GStreamer makes a clear distinction between the two types of metadata it supports: Stream tags, which describe the content of a stream in a non-technical way; and Stream-info, which is a somewhat technical description of the properties of a stream. Stream tags examples include the author of a song, the song's title or the album it belongs to. Examples for stream-info include video size, audio samplerate, codecs used and so on.

Tags are handled using the GStreamer tagging system. Stream-info can be retrieved from a GstPad by getting the current (negotiated) GstCaps for that pad.

Metadata reading

Stream information can most easily be obtained by reading it from a GstPad. Note that this requires access to all pads of which you want stream information. This approach has already been discussed in Using capabilities for metadata. Therefore, we will skip it here.

Tag reading is done through a bus in GStreamer. You can listen for GST_MESSAGE_TAG messages and handle them as you wish. This has been discussed previously in Bus.

Note, however, that the GST_MESSAGE_TAG message may be emitted multiple times and it is the application's responsibility to aggregate and display the tags in a coherent way. This can be done using gst_tag_list_merge () but make sure to empty the cache when loading a new song, or after every few minutes when listening to internet radio. Also, make sure you use GST_TAG_MERGE_PREPEND as merging mode, so that a new title (which came in later) has precedence over the old one.

The following example shows how to extract tags from a file and print them:

/* compile with:
 * gcc -o tags tags.c `pkg-config --cflags --libs gstreamer-1.0` */
#include <gst/gst.h>

static void
print_one_tag (const GstTagList * list, const gchar * tag, gpointer user_data)
  int i, num;

  num = gst_tag_list_get_tag_size (list, tag);
  for (i = 0; i < num; ++i) {
    const GValue *val;

    /* Note: when looking for specific tags, use the gst_tag_list_get_xyz() API,
     * we only use the GValue approach here because it is more generic */
    val = gst_tag_list_get_value_index (list, tag, i);
    if (G_VALUE_HOLDS_STRING (val)) {
      g_print ("\t%20s : %s\n", tag, g_value_get_string (val));
    } else if (G_VALUE_HOLDS_UINT (val)) {
      g_print ("\t%20s : %u\n", tag, g_value_get_uint (val));
    } else if (G_VALUE_HOLDS_DOUBLE (val)) {
      g_print ("\t%20s : %g\n", tag, g_value_get_double (val));
    } else if (G_VALUE_HOLDS_BOOLEAN (val)) {
      g_print ("\t%20s : %s\n", tag,
          (g_value_get_boolean (val)) ? "true" : "false");
    } else if (GST_VALUE_HOLDS_BUFFER (val)) {
      GstBuffer *buf = gst_value_get_buffer (val);
      guint buffer_size = gst_buffer_get_size (buf);

      g_print ("\t%20s : buffer of size %u\n", tag, buffer_size);
    } else if (GST_VALUE_HOLDS_DATE_TIME (val)) {
      GstDateTime *dt = g_value_get_boxed (val);
      gchar *dt_str = gst_date_time_to_iso8601_string (dt);

      g_print ("\t%20s : %s\n", tag, dt_str);
      g_free (dt_str);
    } else {
      g_print ("\t%20s : tag of type '%s'\n", tag, G_VALUE_TYPE_NAME (val));

static void
on_new_pad (GstElement * dec, GstPad * pad, GstElement * fakesink)
  GstPad *sinkpad;

  sinkpad = gst_element_get_static_pad (fakesink, "sink");
  if (!gst_pad_is_linked (sinkpad)) {
    if (gst_pad_link (pad, sinkpad) != GST_PAD_LINK_OK)
      g_error ("Failed to link pads!");
  gst_object_unref (sinkpad);

main (int argc, char ** argv)
  GstElement *pipe, *dec, *sink;
  GstMessage *msg;
  gchar *uri;

  gst_init (&argc, &argv);

  if (argc < 2)
    g_error ("Usage: %s FILE or URI", argv[0]);

  if (gst_uri_is_valid (argv[1])) {
    uri = g_strdup (argv[1]);
  } else {
    uri = gst_filename_to_uri (argv[1], NULL);

  pipe = gst_pipeline_new ("pipeline");

  dec = gst_element_factory_make ("uridecodebin", NULL);
  g_object_set (dec, "uri", uri, NULL);
  gst_bin_add (GST_BIN (pipe), dec);

  sink = gst_element_factory_make ("fakesink", NULL);
  gst_bin_add (GST_BIN (pipe), sink);

  g_signal_connect (dec, "pad-added", G_CALLBACK (on_new_pad), sink);

  gst_element_set_state (pipe, GST_STATE_PAUSED);

  while (TRUE) {
    GstTagList *tags = NULL;

    msg = gst_bus_timed_pop_filtered (GST_ELEMENT_BUS (pipe),

    if (GST_MESSAGE_TYPE (msg) != GST_MESSAGE_TAG) /* error or async_done */

    gst_message_parse_tag (msg, &tags);

    g_print ("Got tags from element %s:\n", GST_OBJECT_NAME (msg->src));
    gst_tag_list_foreach (tags, print_one_tag, NULL);
    g_print ("\n");
    gst_tag_list_unref (tags);

    gst_message_unref (msg);

    GError *err = NULL;

    gst_message_parse_error (msg, &err, NULL);
    g_printerr ("Got error: %s\n", err->message);
    g_error_free (err);

  gst_message_unref (msg);
  gst_element_set_state (pipe, GST_STATE_NULL);
  gst_object_unref (pipe);
  g_free (uri);
  return 0;

Tag writing

Tag writing is done using the GstTagSetter interface. All that's required is a tag-set-supporting element in your pipeline.

In order to see if any of the elements in your pipeline supports tag writing, you can use the function gst_bin_iterate_all_by_interface (pipeline, GST_TYPE_TAG_SETTER). On the resulting element, usually an encoder or muxer, you can use gst_tag_setter_merge_tags () with a taglist or gst_tag_setter_add_tags () with individual tags, to set tags on it.

A nice extra feature in GStreamer's tag support is that tags are preserved in pipelines. This means that if you transcode one file containing tags into another tag-supporting media type, then the tags will be handled as part of the data stream and will be so merged into the newly written media file.

The results of the search are