LOCATE(1)                    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 database is recomputed periodically (usually weekly
     or daily), and contains the pathnames of all files which are publicly

     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 “*foo*”.

     Historically, locate only stored characters between 32 and 127.  The
     current implementation stores 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

     -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

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

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

                 will first search string “foo” in $HOME/lib/mydb and then in

                 $ 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/com.apple.locate.plist  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/com.apple.locate.plist 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.

macOS 12.1                      December 11, 2020                     macOS 12.1