Trying to locate a file, how can I search the entire hard drive for a file?


A simple find / -type f -name "" would do the trick if you know exact filename.

find / -type f -iname "filename*" if you want to match more files (ignore case).

Avoid -type option if you want to search for directories etc. See manual of find for more information. To see the manual, issue the command:

man find

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    This will also search all mounted devices as well, might want to just search /mount/hddyouwanttosearch – Callum Rogers Dec 21 '11 at 12:28
  • Worth noting that find is really slow, compared to an indexed search system, such as locate (but also more powerful) – tumbleweed Dec 23 '11 at 6:30
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    note that one might wish to add sudo ahead of the mentioned command – Divyanshu Srivastava Sep 17 '20 at 9:16

You could also use locate to look for commands. Why do people use locate if find does the job? Because locate is much faster than find since it just searches through database(s) of indexed locations to find your file/regex.


locate some-file.avi searches through database(s) of almost every file on the disk for a file called "some-file.avi".

locate -i "some-file.avi" will ignore the case of the file you are searching for.

locate -i "*.txt" will display a list of locations of all the files with **.txt* extension on your system.

man locate for more info on the file.

You might need to run updatedb first to ensure the index database is up to date, otherwise, 'locate' might not return what you are looking for.

  • Note that updatedb must be run as root. – Rafał Cieślak Dec 28 '11 at 15:56
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    this is WAY faster than find \ holy cow... thanks! – anon58192932 May 13 '14 at 18:51
  • If updatedb adds / to the index by default, how can it still be faster than find /? – Hashim Aziz Dec 12 '18 at 16:11

Start by clicking the "Home Folder" icon in the launcher.

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In the window that opens, click "Search".

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Type what you want to search for in the box, then press enter. enter image description here

Under the dropdown for location, choose your hard drive, then click reload.

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The results will then be displayed. Hope that helps!

  • 4
    The man who asked it states he uses a server, so there is no GUI. But that's a great answer anyway! – Rafał Cieślak Dec 28 '11 at 15:57

If you're looking for a string inside a file, you can use grep. Here's a sample command:

grep -r -i "some string" /home/yourusername

This will find "some string" in /home/yourusername directory. The search will ignore case (-i) and recurse directories (-r). You can use / as the directory to search in the whole directory but that might not be very efficient.


On Ubuntu, i know that everyone wants to be dogmatic about using command line all the time, and I have in the past been that way, but I love the Gnome "Search for files..." tool. I think its awesome.

  • 4
    well i'm on a server – Blankman Dec 21 '11 at 4:50
  • You should try then the KDE search. It is far better than the gnome one. I am still waiting for Nautilus to catch up with the versatility that the KDE search system has. Dolphin/Konqueror are far better because of it. – Luis Alvarado Dec 21 '11 at 4:53
  • Yeah, I was thinking about switching to Kubuntu actually. I'll take a look at it. – djangofan Dec 22 '11 at 1:04

For a Desktop setup, Install "gnome-search-tool"
sudo apt-get install gnome-search-tool

Don't install this in a server, it will also install the ubuntu desktop package.
Thanks to @Rinzwind for pointing that out.

Filters inlude:

  1. Choose the folder you want to search. In this case \
  2. Contains the text - this is the file name.
  3. Date Modified - less or more than in number of days.
  4. File size - at least or at most a specified size. You can also search empty files.
  5. File owner - user, group or unrecognized owner.
  6. Regular expressions - matches regular expressions.
  7. You can choose to show hidden files, follow symbolic links or exclude other filesystems.

enter image description here

  • @Rinzwind The question was Trying to locate a file, how can I search the entire hard drive for a file? There is no 'server-install' anywhere... – Parto Feb 27 '14 at 12:43
  • @Rinzwind Hahah. Nice one. Let me edit my answer and say this is for a desktop setup alone. – Parto Feb 27 '14 at 12:50

If you don't want to remember find (which is a very powerful) parameters you could install from official repos:

  • kfind - file search utility
  • gnome-search-tool - GNOME tool to search files
  • catfish - File searching tool which is configurable via the command line

The three of them are great, but I found kfind the best.

From Ubuntu Community help wiki you might find useful:

  • dpkg -L|--listfiles ... List files `owned' by package(s).
  • dpkg -S|--search ... Find package(s) owning file(s).

If need to find nested in some dirs:

find / -type f -wholename "*foo/bar/filename"

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