[Windows] Quickly find files and folders on your computer with Locate32

locate1dotTech has an excellent review on best free desktop search program for Windows. However, if you have not yet found a desktop search program which you like, then you have come to the right place. Locate32 is a lightweight and simple file searching program. It’s designed so that you can search any folder or drive on your computer to find exactly what you need. Unlike other file searching programs, Locate32 isn’t frilly and stuffed with unnecessary features. It does exactly what it says and nothing else.


Main Functionality

Locate32 is a desktop search program. It scans your disks and folders for files and creates a list of what you’re searching for. It works similar to the “updatedb” and “locate” commands on Linux.


  • Find files/folders on all your drives
  • Indexes your computer for fast searching; stores directory structures and file information in databases for quick access
  • Low memory footprint
  • Is portable


  • Has no installer version, for those of you who prefer that
  • Primitive user interface — not much eye candy here


locate2I’ve never ever been a fan of the default searching function in Windows, and I can’t say that any amount of “file indexing software” gets it right either. They’re all way to complex for something that should be very simple. On Linux, if I need to find something I type “locate filename” and I can find it right then and there. It’s very refreshing to see Locate32 taking the database route instead of the “live searching” way of doing things.

A lot of times when I try to find stuff within the default searching program on Windows everything takes way too long and sometimes doesn’t even work right. It is also very similar when I’m trying to use an alternative searching program, it’s like they take the same route. I’m really not a fan of most searching applications.

I think that’s why I like Locate32 so much. Locate32 takes a simple concept and applies a simple solution. There’s not daemon running on your system indexing every single file you use at all times, it just notices the folder structure and creates a database file of it for later use. Any time you decide to search for a file, it will write all the files it found (in relation to your query).

It’s an extremely simple tool with a software model that I really admire. There’s not frills, there’s not amazing features that “you just have to try”. It’s just a better way of locating files. Simplicity is sometimes lost when someone is trying to solve a problem. Sometimes all you need is something that does what it says. The only issue I have with Locate32 is the ‘Windows 2000’ style user interface, but that’s a bit nit-picky. I think this program could have been updated in styling and yet still be as simple as it is. Locate32 is a really great tool.


If you’re tired of the default file searching feature for Windows, but also don’t like the alternatives on the market, you might want to check out Locate32. It’s the best kind of program — low memory footprint, fast, and to the point.

Price: Free

Version reviewed:

Supported OS: Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7

Download size: 1.3 MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 1/46

Is it portable? Yes

Locate32 homepage

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  • Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Phd

    In addition to those programs already mentioned, I’ve become a fan of Nirsoft’s SearchMyFiles:


    It allows for wildcards and searching within files.

    You can either download it as a single file, or as part of the entire Nirsoft collection using his Nirsoft Launcher mentioned here:


    That launcher is excellent, btw. It also has a tab for the entire Sysinternals suite as well as Piriforms utilities.

  • steve

    I forgot to say that the Search engines I mentioned DO NOT index. Everything does index.

  • steve

    I’ll have to try Everything. For many years, I’ve used Search GT which is very fast and is now free. As far as I know it will not run on anything newer than XP.

    Another possibility is Ultrasearch.
    FileSeek is fast, searches for strings, but may miss some files.
    VX Search Pro may miss 100s of files and cannot order results.
    (Of course, the latter 2 may have been updated and fixed.)

  • AFPhy6


    I have used Everything for years, but there are times I would prefer having a tool such as locate available. Thanks for writing this one up. I’ll try it and use it.

  • sci


    Hi Derrik. It certainly is a neat program. All of a sudden, an embarrassment of riches with desktop search type programs (for me anyway), with support for Everything, and everything. I’ll compare this with Ransack for a while see I like better, thanks for the article!

  • sci

    [@David Roper]

    I was using it during the dry seasons as well and had looked previously and saw no updates. It’s nice they’ve resumed, when I can afford to, I’ll donate $5, it’s worth it.

  • David Roper


    Frank, I guess 2009 to 2013 is what caused me to think It wasn’t being developed still. I was using it during the void area. I SHOULD have checked. Failure on my part, sorry.

    SCI, as far as my remarks about the program looking simple, it’s “what floats your boat”. I should not have come down so hard on the author. My bad.

  • Ashraf

    [@Frank] [@Frank] Wow looks like they resumed development in 2013 after a huge break. They stopped supporting it in 2009 previously.

  • Frank

    [@Ashraf] not been updated in a while? Last update was not even a month ago.

  • Ashraf

    [@Derrik] I don’t know about everyone else but I, for one, and glad you posted about Locate32. Choice and variety is always a positive thing and helps people determine which program they like better. Every program we review doesn’t necessarily have to *the best* — each program has its merits. Thanks, Derrik!

    [@jj] It works on Win8? It hasn’t been updated in a while =O

  • jj

    Yep. “EVERYTHING SEARCH” for me. Been using it for years.
    Using it now on Windows 8 Pro 64 bit.
    Still works great.
    Super fast.

  • I know everyone is suggesting Everything, and while I recognize that it’s a good program, I’d like to point out that the main point I liked locate32, as stated in my review was the

    ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ philosophy. I realize that it might have a bit of upstart on the database, but all and all I really did prefer this over most programs. Even everything due to the fact that I was just never a fan.

  • Ashraf

    [@Peter Milham] [@Frank] [@David Roper] [@sci] [@chucklw] [@jayesstee] Yep, Everything is ranked as #1 in our review on Best Free Desktop Search program: http://dottech.org/84686/windows-best-free-desktop-search-program/

  • jayesstee

    I also have used ‘Everything’ for years. Now paired with ‘Agent Ransack’ for searches within files, slow but thorough.

  • Frank

    How about you had a look at their web page (http://www.voidtools.com/Changes.txt)?

    [@David Roper]
    How about you had a look at their web page (http://www.voidtools.com/Changes.txt)?!
    How can one talk such BS?!!

  • David Roper


    Nope, I do not think it’s being developed anymore. Just try it.

  • Falco

    You may like Wise Jet Search. Another winner.

  • chucklw

    Another vote for Search Everything by voidtools.
    Have been using it for years.
    Can enter a word, file name, whatever, and it locates them.
    It’s a winner!

  • sci

    Wondering if you guys know if Everything is actively supported by the developer?

  • David Roper

    As Peter said:
    “Everything” by Voidtools has nothing to worry about here. Locate32 made me create a database first (error message) then input a search word, then wait until it filled the DataBase (DB). I got tired of waiting for the DB to read everything, it was slow. Very logical and nicely laid out, but looks like a student’s class project. .

  • Frank

    [@Peter Milham] Exactly, Peter!
    I especially love the ‘search as you type’ feature of Everything. Not as versatile as Locate but in 9x% /way/ better.

  • Peter Milham

    It is also worth looking at “Everything” by Voidtools. This software is extraordinarily fast and searches local folders, dropbox folders, etc.