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Chapter 4. Task and Setting Index > Searching for and Locating Files

Searching for and Locating Files

Find a file when I don't know its name?

Finder → enter a keyword in the Search field in the toolbar → hit Return to start the search

Finder → File → Find (-F)

Index my hard drive to allow for content-based searching?

Finder → Computer → Macintosh HD → File → Get Info → click on the disclosure triangle next to "Content index" → click on the "Index Now" button.

The Finder does not index filenames—only the contents of files. However, you can still search for filenames.

Find a file when I can't remember where I saved it?

Use the locate command in the Terminal. However, you must first update the locate database as follows:

[macchuck:~] chuck% cd /usr/libexec
[macchuck:/usr/libexec] chuck% sudo ./locate.updatedb

If you haven't built the locate database yet, this command could take a few minutes to run; afterwards, you will be returned to the command line.

The locate.updatedb command is executed weekly by default, as noted in the /etc/weekly file. However, you might want to issue this command shortly after installing Mac OS X.

Now you can use the locate command; for example:

[macchuck:/usr/libexec] chuck% locate temp98.doc
[macchuck:/usr/libexec] chuck%

In this example, we used locate to search for the file temp98.doc; in return, the command tells us where the file is located.

Indexing your hard drive via Get Info allows you to do context searches, while building the locate database helps speed things up when you're searching for a filename. Use both the Finder and the command line to your advantage.

Where is the locate database stored?

It is stored in /var/db/locate.database.

How can I speed up my Finder searches?

Finder → Preferences → Languages for searching file contents; click on the Select button, and choose the checkboxes for the languages you want to base your searches on. Unless you're working in a multilingual environment, you should select only your primary language.

Clear the Finder's search field?

Click on the X at the right edge of the search field.

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