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Locator - A super fast GUI-based file finder Pick of the Week
Locator iconThe macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[0 to 10 lights; 10 = perfect!]
Locator is a GUI front-end to the UNIX 'locate' command, which helps you find files on your system. Why would you want to use Locator (or even 'locate') when Apple includes Command-F for find? One reason - speed. The locate command creates a database of everything on your hard drive, meaning that searches are nearly instantaneous. For example, a Locator search on ".mov" in my /Volumes directory (basically all mounted drives) found 800 results in a second or two. Try that same command using Command-F and you'll wait quite a while before getting the results (it was working on it for a couple of minutes while I did other stuff, and only had found a couple hundred before I stopped it).

Locator puts a very easy to use interface on top of the 'locate' command. Instead of having to open a terminal and type "locate" followed by a string of commands to help narrow and sort the search results, just launch Locator. You can drag in volumes, run grep searches, do "contains," "begins with, "ends with," and "is" style searches, search again within the results, and much more. As it's a full-blown Cocoa app, there's even a nice customizable toolbar. About the only thing that command-F has going for it above Locator is the ability to specify selected drives for the search locations; Locator seems to work on all or one, but not selected, volumes (someone please correct me if I'm wrong!).

The only real downside to locate is also the fact that it uses a database. If you create a new file and then use locate immediately, you won't find the new file in the locate results as the database is only updated at certain intervals. But this is another area where Locator shines. When you launch it, it checks how recently the database has been updated and asks if you'd like to update it now (there's also a menu item to update the database whenever you like).

I've been using Locator for a long time, and just had never thought to make it a PotW, until someone submitted a recommendation for it via the hint submittal form ... and then I realized just how often I use it (I almost never use Command-F). Locator is an essential piece of sofwtare on my machines ... the fact that it's freeware is an amazing added bonus.
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Locator - A super fast GUI-based file finder | 14 comments | Create New Account
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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say. essential app
Authored by: Glanz on Jan 27, '03 11:21:18AM

This is an essential app for anyone using Fink, or Apple X11 with Open Darwin. Occasionally it is necessary to delete, modify, or add a file. \"Where\" is the $1,000,000 question. Locator will locate any file within a few seconds.... This is expecially useful for someone who is continually installing and un installing applications. This app will help the user to not only delete an application, but also all related files that no longer have a use.

This is a rare app. It has never crashed, never flinched, and it works flawlessly on all versions of OS X.

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Sherlock is slow, okay, but finder ?
Authored by: little_dude on Jan 27, '03 11:37:07AM

Sherlock admittedly sucks square donkey balls when it comes to file searching. But the new, finder integrated search is more than fast enough for me. I've never had to wait longer than a few secs, which is exactly what locate claims... So why burden your dock with it ?

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Sherlock is slow, okay, but finder ?
Authored by: digiraptor on Jan 27, '03 12:05:38PM

I use both cmd F and Locator. The two features of Locator that appeal to me - finds invisible files without TinkerTooling; catalogues and archives removable media, such as my data CDs.

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Sherlock is slow, okay, but finder ?
Authored by: artdroid on Jan 27, '03 12:38:23PM

Try having 20-30 Archive DVD's filled with graphic file projects and popping one in and doing a search on it sometime.... ssssssslllllooooooowwwwwwwww.

Locator however pre-indexes everything on those DVD's for me and I can search using it and find what specific DVD I need to load without ever initially loading a disc.

Granted much of the time I may simply use Cmd-F but Locator is very slick and a great improvement to the built-in functionality without having to tie yourself down to a separate stand-alone app.

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Updating the Locate Database can be a real drag
Authored by: rsnyder on Jan 27, '03 07:22:25PM

Prior to Jaguar I used to use Locator all the time, but less so now that the Finder Find is so fast I don't use it much. It is a good tool, but due to the nature of the locate database, it may not be right for everyone all the time.

The benefit to Locator over Finder is that Locator returns results that include hidden files and files in the hidden directories.

The down side to Locator is that the results are only as current as the last time you updated the locate database. Since the system has to reindex your whole drive each time, that can take several minutes. The locate database should be updated each week as part of the Unix weekly chron process, however a weekly update is too infrequent for most users.

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Updating the Locate Database:
Authored by: scoog on Jan 27, '03 11:41:32PM

In your Terminal app., type -
sudo /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb
Hit return, give up your password, it's all right, the system already knows it ;-]
Of course you can do this from within Locator, the cocoa app also.
locate will add to the database, all files on all drives&disks attached at the time of update.
If you need to do some searches on a dense CDR two days later, there you are, nearly instant results.
I like it.

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Updating the Locate Database can be a real drag
Authored by: hombre on Jan 28, '03 06:49:35PM

Yes, once a week is not adequate. That is why I added an entry to my crontab to update the database every night:

0 1 * * * root /usr/libexec/locate.updatedb

Aside to rainer3 and Krioni: ROTFL :)

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Not working 0.73
Authored by: bluehz on Jan 28, '03 12:37:21AM

Downloaded the 0.73 version of Locator today and it doesn't seem to work for me in OS X 10.2.3. I have an older version 0.7 that works fine. When I launch 0.73 it costantly indicates "loading database...". Any attempots to search - simply locks up the app with spinning beachball. Have to force quit.

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Not working 0.73
Authored by: arti.66 on Jan 28, '03 03:52:59AM

Do you have aliases to servers in your favorites folder? Every time I launch locator it trys to mount those servers. If they aren't available on my network I get the beach ball for several minutes.

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Not working 0.73
Authored by: bluehz on Jan 28, '03 08:29:20AM

As a matter of fact I do have an alias to a server on my LAN in favorites. When I launch Locator I get a dialog to login to server and dismiss it not logging in. This is unacceptable behaviour. I will stick with the older 0.7 release that doesn't have that problem.

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alternative to locator
Authored by: alec kinnear on Jan 28, '03 01:30:10AM
locator is great but as mentioned above needs regular update. it also doesn't supply enough info about a file when you've found it. after using locator for a long time, i actually prefer to us CDFinder 3.6 and keep the local databases up-to-date (not a lot slower than locator). this allows me to keep my archival and current searching in one place.

in fairness i use both solutions much less now that the finder does a reasonably good job searching. i have five disks inside my tower so i sometimes still prefer cdfinder as the results are instant and don't require spinning up all the disks.

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I like it, but...
Authored by: acalvet on Jan 28, '03 03:49:05AM

Locator has something very good, thinking it's a freeware, but it laso has some limitations. I.E., I've an external Firewire disk which Locator can find files on, but it cannot reach them from the result window. It shows the path, but if I want to reach the file directly, it says "the file does not seem to exist". I hope they'll develop this app in future versions (with backgound database update etc).
In the meanwhile I'll continue using Finder search and CDFinder.

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Flashback to ST:TNG
Authored by: rainer3 on Jan 28, '03 10:52:50AM

I see 9 lights.

(At least as of 10:51 EDST.)

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Flashback to ST:TNG
Authored by: Krioni on Jan 28, '03 01:43:40PM

There are FOUR lights!!

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