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locate(1) General Commands Manual locate(1)


plocate - find files by name, quickly


plocate [OPTION]... PATTERN...


plocate finds all files on the system matching the given pattern (or all of the patterns if multiple are given). It does this by means of an index made by updatedb(8) or (less commonly) converted from another index by plocate-build(8).

plocate is largely argument-compatible with mlocate(1), but is significantly faster. In particular, it rarely needs to scan through its entire database, unless the pattern is very short (less than three bytes) or you want to search for a regular expression. It does not try to maintain compatibility with BSD locate, or non-UTF-8 filenames and locales. Most I/O is done asynchronously, but the results are synchronized so that output comes in the same order every time.

When multiple patterns are given, plocate will search for files that match all of them. This is the main incompatibility with mlocate(1), which searches for files that match one or more patterns, unless the -A option is given.

By default, patterns are taken to be substrings to search for. If at least one non-escaped globbing metacharacter (*, ? or []) is given, that pattern is instead taken to be a glob pattern (which means it needs to start and end in * for a substring match). If --regexp is given, patterns are instead taken to be (non-anchored) POSIX basic regular expressions, and if --regex is given, patterns are taken to be POSIX extended regular expressions. All of this matches mlocate(1) behavior.

Like mlocate(1), plocate shows all files visible to the calling user (by virtue of having read and execute permissions on all parent directories), and none that are not, by means of running with the setgid bit set to access the index (which is built as root), but by testing visibility as the calling user.


plocate exits with 0 to indicate that a match was found or that --help or --version were passed. Otherwise, plocate exits with status code 1, indicating that an error occurred or that no matches were found.


Ignored for compatibility with mlocate(1).

Match only against the file name portion of the path name, ie., the directory names will be excluded from the match (but still printed). This does not speed up the search, but can suppress uninteresting matches.

Do not print each match. Instead, count them, and print out a total number at the end.

Find matches in the given database, instead of /var/lib/plocate/plocate.db. This argument can be given multiple times, to search multiple databases. It is also possible to give multiple databases in one argument, separated by :. (Any character, including : and \, can be escaped by prepending a \.)

Print only entries that refer to files existing at the time locate is run. Note that unlike mlocate(1), symlinks are not followed by default (and indeed, there is no option to change this).

Do a case-insensitive match as given by the current locale (default is case-sensitive, byte-by-byte match). Note that plocate does not support the full range of Unicode case folding rules; in particular, searching for ß will not give you matches on ss even in a German locale. Also note that this option will be somewhat slower than a case-sensitive match, since it needs to generate more candidates for searching the index.

Stop searching after LIMIT matches have been found. If --count is given, the number printed out will be at most LIMIT.

Print entry names without quoting. Normally, plocate will escape special characters in filenames, so that they are safe for consumption by typical shells (similar to the GNU coreutils shell-escape-always quoting style), unless printing to a pipe, but this options will turn off such quoting.

-0, --null
Instead of writing a newline after every match, write a NUL (ASCII 0). This is useful for creating unambiguous output when it is to be processed by other tools (like xargs(1)), as filenames are allowed to contain embedded newlines.

Patterns are taken to be POSIX basic regular expressions. See regex(7) for more information. Note that this forces a linear scan through the entire database, which is slow.

Like --regexp, but patterns are instead taken to be POSIX extended regular expressions.

Match against the entire path name. This is the default, so unless -b is given first (see above), it will not do anything. This option thus exists only as compatibility with mlocate(1).

Print out usage information, then exit successfully.

Print out version information, then exit successfully.


If given, appended after the list of --database paths (whether an explicit is given or the default is used). Colon-delimiting and character escaping follows the same rules as for --database.


Steinar H. Gunderson <>


plocate-build(8), mlocate(1), updatedb(8)

Oct 2020 plocate