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7 Essential Tools to Search the Filesystem

Desktop search is a software application which searches the contents of computer files, rather than searching the internet. The purpose of this software is to enable the user to locate information on their computer that they just cannot seem to find. Typically, this data includes emails, chat logs, documents, contact lists, graphics files, as well as multimedia files including video and audio.

Searching a hard disk can be slow, especially bearing in mind the large storage capacities of modern hard disks. To ensure considerably better performance, desktop search engines build and maintain an index database. Populating this database is a system intensive activity. Consequently, desktop search engines can carry out indexing when the computer is not being used.

One of the key benefits of this type of software is that it allows the user to locate data stored on their hard disk almost instantaneously. They are designed to be fast. They are not integrated with a different application, such as a file manager.

We have included command-line tools. And if you prefer using the command-line, don’t forget the venerable find and locate utilities that are found in all popular distributions. While find is a very useful utility, it can be slow searching. Locate searches for files very quickly using a database file.

Here’s our recommendations. They are all published under an open source license.

Best Free Open Source Search Tools

Let’s explore the 7 tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

Linux offers an unsurpassed breadth of open source small utilities that perform functions ranging from the mundane to the wonderful. These tools help make Linux a compelling operating system. This series of articles identifies indispensable open source utilities which make using Linux that bit more special.

Search Tools
ripgrepRecursively search directories for a regex pattern
fzfCommand-line fuzzy finder for your shell
pecoInteractive filtering tool
McFlyNavigate through your shell history
catfishVersatile search GUI powered by locate and find
FSearchFast file search utility based on GTK+3
ANGRYsearchLike FSearch, a search tool inspired by Everything Search Engine
Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions.
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