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I use `find . | egrep -i foo` to find foo on OS X.

  ~/Downloads$ find . | egrep -i lisp
It works well on an SSD. I also wrote a script called `narrow` which lets you pass in several terms to narrow the results by.

  ~/Downloads$ find . | narrow self pdf
  ./An Efficient Implementation of SELF, a Dynamically-Typed Object-Oriented Language Based on Prototypes.pdf
  ./Optimizing Compiler Technology for SELF, a Dynamically-Typed Object-Oriented Programming Language [].pdf

  ~/Downloads$ find . | narrow racket h$
I know this isn't too helpful of an answer. It isn't responsive to your argument that the GUIs have stagnated. But it's possibly a way to get what you want.

The original poster already said "I normally default to locate or find now...", so presumably he's well aware of find.

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