the recoll cron job will run on every day at 12 am. After setting up the cron job, click enable to make it active.

Real time indexing start up – decide if real time indexing will be started when you log in.

Real time indexing automatic start_007By enabling this option, the recoll daemon will start on every reboot. Be mindful that this settings is applicable only for default index.

Basic Search

Hope you knew enough about Recoll now. It is time to search some files/folders. The beauty of this application is it finds keywords inside documents as well as file names.

In the Recoll interface, enter the search term(query) on the top right search box and click Search button.

Recoll_008As you see in the above picture, the result will be displayed with exact relevant contents, a small snippet and preview option of the matched contents. You can directly open the searched file by clicking on the Open button or preview it before opening using the Preview button.

Also you can filter the results according to their categories such as “media”, “message”, “other”, “presentation”, “spreadsheet” and “text” etc. Moreover you can choose the search results that should match “Any term”, “All terms”, “File name” or “Query language”.

Advanced Search

Click the Advanced Search icon on the Menu bar or go to Tools -> Advanced Search. This will open a new window. From here you’ll be able to search more advanced with clauses. For example i am searching for  files that contains matches keyword as “hp” and filename as “storage”.

Advanced search_010This will find and displays the files that contains the keyword as “hp” and file name as “storage”.

Recoll_012Unity Desktop And Website Integration

This application supports desktop and website integration. If you want to integrate this with your Ubuntu Unity desktop, install recoll-lens with following command.

sudo apt-get install recoll-lens

Please note that the Lens is limited to showing at most 20 results. If you want get more than 20 search results, edit, change the “if actual_results >= 20:” line.

If you are using Firefox browser and want to search the website history that you visit everyday, you can use this firefox extension. This extension works together with Recoll to index the websites that you visit all day. After installing this extension, enable it from the Web history tab of Recoll Index Configuration.

-home-sk-.recoll-_013All Linux distributions has built-in search function in their file manager to find files/folders as easy as possible. For those who aren’t not happy with the built-in search functionality and looking for an advanced text search tool, then Recoll is a worth trying tool. For me, this tool is lot easier and more powerful for basic and as well as advanced searches.


  • Bharath

    Have you tried Sphinx and if so is there a comparision. Pls let us know.

  • SK

    I didn’t try sphinx. I will give it a try soon. Thanks for the suggestion.