Is there a CLI tool similar to gnome-search-tool? I'm using locate, but I'd prefer that it grouped results where directory name is matched. I get a lot of results where the path is matched which is not what I want:


It needs to be fast and thus use a search index.

  • One should not forget the capabilities of global search from within Emacs using helm or ivy. – m33lky Feb 21 '18 at 19:31

locate is very versatile can take -r and a regexp pattern, so you can do lots of sophisticated matching. For example, to match directories a a0 a1 and so on use '/a[0-9]*/'. This will only show directories with files in them since you need the second / in the path. To match the directory alone use $ to anchor the pattern to the end of the path, '/a[0-9]*$'.

Note, there are at least 2 versions of the locate command, one from GNU, and one from Redhat (known as mlocate). Use --version to find which you have. They differ slightly in the regex style. For example, if we change the above pattern '/a[0-9]*$' to use + instead of * to avoid matching a on its own, then mlocate needs \+ and gnu just +.

For example, to match a directory a and all underneath it you might use for both versions

locate -r '/a\(/\|$\)'

For mlocate you might prefex --regex which uses extended syntax

locate --regex '/a(/|$)'

To do the same for gnu locate you would need to add option --regextype egrep, for example.


fzf is a general-purpose command-line fuzzy finder.

and their github page is https://github.com/junegunn/fzf

  • 2
    @GAD3R the whole point of this question is to find alternative tools, so a link to the tool is entirely appropriate... Ayyanar, it would nevertheless be interesting to add a bit more information in your answer about the fsf’s features. (You can still edit your answer to improve it!) – Stephen Kitt Feb 12 '18 at 8:57

Standard Linux commands for this are :

  • find command to look for file names, for example:

    • look for files named xyz in /tmp

      $ find /tmp -type f -name xyz
    • look for directories which name contains 'xyz' in /tmp

      $ find /tmp -type d -name '*xyz*'
  • find and grep commands to search in file contents, for example:

    • find files in /tmp which contain xyz

      $ find /tmp -type f -exec grep -l xyz {} \;
  • I've updated the question. find cannot benefit from the search index part of locate as far as I know. – m33lky Feb 12 '18 at 16:41

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