I have a large number of text files with notes, and would like to add meta data (tags and comments) to each file, and display them when using dired. I am using windows 10, and emacs (x86_w64-mingw32).

So I have installed file-props.el for this purpose, with file-props.el in my load path and the following lines added to my init.el file:

(require 'file-props)

But when I try using the

file-props-add-to-current-file (when inside a text file) or

file-props-dired-add-tags (when having marked a text file in dired)

I get the following error message:

Error message when using file-props commands

Can anybody see whats wrong in my use of file-props? Thanks in advance for any help!

Are there other functions than file-props to add meta data to text files, when working in emacs?

1 Answer 1


(The error message is telling you that something expected a list and instead was passed a symbol (that names the file). Turn on debug-on-error, so you can see what the calling function is. Then use C-h f for that function, to see how it should be called instead.)

I can't speak to file-props.el. But I can speak to this:

Are there other functions than file-props to add meta data to text files, when working in emacs?

Bookmark+ provides tons of functions for adding tags to and removing tags from autofile bookmarks, which means arbitrary files.

Tags are arbitrary names (strings), by default, but they can have associated values that are Lisp objects of any kind. That is, a tag is metadata of the most general sort.

In addition to tags, a bookmark (and thus a file) can have an annotation, which is a general textual description. The metadata of an annotation can be stored within the bookmark, or it can be external (which is useful when it is long). An external annotation can be a file, a URL, or another bookmark.

  • Thanks for your answer! When turning on 'debug-on-error', I get out 15 lines of lisp prose that I can't make any sense of.
    – myotis
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 22:37
  • The top of the backtrace that you get tells you what function raised the error, and what arguments it was passed. Use C-h f for that function, to find out what it expects as arguments. If you don't understand, post the top few lines of the backtrace in your question.
    – Drew
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 1:00
  • But anyway, I suggest you use Bookmark+. It has a lot more to offer, in the way of attaching metadata to files, than does file-props.el. Just a suggestion.
    – Drew
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 1:01
  • But file-props stores the meta data IN the text-file, right? While Bookmarks store the data outside the file. What I need is to see these meta data in a second column in dired, or a similar file list. I have 800 text files (with notes) that I would like to systematize. Making 800 bookmarks seems to be cumbersome.
    – myotis
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 11:39
  • No, file-props.el stores the metadata in the file that is the value of option file-props-data-file, which by default is ~/.emacs.d/file-props. Bookmark+ stores the metadata for any given file in a bookmark, and bookmarks are stored in a bookmark file. You can have any number of bookmark files.
    – Drew
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 14:38

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