Advanced topics — Paperless-ng 1.5.0 documentation (2024)

Paperless offers a couple features that automate certain tasks and make your lifeeasier.

Matching tags, correspondents and document types

Paperless will compare the matching algorithms defined by every tag andcorrespondent already set in your database to see if they apply to the text ina document. In other words, if you defined a tag called Home Utilitythat had a match property of bc hydro and a matching_algorithm ofliteral, Paperless will automatically tag your newly-consumed document withyour Home Utility tag so long as the text bc hydro appears in the bodyof the document somewhere.

The matching logic is quite powerful, and supports searching the text of yourdocument with different algorithms, and as such, some experimentation may benecessary to get things right.

In order to have a tag, correspondent or type assigned automatically to newlyconsumed documents, assign a match and matching algorithm using the webinterface. These settings define when to assign correspondents, tags and typesto documents.

The following algorithms are available:

  • Any: Looks for any occurrence of any word provided in match in the PDF.If you define the match as Bank1 Bank2, it will match documents containingeither of these terms.

  • All: Requires that every word provided appears in the PDF, albeit not in theorder provided.

  • Literal: Matches only if the match appears exactly as provided in the PDF.

  • Regular expression: Parses the match as a regular expression and tries tofind a match within the document.

  • Fuzzy match: I dont know. Look at the source.

  • Auto: Tries to automatically match new documents. This does not require youto set a match. See the notes below.

When using the “any” or “all” matching algorithms, you can search for termsthat consist of multiple words by enclosing them in double quotes. For example,defining a match text of "Bank of America" BofA using the “any” algorithm,will match documents that contain either “Bank of America” or “BofA”, but willnot match documents containing “Bank of South America”.

Then just save your tag/correspondent and run another document through theconsumer. Once complete, you should see the newly-created document,automatically tagged with the appropriate data.

Automatic matching

Paperless-ng comes with a new matching algorithm called Auto. This matchingalgorithm tries to assign tags, correspondents and document types to yourdocuments based on how you have assigned these on existing documents. Ituses a neural network under the hood.

If, for example, all your bank statements of your account 123 at the Bank ofAmerica are tagged with the tag “bofa_123” and the matching algorithm of thistag is set to Auto, this neural network will examine your documents andautomatically learn when to assign this tag.

Paperless tries to hide much of the involved complexity with this approach.However, there are a couple caveats you need to keep in mind when using thisfeature:

  • Changes to your documents are not immediately reflected by the matchingalgorithm. The neural network needs to be trained on your documents afterchanges. Paperless periodically (default: once each hour) checks for changesand does this automatically for you.

  • The Auto matching algorithm only takes documents into account which are NOTplaced in your inbox (i.e., have inbox tags assigned to them). This ensuresthat the neural network only learns from documents which you have correctlytagged before.

  • The matching algorithm can only work if there is a correlation between thetag, correspondent or document type and the document itself. Your bankstatements usually contain your bank account number and the name of the bank,so this works reasonably well, However, tags such as “TODO” cannot beautomatically assigned.

  • The matching algorithm needs a reasonable number of documents to identify whento assign tags, correspondents, and types. If one out of a thousand documentshas the correspondent “Very obscure web shop I bought something five yearsago”, it will probably not assign this correspondent automatically if you buysomething from them again. The more documents, the better.

  • Paperless also needs a reasonable amount of negative examples to decide whennot to assign a certain tag, correspondent or type. This will usually be thecase as you start filling up paperless with documents. Example: If all yourdocuments are either from “Webshop” and “Bank”, paperless will assign one ofthese correspondents to ANY new document, if both are set to automatic matching.

Hooking into the consumption process

Sometimes you may want to do something arbitrary whenever a document isconsumed. Rather than try to predict what you may want to do, Paperless letsyou execute scripts of your own choosing just before or after a document isconsumed using a couple simple hooks.

Just write a script, put it somewhere that Paperless can read & execute, andthen put the path to that script in paperless.conf with the variable nameof either PAPERLESS_PRE_CONSUME_SCRIPT orPAPERLESS_POST_CONSUME_SCRIPT.


These scripts are executed in a blocking process, which means that ifa script takes a long time to run, it can significantly slow down yourdocument consumption flow. If you want things to run asynchronously,you’ll have to fork the process in your script and exit.

Pre-consumption script

Executed after the consumer sees a new document in the consumption folder, butbefore any processing of the document is performed. This script receives exactlyone argument:

  • Document file name

A simple but common example for this would be creating a simple script likethis:


#!/usr/bin/env -i ${1}



This will pass the path to the document about to be consumed to /usr/local/bin/ocr-pdf,which will in turn call on your document, which will thenoverwrite the file with an OCR’d version of the file and exit. At which point,the consumption process will begin with the newly modified file.

Post-consumption script

Executed after the consumer has successfully processed a document and has moved itinto paperless. It receives the following arguments:

The script can be in any language you like, but for a simple shell scriptexample, you can take a look at in thescripts directory in this project.

The post consumption script cannot cancel the consumption process.

File name handling

By default, paperless stores your documents in the media directory and renames themusing the identifier which it has assigned to each document. You will end up gettingfiles like 0000123.pdf in your media directory. This isn’t necessarily a badthing, because you normally don’t have to access these files manually. However, ifyou wish to name your files differently, you can do that by adjusting thePAPERLESS_FILENAME_FORMAT configuration option.

This variable allows you to configure the filename (folders are allowed) usingplaceholders. For example, configuring this to


will create a directory structure as follows:

2019/ My bank/ Statement January.pdf Statement February.pdf2020/ My bank/ Statement January.pdf Letter.pdf Letter_01.pdf Shoe store/ My new shoes.pdf


Do not manually move your files in the media folder. Paperless remembers thelast filename a document was stored as. If you do rename a file, paperless willreport your files as missing and won’t be able to find them.

Paperless provides the following placeholders withing filenames:

  • {asn}: The archive serial number of the document, or “none”.

  • {correspondent}: The name of the correspondent, or “none”.

  • {document_type}: The name of the document type, or “none”.

  • {tag_list}: A comma separated list of all tags assigned to the document.

  • {title}: The title of the document.

  • {created}: The full date and time the document was created.

  • {created_year}: Year created only.

  • {created_month}: Month created only (number 1-12).

  • {created_day}: Day created only (number 1-31).

  • {added}: The full date and time the document was added to paperless.

  • {added_year}: Year added only.

  • {added_month}: Month added only (number 1-12).

  • {added_day}: Day added only (number 1-31).

Paperless will try to conserve the information from your database as much as possible.However, some characters that you can use in document titles and correspondent names (suchas : \ / and a couple more) are not allowed in filenames and will be replaced with dashes.

If paperless detects that two documents share the same filename, paperless will automaticallyappend _01, _02, etc to the filename. This happens if all the placeholders in a filenameevaluate to the same value.


Paperless checks the filename of a document whenever it is saved. Therefore,you need to update the filenames of your documents and move them after alteringthis setting by invoking the document renamer.


Make absolutely sure you get the spelling of the placeholders right, or elsepaperless will use the default naming scheme instead.


As of now, you could totally tell paperless to store your files anywhere outsidethe media directory by setting


However, keep in mind that inside docker, if files get stored outside of thepredefined volumes, they will be lost after a restart of paperless.

Advanced topics — Paperless-ng 1.5.0 documentation (2024)
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