Pantheon-Files has a feature of assigning color to file/directory names displayed. I want to make a script in Bash/Python to do the same automatically.

1 Answer 1


Low-level sqlite approach

The file-color associations are stored in the ~/.config/marlin/marlin.db sqlite database. You can try to reverse-engineer the format, as far as I have seen, there is one table tags, as seen in the dump:

                   uri TEXT UNIQUE NOT NULL,
                   color INTEGER DEFAULT 0,
                   tags TEXT NULL,
                   content_type TEXT,
                   modified_time INTEGER DEFAULT 0,
                   dir TEXT );

Update/delete file color

So basically you need to either the color already in the base as in

UPDATE tags set color=1 WHERE uri = 'file:///home/user/test'

changed the color of the file ~/test to yellow (1). Colors seem to be 0 (no color) and 1…9 (yellow, orange, etc. as shown in the file Properties dialog).

If you want to delete the color, you only have to set color=0.

Set file color

If there is no entry for the file specified, you should create it with some housekeeping:

  • id might be NULL as in auto-assigned,
  • uri is the URI of the file of which you want to change the color
  • tags = NULL as in nothing special for now,
  • content_type you might find this with the file utility,
  • modified_time seems to be a simple Unix time stamp,
  • dir I don't really know but the parent directory seems to be a safe bet.

This line seems to work and has set the color of ~/new_file not present in the database before to green (4):

INSERT INTO tags VALUES (NULL, 'file:///home/user/new_file', 4, NULL, 'text/plain', 1481148148, 'file:///home/user');

However, be careful and double-check this with the source code of pantheon-files as this might render your database inconsistent. The relevant source file seems to be pantheon-files-daemon/marlind-tagging.vala.

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