whereis Man page

WHEREIS(1) User Commands WHEREIS(1)


whereis – locate the binary, source, and manual page files for a com‐


whereis [options] [-BMS directory… -f] name…


whereis locates the binary, source and manual files for the specified
command names. The supplied names are first stripped of leading path‐
name components and any (single) trailing extension of the form .ext
(for example: .c) Prefixes of s. resulting from use of source code
control are also dealt with. whereis then attempts to locate the
desired program in the standard Linux places, and in the places speci‐
fied by $PATH and $MANPATH.

The search restrictions (options -b, -m and -s) are cumulative and
apply to the subsequent name patterns on the command line. Any new
search restriction resets the search mask. For example,

whereis -bm ls tr -m gcc

searches for “ls” and “tr” binaries and man pages, and for “gcc” man
pages only.

The options -B, -M and -S reset search paths for the subsequent name
patterns. For example,

whereis -m ls -M /usr/share/man/man1 -f cal

searches for “ls” man pages in all default paths, but for “cal” in the
/usr/share/man/man1 directory only.


-b Search for binaries.

-m Search for manuals.

-s Search for sources.

-u Only show the command names that have unusual entries. A com‐
mand is said to be unusual if it does not have just one entry of
each explicitly requested type. Thus ‘whereis -m -u *’ asks for
those files in the current directory which have no documentation
file, or more than one.

-B list
Limit the places where whereis searches for binaries, by a
whitespace-separated list of directories.

-M list
Limit the places where whereis searches for manuals and documen‐
tation in Info format, by a whitespace-separated list of direc‐

-S list
Limit the places where whereis searches for sources, by a white‐
space-separated list of directories.

-f Terminates the directory list and signals the start of file‐
names. It must be used when any of the -B, -M, or -S options is

-l Output the list of effective lookup paths that whereis is using.
When none of -B, -M, or -S is specified, the option will output
the hard-coded paths that the command was able to find on the

To find all files in /usr/bin which are not documented in /usr/man/man1
or have no source in /usr/src:

cd /usr/bin
whereis -u -ms -M /usr/man/man1 -S /usr/src -f *

By default whereis tries to find files from hard-coded paths, which are
defined with glob patterns. The command attempts to use the contents
of $PATH and $MANPATH environment variables as default search path.
The easiest way to know what paths are in use is to add the -l listing
option. Effects of the -B, -M, and -S are displayed with -l.

enables debug output.

The whereis command is part of the util-linux package and is available
from Linux Kernel Archive ⟨ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/util-

util-linux October 2014 WHEREIS(1)