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How do I do a ls and then sort the results by date created?

Is there a command in Linux which displays when the file was created ? I see that ls -l gives the last modified time, but can I get the created time/date?

  • 5
    Even while "OT" as this is asking for a tool to display this information, I think it's a valuable thing for programmers to know when dealing with more UNIX-y filesystems.
    – pst
    Nov 11 '11 at 23:20
  • 4
    The command is sudo debugfs -R 'stat /path/to/file' /dev/sdaX (replace sdaX with the device name of the filesystem on which the file resides). The creation time is the value of crtime. You can add | grep .[^ca]time to list just mtime (the modification time) and crtime (the creation time).
    – The Quark
    Jun 4 '19 at 11:54

The stat command may output this - (dash). I guess it depends on the filesystem you are using. stat calls it the "Birth time". On my ext4 fs it is empty, though.

%w Time of file birth, human-readable; - if unknown

%W Time of file birth, seconds since Epoch; 0 if unknown

stat foo.txt
  File: `foo.txt'
  Size: 239             Blocks: 8          IO Block: 4096   regular file
Device: 900h/2304d      Inode: 121037111   Links: 1
Access: (0644/-rw-r--r--)  Uid: ( 1000/  adrian)   Gid: (  100/   users)
Access: 2011-10-26 13:57:15.000000000 -0600
Modify: 2011-10-26 13:57:15.000000000 -0600
Change: 2011-10-26 13:57:15.000000000 -0600
 Birth: -
  • 2
    What if we do not have the stat command installed and I cannot add the stat command to this environment? bash: stat: command not found May 20 '14 at 16:19
  • 21
    While you mention %w you don't say how to use it. I'd suggest modifying this answer to show an example command to get the creation date if it's not included by default. For example "stat -c %w file"
    – dsollen
    Jul 25 '17 at 15:43
  • 1
    I'm sorry but is simply not the right answer. I'm looking at a file that I created days ago and it's showing me the birth time was some hours ago. Jul 24 '19 at 14:53
  • 1
    Google tells me "The standard ext4 Linux file system also allocates space for a file-creation timestamp in its internal file system structures, but this hasn’t been implemented yet. Sometimes, this timestamp is populated, but you can’t depend on the values in it."
    – Tgr
    Jun 15 '20 at 13:47
  • 1
    I feel like windows has the strongest point in this case.
    – MaXi32
    Jul 17 at 7:08

Linux offers three timestamps for files: time of last access of contents (atime), time of last modification of contents (mtime), and time of last modification of the inode (metadata, ctime). So, no, you cannot. The directory's mtime corresponds to the last file creation or deletion that happened, though.

  • 39
    The file creation time is actually stored in Ext4, but not directly accessible. See unix.stackexchange.com/a/50184/8250
    – Lekensteyn
    Feb 16 '13 at 10:02
  • 9
    There's a natural confusion between Linux OS, and the various filesystems that can be used with Linux. You can't just make general statements about Linux in regard to things specific to the filesystems.
    – LarsH
    Dec 18 '15 at 15:57
  • would it be correct to say that mtime >= creation time?
    – CervEd
    Apr 17 at 20:03
  • @CervEd in general: no, if file was copied from another volume it was "created" (birthed in *nux) on this volume after the last time it was modified (it was last modified before the copy). But when you control the files (and you know you didn't copy them from another volume, like tmp) then yes.
    – yzorg
  • @yzorg I think I understand your point but I'm not sure how volumes matter. Any copy of a file, even with cp -a will create a new inode, which will have its ctime the time the inode is created, but the same mtime (which was in the past).
    – CervEd
    14 hours ago

No, there is no such a command. In Unix creation time is not stored (only: access, modification and change).