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Anyone know a way to immediately show the seconds of a file's date modified property in the GUI? So if you create a file, any file in any directory, right-click and choose Properties, the date modified (if it's recent) will say something like "dd/mm/yyy hh:mm, one minute ago" - reminder this is in Windows 7. Windows XP did it normally. Then they changed something.

If you wait a while, eventually you'll see the seconds, I'm not sure how long a while is, but this is incredibly annoying if you want to troubleshoot something that relies on the seconds of timestamps... is there a setting? registry key I can change perhaps?

I'm literally using Chrome, pasting in the path of the directory to be able to see the seconds quickly (as a workaround) but would be nice to be able to use Win7.

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"Then they changed something." i sense another case of 'user anxiety' :) – Molly7244 Jan 4 '10 at 21:25
This is yet another example of Microsoft’s The Great Dumbing-Down of Windows. Instead of pushing computer novices (what’s left of them) to learn computers and provide more advanced users with the power they desire, they keep simplifying everything for the lowest-common-denominator-celebutant-brained user and aggravating the rest of us by not even providing a power-user mode. :-| – Synetech Sep 4 '12 at 17:30
@Molly, What is user anxiety? Is there even such a term? – Pacerier Jun 8 at 12:16

8 Answers 8

up vote 36 down vote accepted

I found a solution at

Go to 'Control Panel' → 'Region and Language' → 'Additional Settings' → Date tab.

Remove the string dddd (e.g. change it to ddd) click 'Apply' and it should work fine.


'Rightclick file properties' uses the value "Long Date" + empty_space + "Long Time". Long date is 'dddd, d MMMM yyyy' by default, and 'Long Time' is h:mm:ss tt. However, it looks like as long as you have the string dddd in 'Long Date', it may sometimes ignore your 'Long Time' settings, overriding it with "x minutes ago".

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Nice find! Inconvenient, but at least it’s something. I just figure that this is a bug as opposed to a feature and may be “fixed” in the future. – Synetech Sep 4 '12 at 17:27
Thank you, was just searching for a solution to this issue and you nailed it. – Mephane Mar 15 '13 at 7:37
However, this only works if we right click the file and select properties. This still doesn't fix the problem that Windows Explorer is not showing the Long Time but the Short Time. – Pacerier Jun 8 at 13:12

The reason you don't see seconds, is that it was a usability decision to remove them (99% of users don't care about the second a file was last modified).

To accomplish this, the shell team is calling GetTimeFormatEx, using the flag asking for it to remove seconds:

GetTimeFormatEx(..., TIME_NOSECONDS, ...);

which returns the Short time format::

alt text

with any seconds (ss)1 stripped out.

It doesn't solve your problem, but it does explain it.

1Even though the default en-US locale does not specify ss in the Short time format; TIME_NOSECONDS will remove any ss even if there was. Nor would i obey that command even if you were.

Edit: If you want to see the time a file was modified (down to the second), then use the Windows GUI. It shows you the time a file was modified (down to the second):

enter image description here

If you don't want to use the Windows GUI to see the time a file was modified (down to the second), then don't use it.

Edit 3/26/2015: The Windows UI will always show the modified time down to the second - even if the file has been modified very recently:

enter image description here

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Unfortunately this is correct. Even adding ss to it does not make the seconds show in Explorer, the command-line, the tray-clock, etc. It’s as though they said, Hey, we made it easy for you to customize things the way you like, but only so long as they conform to the way we like. >:-( – Synetech Sep 4 '12 at 17:03
@Ian, "99% of users don't care about resolution up to seconds"? Where did you get that statistics from? This thread already has 24k views. – Pacerier Nov 22 '14 at 15:36
Microsoft made it (very) slightly better for users who don't care about seconds, but much worse for users who care. I'm glad there is a solution (the dddd => ddd trick) – netvope Mar 5 at 8:37
The windows GUI does NOT always show time to the second. If the modified date is very recent, it will show, for example, "Today, March 26, 2015, 10 minutes ago". – Ross Presser Mar 26 at 14:08
@RossPresser, I second that. You must remove dddd as stated by the post above. If you do not: The dates will not show the "x minutes ago" if x is 0, But once x is no longer 0, they show it: Tested on Win 8.1 NTFS. – Pacerier Jun 8 at 13:29

I've been looking at the same problem and as far as I can tell, no there isn't a way.

However, I've been using a workaround that has satisified what I needed it for so hopefully it will help you. The following command, when run from a command line in the directory in question, will print out the file names and the modified date down to seconds:

forfiles /c "cmd /c echo @file @ftime"

I hope that might be of some use to people.

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You can view the file creation/modification time quickly in PowerShell:

PS C:\Users\mskfisher> $file = C:\windows\notepad.exe
PS C:\Users\mskfisher> $file = Get-Item C:\windows\notepad.exe
PS C:\Users\mskfisher> $file.CreationTime

Monday, July 13, 2009 6:56:36 PM

PS C:\Users\mskfisher> $file.LastAccessTime

Monday, July 13, 2009 6:56:36 PM

PS C:\Users\mskfisher> $file.LastWriteTime

Monday, July 13, 2009 8:39:25 PM

Inspired by a TechNet blog post using PowerShell for some other crazy tricks.

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Thanks for the tip. It’s a shame that we have to go to such lengths for something so simple. Even the command-prompt refuses to show it. :-| – Synetech Sep 4 '12 at 17:04

According to Microsoft Answers:

Unfortunately we don’t know why this was removed; it’s on the developers’ side of things and out of our realm of “in-the-know”.

As you specified Chrome (and Firefox) will display seconds.

I just loaded XP pro in vmware, and saw the default for XP is sans seconds. Then I checked GNU ls on both Linux and Cygwin, no seconds displayed (by default). Granted you can do ls -l --time-style=full-iso to get the granularity you need. I guess I never really thought of needing that level of detail.

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So the developers are unilaterally making UI-design decisions? This is exactly the sort of thing that gives a company a bad name. – Synetech Sep 4 '12 at 17:05

fileTweak is a program that adds a tab in Explorer properties. It is mainly used to change the date/time, but it will display seconds. Unfortunately it isn't free.

That said, I thought there was a free add-in that basically did the same thing.

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If you want a free Windows Explorer add-on to display created, modified, access times with seconds, try stexbar. It adds a tab to a file's properties that allows changing the created, modified, access times and it displays the current times with seconds.

See here for more information.

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You can change the default "Short time format" by going to:

Region & Language -> Additional Settings -> Time Tab -> Short time

Simply set this value to: h:mm:ss tt and you'll have seconds shown on file properties now.

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Wrong. Have you not read Ian's answer above? The file properties is affected by the Long Time not the Short Time. And as for winexplorer, even if you set the Short Time to h:mm:ss tt, it would still ignore the seconds because the flag is used to remove the seconds: GetTimeFormatEx(..., TIME_NOSECONDS, ...); – Pacerier Jun 8 at 13:09

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