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Yeah, this will be replaced... But please enjoy the search!

Using locate in Mac OS X

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As you might be aware of there is an entire world below the pretty window manager in Mac OS X. It has many names, I usually refer to it as the console. However, finding and managing files in it can be a hassle unless you are aware of a large variety of commands. This guide will describe the 'locate' command.


The manual sais 'locate -- find filenames quickly' and 'The locate program searches a database for all pathnames which match the specified pattern.' which is very true. Basically locate searches a locally stored database. Default in Mac OS X the locate database isn't generated, and there is no need to unless you are a console user. To enable this you have to open a console and type
$ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.locate.plist
This commands automates the locate database a bit. If we look at the file (/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.locate.plist) we can see the following data
This means the indexing should appear 3:15 every Saturday. I suppose it's a normal and quite good time to index the database, but being able to update it manually is a very good option sometimes as well too. To do this simply run
$ sudo /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb

# To simplify this you can create an alias, type
$ sudo ln -s /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb /usr/bin/updatedb

# Now you can simply type
$ sudo updatedb

Using the database

This is very simple, just type
$ locate <searchterm>

# Example
$ locate apachectl

# Will return something like this
Fancy huh :)