On the command line I regularly use locate, or more often a locate x | grep y pattern to find a file I know exists but can't find!

I'd like something that did this quickly in the GUI. Can't find it if it's there.

Here's my confusion

  • In the applications/overview I can see Search and Indexing. This seems to be a configuration tool. But if this is a server, I can't find a client.

  • In applications I find Nepomuk File Indexing -- I think this is a KDE thing? Ditto, no client?

  • I've installed tracker. This is a strange mix of powerful and unreliable/limited. e.g. it doesn't find files like locate does (returns no results where locate returns 96 results), but is will unpack every tag I've added to my photos! And you can't limit by folder for a quick search within a folder.

  • The old Gnome 2 Search for files... thing is not in the Accessories menu anymore.

I feel that this is basic/core-level functionality and I can't help feeling I'm missing something obvious.

  • I think you are looking for gnome-search-tool which was removed in 12.04 unfortunately for the price of integrated Tracker, AFAIK. I guess you can access it from Nautilus and Dash, but I'm not sure. Not great decision, as search syntax for Tracker is awful, IMHO. Try searching repository for gnome-search-tool – zetah Mar 9 '12 at 20:12
  • 1
    How is tracker integrated? into what? Overview? How to use it? – artfulrobot Mar 9 '12 at 22:50
  • I don't know the details. If you want to know tracker syntax google for tracker sparql, which I have no idea if you can use in 12.04 (Nautilus/Dash where this feature is implemented). Better download gnome-search-tool and do your searches like you are used to. – zetah Mar 10 '12 at 0:01

There are several ways you can do this.

  1. Open Files and click the Search button. This is the easiest and recommended choice since it's installed by default.
  2. Or you can install gnome-search-tool Install gnome-search-tool
  3. Or you can install tracker-gui Install tracker-gui
  • Thanks for answering. 1 works for filenames but does not appear to be using an index. 2 works but does not appear to be using an index (at least not for content searches, based on a 15 minute search I just did!) but has a lot of filter options. 3 doesn't work - fails to find basic filename substring matches. – artfulrobot Mar 11 '12 at 7:36
  • +1 for the gnome-search-tool, a very intuitive way to search for a novice in linux(ubuntu). The 1-st (default) option is awful. – Nikolay Ivanov Oct 24 '14 at 6:53
  • @artfulrobot run first tracker-preferences so setup and start tracker index service. Look similar to the silver searcher. – Pablo Bianchi Jul 14 '17 at 22:41

I was also looking for this myself as I find Unity too slow (Ubuntu 12.10). Best thing I've found so far is Synapse. Ctrl + Spacebar to activate once installed.

  • 1
    I think This only searches recent documents by name as it used Zeitgeist. – artfulrobot Nov 9 '12 at 7:06
  • 1
    No Synapse searches everything. Really good, works a bit odd in Kubuntu, but fine in Ubuntu... – pst007x Oct 19 '13 at 12:18


You can also install catfish package (written in Python):

Catfish is a search GUI powered by locate and find behind the scenes, with autocompletion from Zeitgeist and locate. The advanced options allow filtering by date and file type. The interface is intentionally lightweight and simple, using only GTK+.



  • Simple and lightweight, seems to use locate first and then find, so it combines indexed and non-indexed search... looks great so far – golimar Sep 22 '18 at 11:05

You can install

apt install searchmonkey

If you want to use it in Thunar:

  • open Edit > Configure custom actions

  • Click on the + sign to open a new child window

  • In the tab titled Basic, enter Search for files in the Name box

  • In the Command box, enter searchmonkey -d %f or choose something from the command parameters provided

Then open the Appearance Conditions tab. In there, enter * as the File Pattern and tick the appropriate choice below Appears if selection contains:

Click OK. Close the Custom Actions window.

You should see the option Search for files when you click on File in Thunar's menu bar now.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.