Create/Modify a UNIX File with an Arbitrary Timestamp

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The touch command in UNIX creates a file if it does not exist or updates the modification time of an existing file to the current time. An option of the touch command allows the modification timestamp to be set to any arbitrary time.

To change the modification time (the time displayed in a long listing of the file) of a file called testfile to November 18, 2000, 2:30 PM, use the following command:

touch -t 200011181430

This will alter the modification time of an existing testfile or, if not present, will create an empty file with that timestamp.

The format of the timestamp is as follows:
[[CC]YY]MMDDhhmm [.SS]

Date and time elements in square brackets are optional. Thus, the minimum timestamp includes month, day, hour, and minute.


About Quinn McHenry

Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.
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