I get to use the locate command extremely often.

So if I run the following command.

locate updatedb | head -1

Then it gives me the O/p


I wonder if there is any such command that can let me open that file directly?

I am hoping for something like this.

locate updatedb | head -1 | vim

4 Answers 4


You're nearly done:

$ locate updatedb | head -1 | xargs vim

sometimes (under certain terminals) you need reset the terminal after editing.

$ reset
  • 2
    Most probably your version of locate have -l / --limit / -n option so you do not need head -1: locate -n 1 updatedb | xargs vim Jun 16, 2014 at 17:19
  • 2
    Why does this terminal corruption happen? Is there any way to avoid it? Nov 28, 2014 at 12:43

As an interactive editor, Vim needs both stdin and stdout, so using it within a pipe is problematic and makes Vim warn about this. For just a single file, process substitution solves this easily:

vim "$(locate updatedb | head -1)"

You can also use backticks, and that even works inside Vim itself:

:edit `locate updatedb | head -1`
  • This also works on strings with spaces, which is nice for file names like "version 2 - final.csv". Jan 5, 2018 at 16:52

In addition to the above answer, to avoid the "terminal corruption" stated by Jacobo de Vera in the comment, use the xargs option -o or --open-tty to make vim assume the input is from a terminal, not stdin.

$ locate updatedb | head -1 | xargs -o vim

See: https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/44428/307359


I know this is bad solution but I used this for creating alias in .bashrc:

locate updatedb  > /tmp/vimForTempDontTouch && vim /tmp/vimForTempDontTouch

Downsides: ugly

Advantage: No side effects with terminal

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