searchfs is a Mac command line tool to quickly search by filename on entire HFS+ and APFS volumes. Searching takes place at the driver level using the file system catalog. This means the volume's directory tree can be scanned much faster than with a standard recursive filename search using
Search is case-insensitive by default. See the man page for details.
Build & Install
git clone https://github.com/sveinbjornt/searchfs.git
Installs binary into
/usr/local/bin/. Man page goes into
According to my benchmarks,
searchfs runs about 35-50% faster than
find under typical conditions.
The following are benchmark results on a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro with an Apple-supplied 512 GB SSD running an APFS file system containing about 2 million files:
$ time searchfs "something" 0,01s user 33,15s system 32% cpu 1:33,59 total
$ time find / -name "*something*" 9,53s user 67,64s system 49% cpu 2:37,39 total
Although I have yet to test this properly,
searchfs is probably much faster than
find on hard disk drives, which have higher seek times.
Apple added file system catalog search to Mac OS with the introduction of the Hiearchical File System (HFS) back in 1985. HFS replaced the previous flat table structure in the old MFS file system with a catalog file using a B-tree structure. Unlike Windows' FAT file system, HFS (and later, HFS+) thus arranged the entire directory tree into one large file on the disk, with interlinked nodes that did not match the hierarchical folder structure. This meant that volumes could be searched very quickly regardless of size.
The Classic Mac OS exposed this functionality via the FSCatalogSearch() function, which iterated efficiently over the nodes, thus minimizing disk seek times. In the pre-SSD era, this gave the Mac a significant performance advantage over Windows when it came to full-volume search. For a long time, FSCatalogSearch continued to be available in Mac OS X / macOS via the Carbon APIs but it has now been deprecated and does not support APFS, Apple's new file system.
However, catalog search for both HFS+ and APFS remains available in Darwin's low-level system libraries via the searchfs() function. The
searchfs program makes use of this function.
- The API supports searching the catalog for files based on creation, modification, access date, finder flags, deprecated old-school file and creator types,, and so on. Add that.
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