First look at TMSU, a file tagging program with virtual drive mounting capabilities

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 9, 2015
Updated • Feb 9, 2015

File management has not evolved a lot from the user perspective in the last ten or so years. If you look at how various versions of Windows handle files, you will notice that there has not been lots of progress.

Sure, Microsoft introduced libraries as a way of accessing certain file types from one central location but since you need to make sure to only save these file types into locations the library picks up, it is far from ideal.

TMSU is a free command line driven program for Linux that just got released for Windows as well. The main idea behind the program is to use a tagging system to manage files on the system.

While that may sound useful, as you can use it to tag files regardless of where they are stored on the system, it requires lots of initial work to get it right.

What makes TMSU interesting however is its virtual file system which is not available on Windows yet.

You can mount the tagged files to a virtual drive to access them all from other applications using it.

Just download and extract the Windows release to your local system to get started. The first thing that I had to do was create a new database as the default location could not be used and returned an error whenever I tried to open the help file or run any command

You can create a new database using the command tmsu --database=/path. Please note that multiple databases are supported and that you need to supply the database command whenever you want to use it. It is likely that this issue will be resolved in future releases.

The commands that you may find most helpful in the beginning are:

  • tmsu --help - this displays all commands and their descriptions.
  • tmsu tag "files" "tags", e.g. tmsu tag 1.mp3 classic mp3.
  • tmsu merge tag1 tag2 to merge two tags and use only tag2 from now on as the name.
  • tmsu files "tags" to list files matching the selected tags. Also supports logical and, or and not operators and parentheses.

The system supports wildcards. You can use these to tag all music files in a music folder as mp3 or music for example.

While that is useful in itself, the virtual file system makes it shine. It is unfortunately not available yet on Windows. The basic idea is to mount a virtual drive with all tagged files so that you can access them using the selected tag structure.

Since it is accessible globally on the system, it is an interesting option to browse media files for example or documents as you can create a distinct structure that works better than the actual file structure on the hard drive.

The downside is that it only works from the command line currently. A frontend for it or even Windows Explorer integration would be useful as it could speed up the initial tagging process significantly.

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  1. PhoneyVirus said on February 15, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Seems like it could be useful, but like you stated above it requires lots of initial work to get it right. I’ll give it ago but it’s not all that interesting without the virtual drive mounting backing it.

    Thanks for the Tutorial Martin

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