Mac Developer Library Developer


This manual page is for Mac OS X version 10.9

If you are running a different version of Mac OS X, view the documentation locally:

  • In Terminal, using the man(1) command

Reading manual pages

Manual pages are intended as a quick reference for people who already understand a technology.

  • To learn how the manual is organized or to learn about command syntax, read the manual page for manpages(5).

  • For more information about this technology, look for other documentation in the Apple Developer Library.

  • For general information about writing shell scripts, read Shell Scripting Primer.

LOCATE(1)                 BSD General Commands Manual                LOCATE(1)

     locate -- find filenames quickly

     locate [-0Scims] [-l limit] [-d database] pattern ...

     The locate program searches a database for all pathnames which match the specified pattern.  The data-base database
     base is recomputed periodically (usually weekly or daily), and contains the pathnames of all files
     which are publicly accessible.

     Shell globbing and quoting characters (``*'', ``?'', ``\'', ``['' and ``]'') may be used in pattern,
     although they will have to be escaped from the shell.  Preceding any character with a backslash (``\'')
     eliminates any special meaning which it may have.  The matching differs in that no characters must be
     matched explicitly, including slashes (``/'').

     As a special case, a pattern containing no globbing characters (``foo'') is matched as though it were

     Historically, locate only stored characters between 32 and 127.  The current implementation store any
     character except newline (`\n') and NUL (`\0').  The 8-bit character support does not waste extra space
     for plain ASCII file names.  Characters less than 32 or greater than 127 are stored in 2 bytes.

     The following options are available:

     -0          Print pathnames separated by an ASCII NUL character (character code 0) instead of default
                 NL (newline, character code 10).

     -S          Print some statistics about the database and exit.

     -c          Suppress normal output; instead print a count of matching file names.

     -d database
                 Search in database instead of the default file name database.  Multiple -d options are
                 allowed.  Each additional -d option adds the specified database to the list of databases to
                 be searched.

                 The option database may be a colon-separated list of databases.  A single colon is a refer-ence reference
                 ence to the default database.

                 $ locate -d $HOME/lib/mydb: foo

                 will first search string ``foo'' in $HOME/lib/mydb and then in /var/db/locate.database.

                 $ locate -d $HOME/lib/mydb::/cdrom/locate.database foo

                 will first search string ``foo'' in $HOME/lib/mydb and then in /var/db/locate.database and
                 then in /cdrom/locate.database.

                       $ locate -d db1 -d db2 -d db3 pattern

                 is the same as

                       $ locate -d db1:db2:db3 pattern


                       $ locate -d db1:db2 -d db3 pattern

                 If - is given as the database name, standard input will be read instead.  For example, you
                 can compress your database and use:

                 $ zcat database.gz | locate -d - pattern

                 This might be useful on machines with a fast CPU and little RAM and slow I/O.  Note: you
                 can only use one pattern for stdin.

     -i          Ignore case distinctions in both the pattern and the database.

     -l number   Limit output to number of file names and exit.

     -m          Use mmap(2) instead of the stdio(3) library.  This is the default behavior and is faster in
                 most cases.

     -s          Use the stdio(3) library instead of mmap(2).

     LOCATE_PATH  path to the locate database if set and not empty, ignored if the -d option was specified.

     /var/db/locate.database                               locate database
     /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb                          Script to update the locate database
     /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/  Job that starts the database rebuild

     find(1), whereis(1), which(1), fnmatch(3), locate.updatedb(8)

     Woods, James A., "Finding Files Fast", ;login, 8:1, pp. 8-10, 1983.

     The locate command first appeared in 4.4BSD.  Many new features were added in FreeBSD 2.2.

     The locate program may fail to list some files that are present, or may list files that have been
     removed from the system.  This is because locate only reports files that are present in the database,
     which is typically only regenerated once a week by the
     /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ job.  Use find(1) to locate files that are of a
     more transitory nature.

     The locate database is typically built by user ``nobody'' and the locate.updatedb(8) utility skips
     directories which are not readable for user ``nobody'', group ``nobody'', or world.  For example, if
     your HOME directory is not world-readable, none of your files are in the database.

     The locate database is not byte order independent.  It is not possible to share the databases between
     machines with different byte order.  The current locate implementation understands databases in host
     byte order or network byte order if both architectures use the same integer size.  So on a FreeBSD/i386
     machine (little endian), you can read a locate database which was built on SunOS/sparc machine (big
     endian, net).

     The locate utility does not recognize multibyte characters.

BSD                             August 17, 2006                            BSD

Reporting Problems

The way to report a problem with this manual page depends on the type of problem:

Content errors
Report errors in the content of this documentation with the feedback links below.
Bug reports
Report bugs in the functionality of the described tool or API through Bug Reporter.
Formatting problems
Report formatting mistakes in the online version of these pages with the feedback links below.