Splunk® Enterprise

Search Reference

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The metadata command returns a list of source, sourcetypes, or hosts from a specified index or distributed search peer. The metadata command returns information accumulated over time. You can view a snapshot of an index over a specific timeframe, such as the last 7 days, by using the time range picker.

See Usage.


| metadata type=<metadata-type> [<index-specifier>]... [splunk_server=<wc-string>] [splunk_server_group=<wc-string>]...

Required arguments

Syntax: type= hosts | sources | sourcetypes
Description: Specify the type of metadata to return. This must be one of the three literal strings host, sources, or sourcetypes.

Optional arguments

Syntax: index=<index_name>
Description: Specifies the index from which to return results. You can specify more than one index. Wildcard characters (*) can be used. To match non-internal indexes, use index=*. To match internal indexes, use index=_*.
Example: | metadata type=hosts index=cs* index=na* index=ap* index=eu*
Default: The default index, which is usually the main index.
Syntax: splunk_server=<wc-string>
Description: Specifies the distributed search peer from which to return results. If you are using Splunk Cloud, omit this parameter. If you are using Splunk Enterprise, you can specify only one splunk_server argument. However, you can use a wildcard when you specify the server name to indicate multiple servers. For example, you can specify splunk_server=peer01 or splunk_server=peer*. Use local to refer to the search head.
Default: All configured search peers return information
Syntax: splunk_server_group=<wc-string>...
Description: Limits the results to one or more server groups. If you are using Splunk Cloud, omit this parameter. You can specify a wildcard character in the string to indicate multiple server groups.


The metadata command is a generating command and should be the first command in the search. Generating commands use a leading pipe character.

The command shows the first, last, and most recent events that were seen for each value of the specified metadata type. For example, if you search for:

| metadata type=hosts

Your results should look something like this:

This image shows a table of metadata information by host. The fields are host, type, firstTime, lastTime, recentTime, and totalCount.

  • The firstTime field is the timestamp for the first time that the indexer saw an event from this host.
  • The lastTime field is the timestamp for the last time that the indexer saw an event from this host.
  • The recentTime field is the indextime for the most recent time that the index saw an event from this host. In other words, this is the time of the last update.
  • The totalcount field is the total number of events seen from this host.
  • The type field is the specified type of metadata to display. Because this search specifies type=hosts, there is also a host column.

In most cases, when the data is streaming live, the lastTime and recentTime field values are equal. If the data is historical, however, the values might be different.

In small testing environments, the data is complete. However, in environments with large numbers of values for each category, the data might not be complete. This is intentional and allows the metadata command to operate within reasonable time and memory usage.

Time ranges

If you specify a time range other than All Time for your search, the search results might not be precise. The metadata is stored as aggregate numbers for each bucket on the index. A bucket is either included or not included based on the time range you specify.

For example, you run the following search specifying a time range of Last 7 days. The time range corresponds to January 1st to January 7th.

metadata type=sourcetypes index=ap

There is a bucket on the index that contains events from both December 31st and January 1st. The metadata from that bucket is included in the information returned from search.


1. Search multiple indexes

| metadata type=hosts index=cs* index=na* index=ap* index=eu*

2. Return the values of "sourcetypes" for events in the "_internal" index

| metadata type=sourcetypes index=_internal

This returns the following report.

This image shows a table of information for the _internal index by sourcetype.

3. Format the results from the metadata command to be more readable

You can also use the fieldformat command to format the results of firstTime, lastTime, and recentTime.

| metadata type=sourcetypes index=_internal | rename totalCount as Count firstTime as "First Event" lastTime as "Last Event" recentTime as "Last Update" | fieldformat Count=tostring(Count, "commas") | fieldformat "First Event"=strftime('First Event', "%c") | fieldformat "Last Event"=strftime('Last Event', "%c") | fieldformat "Last Update"=strftime('Last Update', "%c")

Now, the results are more readable:

This image shows how the results of renaming the fields returned by the metadata command.

4. Return values of "sourcetype" for events in a specific index on a specific server

Return values of "sourcetype" for events in the "_audit" index on server foo.

| metadata type=sourcetypes index=_audit splunk_server=foo

See also



Have questions? Visit Splunk Answers and see what questions and answers the Splunk community has using the metadata command.

Last modified on 05 January, 2017

This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Enterprise: 6.2.0, 6.2.1, 6.2.2, 6.2.3, 6.2.4, 6.2.5, 6.2.6, 6.2.7, 6.2.8, 6.2.9, 6.2.10, 6.2.11, 6.2.12

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