By executing this command,

❯ fc -l -1 | awk 'END{print $1}'

I can see that I have 8845 commands in my history file. And I'm using , so my history file looks like this:

❯ head $HISTFILE                    
: 1575981231:0;exit 
: 1575981278:0;git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k.git $ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/powerlevel10k
: 1575981423:0;clear
: 1575981457:0;exit 
: 1575981463:0;sudo vim ~/.zshrc
: 1575981490:0;source $_
: 1575981540:0;exit 
: 1575981684:0;git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/yay.git
: 1575981688:0;cd yay
: 1575981692:0;makepkg -si

So I can find my first command, like this:

❯ head -n 1 $HISTFILE
: 1575981231:0;exit 

I understand that this time is Unix Time. I want to find out how much time has passed since I entered that command into my terminal, in a readable format like this: 2 days, 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 54 seconds

How can I do that?

1 Answer 1


First, we need to find the Unix time of the first command, then we can subtracts that time from the current time and convert it to a human-readable format.

❯ awk -F: 'NR==1{print $2}' ~/.zsh_history | tr -d ' ' 

This command takes the first line of ~/.zsh_history file and separates it by : and then prints its second field, which is the time we needed. We also trim extra spaces from the output of awk by piping it to tr -d ' '. So now we have the time of the first command. Now we need the current time, in Unix. That can be simply done via this command:

❯ date +'%s'                               

All that is left to do is to subtract the first time from the current time and convert it. Here's a bash script to do just that:

# tsfc - time since first command
function display_time {
    local T="$1"
    local D="$((T/60/60/24))"
    local H="$((T/60/60%24))"
    local M="$((T/60%60))"
    local S="$((T%60))"

    (( $D > 0 )) && printf '%d days, ' $D
    (( $H > 0)) && printf '%d hours, ' $H
    (( $M > 0)) && printf '%d minutes, ' $M
    (( $D > 0 || $H > 0 || $M > 0)) && printf 'and '
    printf '%d seconds\n' $S

first="$(awk -F: 'NR==1{print $2}' ~/.zsh_history | tr -d ' ')"
now="$(date +'%s')"
difference=$((now - first))

display_time $difference

The function in this script is taken from Stéphane Gimenez's answer on Unix.StackExchange, which displays the time we give it (in seconds) in a human-readable format.

Now you can write that script in a file, make it executable, copy it into /usr/bin and everytime you run it, you can see the time that has passed since the first command you executed in zsh.

tsfc howto

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