I'm trying to use locate to find files, but I'm not getting anything back from the program. It can't even find files that are in the current directory. How do I make locate work?

  • use sudo updatedb ?
    – ukanth
    Commented Nov 23, 2009 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


In essence, you have to run updatedb first, as this builds the database that locate uses.
Simply do updatedb --localpaths=c:/ as a first shot solution.

See this blog post for a bunch of good tips, including how to setup up updatedb via cygwin cron: https://web.archive.org/web/20061114000822/www.weiqigao.com/blog/2006/08/14/ten_steps_to_higher_cygwin_productivity.html (updated link to archive.org)

Google cygwin updatedb for a relevant post if you are having trouble with paths that include spaces. I am not getting any trouble (other than permission denied) on WinXP Pro, but other platforms may require this.

  • 5
    The blogpost has a new address, webpages.charter.net/weiqigao/2006/08/14/… Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 13:07
  • I've found that a simple invocation of updatedb won't work in Cygwin, as the default options (or --localpaths=c:/) will lead it into following links into infinite loops. I think this is because certain types of Windows 7 links don't appear as symbolic links to Cygwin, so it can't skip them (as the default -follow behavior is, counter-intuitively, supposed to)
    – Phil Goetz
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 15:35
  • The blogpost is unreachable.It would be better to inline its advice here. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 10:05
  • 1
    Thanks @reinierpost, fixed the link. The post is too long to inline, IMHO.
    – dirkjot
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 5:49

To use locate you need to run updatedb first.


I think the command you want is find

Do man find to see the syntax and options

The locate command runs against a pre-built database of filenames

  • Yes, locate runs against a pre-built database. Why does that mean the OP wants find instead?
    – CarlF
    Commented Nov 23, 2009 at 15:01
  • 1
    Find will at least do the job that is being requested if locate is not present or for what-ever reason not functioning. More slowly, as it won't have the pre-prepared data to search, but it will work and the results are more likely to be properly uptodate and complete (updatedb may have been configured to exclude some parts of the filesystem). Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 13:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .