Harness the Combinatoric Power of Command-Line Tools and Utilities


Find Modified Files

commands files

Published May 17, 2024

In the current directory, you can see the most recently modified files with the ls -ltr command, which sorts the listing with the most recently changed directories and files last.

To search a directory and its children for the most recently-changed files, use the find command and send the results to the sort command:

find ~/Documents -type f -printf "%T@ %T+ %p\n" | sort -n

Here’s how it works:

  • find ~/Documents -type f: This part of the command searches for all files (-type f) within the ~/Documents directory.
  • -printf "%T@ %T+ %p\n": This specifies the output format for each file found:
    • %T@ prints the modification time as a numeric timestamp, which will be what sort uses to sort the results.
    • %T+ prints the modification time in a human-readable format.
    • %p prints the file path.
    • \n ensures that each file’s information is printed on a new line.
  • | sort -n: This pipes the output of the find command to sort, which sorts the lines numerically (-n), based on the timestamp printed by %T@.

The most recent files are at the end of the list.