Command line usage

The following subsections give an overview of khard’s main features. You may get general help and all available actions as well as detailed information on all available options for the specific commands with the --help options:

khard --help
khard command --help

Beware, that the order of the command line parameters matters.

Filtering contacts

Many subcommands of khard accept search terms to narrow the list of contacts that the command should work on. One can simply give some plain search terms on the command line or use a more sophisticated query language of khard.

The query language allows the user to search for contacts where a specific term matches in a specific field of the contact. When searching for foo there might be two contacts that match, because one is called “Foo” and the other has an email address containing “foo”:

$ khard list foo
Index    Name    Email
1        Bar
2        Foo

But when searching for name:foo or emails:foo one would only find one of these each time because “foo” only matches in these specific fields of the contact.

The available fields are the same as in the YAML format for contacts (an empty YAML template can be seen with khard template). Case does not matter, all filed names will be converted to lower case. For field names with spaces (like “Formatted name”) the spaces have to be replaced with underscores (like in formatted_name). And the five name related fields “Prefix”, “First name”, “Additional”, “Last name” and “Suffix” are not available, but a simple name: query is possible which will search in any name field (including nicknames and formatted names).


Typos in field names result in the query beeing considered as a general search term. So email:foo will search for “email:foo” in any field of the contact, because the field is called “emails”.


Nested field names like for the -F option of the ls subcommand are currently not supported in the query syntax. You can only search with the top level field names.

Show contacts

After you have created a new address book and you have synced it to your local machine, you can list all available contacts with the following command:

khard list

or if you have more than one address book and you want to filter the output:

khard list -a addressbook1,addressbook2

The resulting contact table only contains the first phone number and email address. If you want to view all contact details you can pick one from the list:

khard show

or search for it:

khard show name of contact

The parameter -a from the examples above is always optional. It can be given on all subcommands that select one or more contacts.

The search parameter searches in all data fields. Therefore you aren’t limited to the contact’s name but you also could for example search for a part of a phone number, email address or post address. However if you explicitly want to narrow your search down to some fields see the query language described in Filtering contacts.

Create contact

Add new contact with the following command:

khard new [-a "address book name"]

The template for the new contact opens in the text editor, which you can set in the config file. It follows the yaml syntax.

Alternatively you can create the contact from stdin:

echo "
First name : John
Last name  : Smith
Email :
    work :
Phone :
    home : xxx 555 1234
Categories :
    - cat1
    - cat2
    - cat3
" | khard new

or create from input template file:

khard new -i contact.yaml

You may get an empty contact template with the following command:

khard template

Assuming the user had configured the three supported private object “Jabber”, “Skype”, and “Twitter” in their config, the template would look like this.

Per default khard creates vCards of version 3.0. If your other contact applications support vCards of the more recent version 4.0, you may change this with the option --vcard-version. Example:

khard new --vcard-version=4.0

For a more permanent solution you may set the preferred_version parameter in the vCard section of the khard config file (see the example config file for more details). But beware, that khard cannot convert already existing contacts from version 3.0 to 4.0. Therefore this setting is not applicable to the modify action.

Edit contacts

Use the following to modify the contact after successful creation:

khard edit [-a addr_name] [search terms [search terms ...]]

If you want to edit the contact elsewhere, you can export the filled contact template:

khard show --format=yaml -o contact.yaml [-a addr_name] [search terms [search terms ...]]

Edit the yaml file and re-import either through stdin:

cat contact.yaml | khard edit [-a addr_name] [search terms [search terms ...]]

or file name:

khard edit -i contact.yaml [-a addr_name] [search terms [search terms ...]]

If you want to merge contacts use the following to select a first and then a second contact:

khard merge [-a source_abook] [search terms [search terms ...]] [-A target_abook] [-t target_search_terms]

You will be launched into your merge_editor (see khard.conf) where you can merge all changes from the first selected contact onto the second. Once you are finished, the first contact is deleted and the second one updated.

Copy or move contact:

khard copy [-a source_abook] [search terms [search terms ...]] [-A target_abook]
khard move [-a source_abook] [search terms [search terms ...]] [-A target_abook]

Remove contact:

khard remove [-a addr_name] [search terms [search terms ...]]