I have been finding it difficult to find the files I need on my system and could use some advice or documentation source. Out of the box using the file manager, I have a search box, but I cannot find settings for it and have no idea how comprehensive the search it is conducting is. Is it recursive in subdirectories? Is it searching the content of files, if so which kinds? etc. I can find very little online about the search engine or how to use it. Some info states that Tracker is included by default. If so, I cannot find it in the applications menu, although there is a file called kernal oops tracker. Is that the app? I'm sure there has to be a better approach than what I have found so far. Any help is appreciated.

Added: I come from Windows world, and my basic expectation is that a file search engine include:

  • Search the contents of a file
  • File type, dates, file size filters etc.
  • A display that tells be what subdirectory a 'found' file is in as well as other relevant file info.
  • Some basic documentation on how to use any of these capabilities if they exist

1 Answer 1


Yes it's recursive and it starts in the directory that it is currently viewing. It is also quite comprehensive and will find a string that is part of a filename. If you play around with the searchbar in Nautilus (the file browser) you will find it quite useful and simple.

  • What about text inside of a file? It does not appear to be searched. Also, it does not tell me what directory the file is in, its size or any other info. There is no documentation and I am new to Ubuntu, so playing around with a search box has not been very productive.
    – Ashlar
    May 7, 2012 at 14:40
  • Text in a plaintext file can be searched. Possibly the most powerful tool is the commandline grep. Use grep --help to get the commands for it. You could also do man grep to get a bigger list of stuff. Nautilus has a context sensitive help. Get up the searchbar in Nautilus and click help in the to panel.
    – barrydrake
    May 7, 2012 at 15:00

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