Content Detection

This page gives you information on how content and language detection works with Apache Tika, and how to tune the behaviour of Tika.

The Detector Interface

The org.apache.tika.detect.Detector interface is the basis for most of the content type detection in Apache Tika. All the different ways of detecting content all implement the same common method:

MediaType detect( input,
                 Metadata metadata) throws

The detect method takes the stream to inspect, and a Metadata object that holds any additional information on the content. The detector will return a MediaType object describing its best guess as to the type of the file.

In general, only two keys on the Metadata object are used by Detectors. These are Metadata.RESOURCE_NAME_KEY which should hold the name of the file (where known), and Metadata.CONTENT_TYPE which should hold the advertised content type of the file (eg from a webserver or a content repository).

Mime Magic Detection

By looking for special ("magic") patterns of bytes near the start of the file, it is often possible to detect the type of the file. For some file types, this is a simple process. For others, typically container based formats, the magic detection may not be enough. (More detail on detecting container formats below)

Tika is able to make use of a a mime magic info file, in the Freedesktop MIME-info format to peform mime magic detection. (Note that Tika supports a few more match types than Freedesktop does)

This is provided within Tika by org.apache.tika.detect.MagicDetector. It is most commonly access via org.apache.tika.mime.MimeTypes, normally sourced from the tika-mimetypes.xml and custom-mimetypes.xml files. For more information on defining your own custom mimetypes, see the new parser guide.

Resource Name Based Detection

Where the name of the file is known, it is sometimes possible to guess the file type from the name or extension. Within the tika-mimetypes.xml file is a list of patterns which are used to identify the type from the filename.

However, because files may be renamed, this method of detection is quick but not always as accurate.

This is provided within Tika by org.apache.tika.detect.NameDetector.

Known Content Type "Detection

Sometimes, the mime type for a file is already known, such as when downloading from a webserver, or when retrieving from a content store. This information can be used by detectors, such as org.apache.tika.mime.MimeTypes,

The default Mime Types Detector

By default, the mime type detection in Tika is provided by org.apache.tika.mime.MimeTypes. This detector makes use of tika-mimetypes.xml to power magic based and filename based detection.

Firstly, magic based detection is used on the start of the file. If the file is an XML file, then the start of the XML is processed to look for root elements. Next, if available, the filename (from Metadata.RESOURCE_NAME_KEY) is then used to improve the detail of the detection, such as when magic detects a text file, and the filename hints it's really a CSV. Finally, if available, the supplied content type (from Metadata.CONTENT_TYPE) is used to further refine the type.

Container Aware Detection

Several common file formats are actually held within a common container format. One example is the PowerPoint .ppt and Word .doc formats, which are both held within an OLE2 container. Another is Apple iWork formats, which are actually a series of XML files within a Zip file.

Using magic detection, it is easy to spot that a given file is an OLE2 document, or a Zip file. Using magic detection alone, it is very difficult (and often impossible) to tell what kind of file lives inside the container.

For some use cases, speed is important, so having a quick way to know the container type is sufficient. For other cases however, you don't mind spending a bit of time (and memory!) processing the container to get a more accurate answer on its contents. For these cases, the additional container aware detectors contained in the Tika Parsers jar should be used.

Tika provides a wrapping detector in the form of org.apache.tika.detect.DefaultDetector. This uses the service loader to discover all available detectors, including any available container aware ones, and tries them in turn. For container aware detection, include the Tika Parsers jar and its dependencies in your project, then use DefaultDetector along with a TikaInputStream.

Because these container detectors needs to read the whole file to open and inspect the container, they must be used with a If called with a regular InputStream, then all work will be done by the default Mime Magic detection only.

For more information on container formats and Tika, see

The default Tika Detector

Just as with Parsers, Tika provides a special detector org.apache.tika.detect.DefaultDetector which auto-detects (based on service files) the available detectors at runtime, and tries these in turn to identify the file type.

If only Tika Core is available, the Default Detector will work only with Mime Magic and Resource Name detection. However, if Tika Parsers (and its dependencies!) are available, additional detectors which known about containers (such as zip and ole2) will be used as appropriate, provided that detection is being performed with a Custom detectors can also be used as desired, they simply need to be listed in a service file much as is done for custom parsers.

Ways of triggering Detection

The simplest way to detect is through the Tika Facade class, which provides methods to detect based on File, InputStream, InputStream and Filename, Filename or a few others. It works best with a File or TikaInputStream.

Alternately, detection can be performed on a specific Detector, or using DefaultDetector to have all available Detectors used. A typical pattern would be something like:

TikaConfig tika = new TikaConfig();

for (File f : myListOfFiles) {
   Metadata metadata = new Metadata();
   metadata.set(Metadata.RESOURCE_NAME_KEY, f.toString());
   String mimetype = tika.getDetector().detect(
        TikaInputStream.get(f), metadata);
   System.out.println("File " + f + " is " + mimetype);
for (InputStream is : myListOfStreams) {
   String mimetype = tika.getDetector().detect(
        TikaInputStream.get(is), new Metadata());
   System.out.println("Stream " + is + " is " + mimetype);

Language Detection

Tika is able to help identify the language of a piece of text, which is useful when extracting text from document formats which do not include language information in their metadata.

The language detection is provided by org.apache.tika.language.LanguageIdentifier

More Examples

For more examples of Detection using Apache Tika, please take a look at the Tika Examples page.