What do you use when you want to update the date-modified field of a file on Windows?

  1. commands accessible via C++, .NET, C#, or something native to Windows (Vista preferably)
  2. tools/applications preferably free, and if possible open source as well

Edit: there is already a page for applications as pointed out by CheapScotsman here.

If anyone knows how I can do this via C++, C#, WSH or something similar, well and good, else I would think everything else is covered in the linked question.


32 Answers 32


If you want to touch the date stamp of a file using windows, use the following command at the command prompt:

copy /b filename.ext +,,

(where filename.ext is your file's name). The +,, is a special flag to copy telling it to simply update the date/time on the file:

* Changing the time and date of a file

If you want to assign the current time and date to a file without modifying the file, use the following syntax:

copy /b Source+,,

The commas indicate the omission of the Destination parameter.

Edit based on comments by Lumi and Justin: put this in a batch file, eg. touch.cmd

@COPY /B %1+,, %1

This works even if the file is not in the current directory (tested on Windows 7).

  • 17
    type touch.bat is @echo off and next line copy /b %1 +,, - put it into C:\bin or what have you for your own scripts, and then you can use it like touch myfile.txt.
    – Lumi
    Jun 13, 2011 at 13:37
  • 22
    In Win7 this won't work if you are not in the folder containing the file. It will create a copy in the current working directory.
    – Jamie
    Jun 27, 2012 at 7:48
  • 6
    @mob Note this was not slow on a large file. I used it on a >1GB file on a network drive and it returned immediately (and worked).
    – Chadwick
    Jan 23, 2013 at 19:51
  • 8
    If you need to do this in a remote folder (UNC path) - you must specify the destination to the copy command as well - copy /b Source+,, Source - where Source includes the full path to the file
    – Justin
    Dec 13, 2013 at 22:37
  • 8

I've used and recommend unxutils which are native Win32 ports of lots of common Unix utilities. There is a touch command in there.

  • 7
    As almost every unix-to-windows port ever, this fails to work with unicode characters in the filenames outside of the encoding set as the default for non-unicode programs. Test filename that will trip up every such tool: "test тест τεστ.txt"
    – RomanSt
    Apr 29, 2014 at 3:06
  • gnuwin32 has it. but indeed, gnuwin32's also fails for unicode characters.
    – barlop
    Jan 23, 2016 at 4:37
  • 1
    Update from 2017 In Windows 10 we can use the Linux subsystem for windows, which installs bash. No need for cygwin, MinGW, unxutils or any other partial unix to windows ports. docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install-win10
    – Davos
    Mar 26, 2018 at 10:39
  • @Davos have you tried that on any file other than your (usually unprivileged) user context? Because technically the userland side of LXSS is running as unprivileged user. Aug 21, 2019 at 10:22
  • 1
    These days it's literally easier to install the code-signed package Git for Windows and use the touch from there, as in any case you can use it in any (NT) user context, whereas your suggestion limits you entirely to files and folders owned by the user starting the WSP app (or at least those only accessible with the appropriate ACEs set to modify timestamps). The above port should also work for the same reason. Your method with WSL will only work inside the constraints of the WSL sandbox ... Aug 21, 2019 at 12:23

If all you want is to change the file's last modified date (which was my case):

C:\> powershell  (ls your-file-name-here).LastWriteTime = Get-Date
  • 13
    PowerShell FTW. I mean, seriously, unix is cool but PS is cooler.
    – matt
    Sep 9, 2011 at 14:35
  • 16
    This will work only on one file. For multiple files: ls * | ForEach-Object {$_.LastWriteTime = Get-Date} Oct 2, 2012 at 4:52
  • 4
    If you want to do it recursively, this works pretty well: gci -recu -inc "." | % { $_.LastWriteTime = Get-Date } Jan 15, 2013 at 1:43
  • 8
    @BrainSlugs83: use backticks ` for code: gci -recu -inc "*.*" | % { $_.LastWriteTime = Get-Date } Jun 29, 2013 at 0:44
  • 6
    Unix touch is great for it's simplicity. Apr 27, 2016 at 4:48
type nul >>file & copy file +,,
  • Creates file if it does not exist.
  • Leaves file contents alone.
  • Just uses cmd built-ins.
  • Both last-access and creation times updated.


Gah! This doesn't work on read-only files, whereas touch does. I suggest:

if not exist "%~1" type nul >>"%~1"& goto :eof
set _ATTRIBUTES=%~a1
if "%~a1"=="%_ATTRIBUTES:r=%" (copy "%~1"+,,) else attrib -r "%~1" & copy "%~1"+,, & attrib +r "%~1"
  • It's a pity that copy cannot ignore the +r attribute the way xcopy does. Or, it's a pity that xcopy doesn't support the weird filename +,, syntax.
    – Abel
    May 6, 2012 at 20:05
  • Unfortunately this does not work (at least not in Windows 7). It seems that the command interpreter does not update the timestamp of the destination of a redirection if the file is not actually modified (i.e., there is not data to redirect).
    – Synetech
    Sep 15, 2015 at 0:57
  • The type nul ... has an issue with the creation file time on NTFS (Windows 8.1): if the file were erased before, then it sets the erased file time, instead of a new file time.
    – Andry
    Mar 25 at 1:26
  • The copy \\?\... variant does not support long paths, when type nul >> \\?\... does, but only for a new file.
    – Andry
    Mar 25 at 1:42


Here is Technet's explanation of the mysterious '+' and commas:

copy /b Source+,,

The commas indicate the omission of the Destination parameter.

The copy command supports merging multiple files into a single destination file. Since a blank destination cannot be specified using a space character at the command prompt, two commas can be used to denote that.

And this is Technet's copy command reference: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb490886.aspx

  • 17
    Now that's just messed up syntax. Seriously, what were they thinking? Also note the same documentation says "Destination: Required."... I'm amazed.
    – sth
    Nov 25, 2009 at 13:22
  • 1
    This doesn't seem to even work in Vista... I wonder if they came to their senses? Dec 8, 2009 at 20:53
  • 1
    Works in Windows 7
    – Imran
    Dec 9, 2010 at 5:37
  • 5
    It worked for me even without commas: copy file.ext+ So the documentation is as far from actual behaviour as the behaviour is from any reasonable expectations.
    – Abgan
    Jul 17, 2011 at 11:24
  • 3
    It worked in Windows Server 2008 but only if you are in the folder containing the file Dec 12, 2011 at 14:48

If you feel like coding it yourself, .NET offers the File.SetLastAccessTime, File.SetCreationTime and File.SetLastWriteTime methods.


here is a recursive version using powershell... this will change the last modified time for all files and subdirectories, and files within this directory's subdirectories

ps c:myDir> Get-ChildItem . * -recurse | ForEach-Object{$_.LastWriteTime = get-date}
  • 2
    Less verbose but yet using only standard Powershell shorthands: ls * -recurse | % { $_.LastWriteTime = Get-Date }
    – Jonas
    Apr 5, 2017 at 9:51

I tried this to create an empty file in my batch script. You can use this:

ECHO text>file1.txt
  • 3
    This is BY FAR the best quick method.. I just needed to create a .gitignore file, and Windows 7 keeps complaining "must enter a filename" etc etc. echo pie>.gitignore worked a treat - thanks!
    – Alex McMillan
    Mar 7, 2014 at 4:02
  • 7
    @Alex This is unrelated, but that windows error is because the file starts with a period. There's a strange hack to get around that in Windows Explorer: make the file end with a period too. So type .gitignore. and when you press enter Windows removes the trailing period. Crazy, but it works.
    – Brad Cupit
    Apr 23, 2015 at 15:26
  • 1
    I wish that I could give this enough upvotes that it would catch the big players in popularity. Mar 3, 2016 at 16:56
  • 4
    This doesn't create an empty file though, file1.txt has "text" in it. Mar 15, 2017 at 22:06
  • 3
    touch is not only used for creating empty files, and creating empty files is not the usage that the OP is asking about. The question says "What do you use when you want to update the date-modified field of a file?" This answer does not answer that question. Instead, the question this answer answers is: "how do you create a file containing arbitrary text, wiping out existing content if a file of the same name already exists?" That's very much a misleading and possibly dangerous answer to the original question.
    – jez
    Apr 2, 2021 at 15:25

The GnuWin32 project has Windows ports of the Gnu versions of the Unix command line utilities.

It comes as a number of separate packages and you can install just the commands you need with no other dependencies. For touch you would need the CoreUtils package.


Here's a simple regfile I wrote to add right-click "touch" in Windows explorer. It'd be easy to script it, too, since it just calls:

cmd.exe /c copy %1+nul %1 /by
  • And don't forget copy nul some_file to create an empty file (which is what I see touch most often used for).
    – Joey
    Aug 27, 2009 at 6:28
  • Ack! Zip file inaccessible (something about brinkster22.com needing to be the referring site). Jon, can you update this?
    – Dan7119
    Mar 28, 2011 at 14:22
  • Works on Win7. Does not work on WinXP: file time remains the same after executing "copy". Aug 25, 2016 at 19:26

cygwin comes with touch. I know you mentioned that you don't want to install a whole framework, but cygwin is quite lightweight, and can be called from dos command window without the whole unix-like command line turned on.

You can also control what tools to install, so you could simply install the touch.exe file, and leave the rest of the framework.

  • 3
    To your point here, all you need to install is the touch.exe and cygwin.dll file in a directory to use the tool. There are no other dependancies relative to using cygwin based tools.
    – Tall Jeff
    Sep 9, 2008 at 10:58
  • 2
    when I try this (win7x64) I need 4 cygwin dll's in addition to touch.exe: cygiconv-2.dll cygintl-8.dll cygwin1.dll cyggcc_s-1.dll May 27, 2010 at 20:33

Native win32 ports of many unix commands, including touch.

I've used it before and it works well - no installation, no DLLs, etc


Try this one from CodeProject.

  • No need to install.
  • If you want, you can even modify the source.
  • 3
    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. Jun 5, 2014 at 14:32

This content can be saved to a reg file. This will add a right click context menu for all files with the "Touch File" ability (tested on Windows 7). Copy all the following lines to reg file. Run the file and approve the question. Right click on any file (or multiple files) - "Touch File" option is now available.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Touch File]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Touch File\command]
@="cmd /C copy /b \"%1\" +,,"
  • My preferred approach by far
    – Neoheurist
    Jul 2, 2021 at 1:58

You could also install Cygwin which gives you Touch as well as a plethora of other *NIX commands.

  • 2
    can't live on windows without cygwin.
    – jweede
    Sep 10, 2009 at 12:32
  • And cygwin without mintty is pretty lame.
    – Ahe
    Jan 25, 2010 at 14:30
  • Today, I would recommend WSL in a mintty terminal. Dec 11, 2023 at 22:34

There are Windows ports of many Unix utilities. Have a look at unxutils or GnuWin32 projects.


From a similar question on Stack Overflow.

For updating timestamps (ignoring the other functionality of touch), I'd go with:

copy /b filename.ext +,,
  • 1
    This is a repeat of Gish Domains's answer from 2 yrs prior, without the explanation.
    – fixer1234
    Feb 20, 2016 at 0:39

in PowerShell try:

ni fileName.txt

NI is an alias of the New-Item cmdlet.

  • 1
    Welcome to SuperUser. Thanks for posting! Can you add a link to a website that provides more information about the ni command, and perhaps describe more what the command does?
    – hBy2Py
    Jun 17, 2015 at 2:17
  • 1
    The New-Item cmdlet can't be used to update the time stamp of an existing file. Jun 17, 2015 at 2:56
  • While it doesn't update timestamp, it does create a new file, which is what touch does. +1 from me.
    – MikeMurko
    Jun 2, 2017 at 16:59
  • I usually use touch to create files, but occasionally to update timestamps (to force a remake for example)
    – RufusVS
    Jul 29, 2021 at 18:47

How about codeproject "Touch for Windows": http://www.codeproject.com/KB/applications/touch_win.aspx

edit; Same question as here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/51435/windows-version-of-the-unix-touch-command/51439

  • Thanks. I missed that in my search which resulted in loads of touch screen phone related stuff. Probably needs a better tag label I guess.
    – facepalmd
    Jul 21, 2009 at 21:52

from the website:

Funduc Software Touch is a free 'touch' utility that allows you to change the time/date &/or attribute stamps on one or more files. In addition, FS Touch can add/subtract a specified number of seconds from the existing file time. You can specify which file(s) and/or subdirectories to change via 'complex file masks'. The program can be run from interactively or the command line. New to version 7.2 is a command line switch to change file modified time stamp +/- the specified number of seconds.

FS Touch runs on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, & Windows 8.


If you are using git for one or more projects, the mingw based git-bash for Windows has the touch command. I want to thank @greg-hewgill for pointing out to me that 'nix utilities exist for windows, because it was that which put me on the idea to try touch in git-bash.


I wanted the 'touch' feature of cloning / duplicating the file dates from another file, natively, and be usable from a batch file.

So 'drag and drop' video file on to batch file, FFMPEG runs, then 'Date Created' and 'Date Modified' from the input file gets copied to the output file.

This seemed simple at first until you find batch files are terrible at handling unicode file names, in-line PowerShell messes up with file name symbols, and double escaping them is a nightmare.

My solution was make the 'touch' part a seperate PowerShell script which I called 'CLONE-FILE-DATE.ps1' and it contains:


(GI -LiteralPath $TargetPath).CreationTime  = (GI -LiteralPath $SourcePath).CreationTime
(GI -LiteralPath $TargetPath).LastWriteTime = (GI -LiteralPath $SourcePath).LastWriteTime

Then here is example usage within my 'CONVERT.BAT' batch file:

%~dp0\ffmpeg -i "%~1" ACTION "%~1-output.mp4"

CHCP 65001 > nul && PowerShell -ExecutionPolicy ByPass -File "%~dp0\CLONE-FILE-DATE.PS1" "%~1" "%~1-output.mp4"

I think the PowerShell is readable, so will just explain the batch speak:

%~dp0 is the current directory of the batch file.

%~1 is the path of the file dropped onto the batch without quotes.

CHCP 65001 > nul sets characters to UTF-8 and swallows the output.

-ExecutionPolicy ByPass allows you to run PowerShell without needing to modify the global policy, which is there to prevent people accidentally running scripts.


Save the following as touch.bat in your %windir%\system32 folder or add the folder in which it is saved to your PATH environment variable:

@echo off
if %1.==. goto end
if not exist %1 goto end
copy /b %1 +,, > nul
echo %1 touched!

Sample usage:

touch *.cpp
touch somefile.c

Reference: Microsoft KB 69581

  • Excellent! No external stuff, just copy. And of course most of us need it as a batch stript:) Mar 27, 2013 at 22:07

I found a quick way to do it if you have vim installed (not great for big files, will open entire file then close it...)

vim foobar.txt +wq!

The "+" sets argument to run the following commands. "wq!" is "write, quit, force". This will open file, do a save, then close it immediately afterward.

  • Pointlessly complex, bulky and non-portable. -1
    – MD XF
    May 10, 2017 at 17:45
  • @MDXF As is many windows command line workflows.
    – leetbacoon
    Dec 8, 2022 at 20:39

In powershell:

New-Item .\file.txt -ItemType File

I prefer to write touch file.txt like in linux, so I define this in my powershell profile

function New-File($filename)
   New-Item -ItemType File ".\$filename"

Set-Alias -Name touch -Value New-File

Note: you can edit your profile by running this command

notepad $PROFILE


fsutil file createnew new.txt 0

  • 3
    The FSUTIL utility requires that you have administrative privileges. -- and it doesn't behave like touch for existing files. Feb 18, 2012 at 1:39

The five alternatives mentioned above, plus three more not mentioned here, can be found on SuperUser: "Windows Recursive Touch Command"

  • 2
    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. Jun 5, 2014 at 14:32

This is slightly unrelated to the original question, but I find this very useful on Windows due to the GUI.

I'm using the TouchPro utility which provides a GUI (builds into explorer shell):



I appreciate this is an old question, I just discovered touch on my Windows 10 system. I downloaded and installed Git from here (I think) and it looks like touch and various other utilities are in the bin folder.


Well, if you really want to have the touch command available, you can put this in a batch file called touch.bat and stick it in C:\Windows:


Simple enough.

  • This method does NOT update the Modified Time on the following platforms: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows 10
    – Nate
    Sep 27, 2019 at 16:13

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