277

I'm new to Linux. I'm using the command-line. I'm trying to view the last modified date of a file. How do I do that in Linux from the Command Line?

4
  • 42
    ls -l also works...
    – Daniel Beck
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 12:48
  • 1
    Duplicate of superuser.com/questions/612099/…
    – Oldskool
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 13:39
  • 2
    @DanielBeck is the date of ls -l the modified date or the create date? Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 8:47
  • 2
    @BrunoBieri It's the modification date. See man ls. Typical Linux file systems don't even track creation date -- see the accepted answer for the kinds of dates kept track of.
    – Daniel Beck
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 10:52

8 Answers 8

270

As mentioned by @edvinas.me, stat tells you various information about the file including the last modified date.

At first, I was confused with Modify and Change, just to clarify, stat output lists:

  • Access shows the time of last data access (e.g. read).
  • Modify shows the time of last data modification.
  • Change shows the time the file status last changed.

For example:

~ $ touch foo
~ $ stat foo
File: ‘foo’
Size: 0             Blocks: 0          IO Block: 4096   regular empty file
Device: fc01h/64513d    Inode: 410397      Links: 1
Access: (0644/-rw-r--r--)  Uid: (80972/ etomort)   Gid: (18429/  eem_tw)
Access: 2015-09-21 12:06:11.343616258 +0200
Modify: 2015-09-21 12:06:11.343616258 +0200
Change: 2015-09-21 12:06:11.343616258 +0200
Birth: -

~ $ echo "Added bar to foo file" >> foo
~ $ stat foo
File: ‘foo’
Size: 42            Blocks: 8          IO Block: 4096   regular file
Device: fc01h/64513d    Inode: 410654      Links: 1
Access: (0644/-rw-r--r--)  Uid: (80972/ etomort)   Gid: (18429/  eem_tw)
Access: 2015-09-21 12:09:31.298712951 +0200
Modify: 2015-09-21 12:09:31.298712951 +0200
Change: 2015-09-21 12:09:31.302713093 +0200
Birth: -

~ $ chmod 444 foo
~ $ stat foo
File: ‘foo’
Size: 42            Blocks: 8          IO Block: 4096   regular file
Device: fc01h/64513d    Inode: 410654      Links: 1
Access: (0444/-r--r--r--)  Uid: (80972/ etomort)   Gid: (18429/  eem_tw)
Access: 2015-09-21 12:09:31.298712951 +0200
Modify: 2015-09-21 12:09:31.298712951 +0200
Change: 2015-09-21 12:10:16.040310543 +0200
Birth: -
1
  • «At first I was confused with Modify and Change, but it's obvious: Modify shows time of last MODIFICATION, at while Change shows time when lastly CHANGED». Ok, but I'm still confused... Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 3:50
99

Use stat command for that:

$ stat file
3
  • 44
    If you want just the last modified date (in human-readable form), use stat -c '%y' file Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 14:53
  • 1
    In addition to @AdamTaylor, date '+%F %T' -d "@$( stat -c '%Y' "$filepath"; )".
    – Artfaith
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 6:09
  • @ek9 I think it worths modifying your answer to include Adam Taylor's comment.
    – Marinos An
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 17:26
94

Another way that is more flexible is using date -r. From man date:

-r, --reference=FILE
       display the last modification time of FILE

This has the advantage of allowing you to specify the output format, e.g.

$ date -r foo
Thu Aug 31 10:36:28 AEST 2017
$ date -r foo -R
Thu, 31 Aug 2017 10:36:28 +1000
$ date -r foo -u
Thu Aug 31 00:36:28 UTC 2017
$ date -r foo +%s
1504139788
2
  • 3
    Yes, very helpful, thanks. Here is a bash function that will rename a file to be prefixed by the modified time: function mvfilestime() { if [ x"${1}" = "x" ] ; then echo "mvfilestime: Missing argument of file to mv" else f=$(date +"%Y-%m-%d-%H-%M" -r ${1})-${1} echo mv ${1} ${f} mv ${1} ${f} fi }
    – Traveler
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 19:39
  • 3
    iso-8601: date -r foo -u +"%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ" (works on Linux and OSX)
    – Gerry
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 13:51
26

ls -l should do the work.

Example:

#> ls -l /home/TEST/
total 16

-rw-r--r--   1 rfmas1   nms          949 Nov 16 12:21 create_nd_lists.py

-rw-r--r--   1 rfmas1   nms            0 Nov 16 12:35 enb_list

-rw-r--r--   1 rfmas1   nms            0 Nov 16 12:35 nb_list

-rw-r--r--   1 rfmas1   nms            0 Nov 16 12:35 nodes_ip.txt

-rw-r--r--   1 rfmas1   nms            0 Nov 16 12:35 rnc_list
0
11

Building off of @Adam Taylor 's comment in @phoops 's answer and @Sparhawk 's answer.

To specifically just get the date (using October 3, 2019 for examples because it was my last birthday)

  • stat -c %y file | cut -d' ' -f1 will give you 2019-10-03
  • date +%F -r file will also give you 2019-10-03
  • date +%D -r file will give you 10/03/19
  • date +%x -r file will probably give either 10/03/2019, or 10/03/19 if you're in the U.S. and either 03/10/2019, or 03/10/19 if you're in the U.K., just to name a couple examples (of course there are more possibilities)

These date format options are, to my understanding, combinations of other format options. Here are some explanations from the man page:

%b locale's abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)
%B locale's full month name (e.g., January)
...
%d day of month (e.g, 01)
%D date; same as %m/%d/%y
%e day of month, space padded; same as %_d
%F full date; same as %Y-%m-%d
...
%m month (01..12)
...
%x locale's date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)
...
%y last two digits of year (00..99)
%Y year
...
By default, date pads numeric fields with zeroes.
The following optional flags may follow `%':

- (hyphen) do not pad the field
_ (underscore) pad with spaces
0 (zero) pad with zeros
^ use upper case if possible

use opposite case if possible

N.B.: These flags don't work on the "combo formats" like %F, %D and %x. They are for the "singular field formats".

Apparently this last flag (#) does not work as I'd expect (e.g., if date +%b gives Oct, date +%#b gives OCT as opposed to oCT) I guess this would be useless, but I'd think a lower case option would be more useful. date +%#pdoes turn date +%p which might give PM or AM into pm or am, respectively. So I guess it's not a 'per-character' case switch but sets the case of all the characters in the string to the opposite case of the majority of the characters? Also date +%P gives pm or am, but neither date +%^P nor date +%#P change its output. My guess for this case is that %P is just an alias for %#p, and it seems that whenever you add more than one flag, the behavior is undefined/unpredictable ( e.g., date +%0-e gives the same as date +%-e: 3 and date +%-0e gives the same as date +%0e: 03, which makes you think that only the flag next to the letter works or that it goes left to right, but both date +%#^p and date +%^#p give pm or am, [depending on the time of course] ) unless there's some hidden order of operations? Sorry for digressing...

Also, if you run the command locale -k LC_TIME | grep ^d_fmt, you can see the combo for the specific locale of your system (e.g., d_fmt="%m/%d/%Y").

And you can make your own combo. For example,

  • date +%^b\ %-e\ %Y -r file will give you OCT 3 2019
5

1) List Files directory with Last Modified Date/Time

To list files and shows the last modified files at top, we will use -lt options with ls command.

$ ls -lt /run
output
total 24
-rw-rw-r--.  1 root utmp 2304 Sep  8 14:58 utmp
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root    4 Sep  8 12:41 dhclient-eth0.pid
drwxr-xr-x.  4 root root  100 Sep  8 03:31 lock
drwxr-xr-x.  3 root root   60 Sep  7 23:11 user
drwxr-xr-x.  7 root root  160 Aug 26 14:59 udev
drwxr-xr-x.  2 root root   60 Aug 21 13:18 tuned

https://linoxide.com/linux-how-to/how-sort-files-date-using-ls-command-linux/

2

If the file is on another webserver, I like httpie (docs).

Installation

pip install httpie --user

Usage

The -h command gives only the header. The pattern is

http -h [url] | grep 'Last-Modified\|Date'

Example:

$ http -h https://martin-thoma.com/author/martin-thoma/ | grep 'Last-Modified\|Date'
Date: Fri, 06 Jan 2017 10:06:43 GMT
Last-Modified: Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:42:34 GMT

The Date is important as this reports the server time, not your local time. Also, not every server sends Last-Modified (e.g. superuser seems not to do it).

1

ls -l shows the file's "modification time" (mtime), the time of last modification of the data in the file.

ls -lc shows file's "change time" (ctime), the time of the last change to the file's status information (name, path, owner, permissions).

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