Bare-ASCII Search Plugin

The bareasc plugin provides a prefixed query that searches your library using simple ASCII character matching, with accented characters folded to their base ASCII character. This can be useful if you want to find a track with accented characters in the title or artist, particularly if you are not confident you have the accents correct. It is also not unknown for the accents to not be correct in the database entry or wrong in the CD information.

First, enable the plugin named bareasc (see Using Plugins). You’ll then be able to use the # prefix to use bare-ASCII matching:

$ beet ls '#dvorak'
István Kertész - REQUIEM - Dvořàk: Requiem, op.89 - Confutatis maledictis


In addition to the query prefix, the plugin provides a utility bareasc command. This command is exactly the same as the beet list command except that the output is passed through the bare-ASCII transformation before being printed. This allows you to easily check what the library data looks like in bare ASCII, which can be useful if you are trying to work out why a query is not matching.

Using the same example track as above:

$ beet bareasc 'Dvořàk'
Istvan Kertesz - REQUIEM - Dvorak: Requiem, op.89 - Confutatis maledictis

Note: the bareasc command does not automatically use bare-ASCII queries. If you want a bare-ASCII query you still need to specify the # prefix.


If the query string is all in lower case, the comparison ignores case as well as accents.

The default bareasc prefix (#) is used as a comment character in some shells so may need to be protected (for example in quotes) when typed into the command line.

The bare ASCII transliteration is quite simple. It may not give the expected output for all languages. For example, German u-umlaut ü is transformed into ASCII u, not into ue.

The bare ASCII transformation also changes Unicode punctuation like double quotes, apostrophes and even some hyphens. It is often best to leave out punctuation in the queries. Note that the punctuation changes are often not even visible with normal terminal fonts. You can always use the bareasc command to print the transformed entries and use a command like diff to compare with the output from the list command.


To configure the plugin, make a bareasc: section in your configuration file. The only available option is:

  • prefix: The character used to designate bare-ASCII queries. Default: #, which may need to be escaped in some shells.


The hard work in this plugin is done in Sean Burke’s Unidecode library. Thanks are due to Sean and to all the people who created the Python version and the beets extensible query architecture.