A filter is a set of command line arguments that specify a set of tasks and filters can range from being simple to very complex. The simplest filter is an empty filter, and we can illustrate this with the count.

$ task count

These 100 tasks are the tasks, pending and completed, which represent are all the tasks known to Taskwarrior. Any command that accepts a filter also accepts no filter, as shown above. Now we introduce a filter with one term.

$ task status:pending count

This is an example of the name : value form for specifying attribute values. This filter shows that there are 38 pending tasks, and therefore 62 that are not pending in some way. This form of filter also works for other attributes:

$ task project:Home count

There are 19 tasks in the ‘Home’ project.

The value parameter can be left empty in order to match only the items that do not have a value of the relevant kind assigned to them. For example, you can count the tasks that are not assigned to any project, like this:

$ task project: count

In this example, we can see that the tasks not assigned ‘Home’ project have not yet been assigned to any project at all.

Taskwarrior has other filters besides name : value filters. Here are two examples, filtering on the presence and absence of a tag.

$ task +work count
$ task -work count

This shows us that 14 tasks have the ‘work’ tag, and 86 do not have the tag. To search for a word in the description or annotation:

$ task /m..ting/ count

Here we see that 3 tasks have the word ’m..ting’ in the description. This is a regular expression, although it can also be just a simple word.

This assumes you have enabled regular expression support, using the rc.regex configuration setting.

Complex Filters

Filters gain complexity by adding more filter terms and logic. Suppose we want to see the number of tasks that have the ‘Home’ project, and do not have the ‘work’ tag. Simply put both terms on the command line.

$ task project:Home -work count

The two terms in the filter are both applied to the set of all tasks, or in other words, a task must have both the ‘Home’ project and not have the ‘work’ tag to be counted.

When a filter contains multiple terms like this, they are treated as a logical conjunction, which is to say that both terms must match for a task to be selected by the filter. If there were three terms in the filter, then all three must match.

This assumed conjunction is another command line syntax shortcut. The long form of this command line is:

$ task project:Home and -work count

See the and operator between the filter terms? That is assumed to be there if not specifically stated. The unstated implication is that the disjunction (‘or’) is also supported.

$ task project:Home or -work count

This example asks how many tasks are part of the ‘Home’ project, or do not have the ‘work’ tag - either is a match.


It was mentioned earlier that the simplest filter was an empty filter, such as in use by the count command. Now we shall consider the ls report, which has a filter of:

$ task show

Config Variable  Value
---------------- -------------- status:pending

This report filter is combined with the command line filter that you specify:

$ task project:Home ls

This yields a combined filter of:

status:pending project:Home

Which has an implicit conjunction:

status:pending and project:Home

Now suppose we wanted to use a disjunction filter with the ls command:

$ task project:Home or project:Garden list

This is interpreted as:

status:pending and project:Home or project:Garden

Do you see the precedence problem? The intended filter is this:

status:pending and (project:Home or project:Garden)

which includes the parentheses to group the disjunction. Going back to the original filter, we now know that it needs this form:

$ task (project:Home or project:Garden) list

Except now, we have one more problem - those parentheses have special meaning to the shell, and must be escaped in one of the following ways:

$ task \(project:Home or project:Garden\) list
$ task '(project:Home or project:Garden)' list
$ task "(project:Home or project:Garden)" list

Note that there are many characters used by the taskwarrior command line that have special meaning to the shell, and as such must be properly escaped, as described here.

Also note that when searching for tasks without the specified entry at the end of the parenthesis, you need to add a space, otherwise you’ll get “Mismatched parentheses in expression”.

# This
$ task '(project: )'
# Not that
$ task '(project:)'


Regular expressions in pattern filters are only used when enabled with:


This is the default in 2.4.0+. If not enabled, the patterns are literal strings to be matched. Case sensitivity for string searches and regular expressions is controlled by:

The default is ‘yes’.