Is there a way to view processes by the time they were started? top and htop have an option for sorting by how much time a process has been running, but I would like to sort by when the process began (most recent on top).

  • How accurate does this have to be, using ps you can get it in hours/minutes for the current day, but older processes just say what date they started
    – 123
    Apr 28, 2016 at 14:37
  • @123, I am trying to get some information about a process that pops up only very briefly when I press a button in another program. I want to list programs in ps, top, etc by start time so I can catch it. Apr 28, 2016 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


You can use something like this

while sleep 1;do ps -eo start_time,pid,euser,args:100 --sort start_time;done

This will list all processes running in order of start time although it will be latest at the bottom. The loop update every second, if you need a finer time period change the sleep as needed.

If you want the latest at the top you can pipe into tac

while sleep 1;do ps -eo start_time,pid,euser,args:100 --sort start_time | tac ;done

This will reverse the order.

From the comment above though i don't think listing in order of start time is what you really want.If you know the name of the process beforehand then you can use

while sleep 0.1;do ps -eo start_time,pid,euser,args:100 | grep YOURCOMMAND;done

To just check for that single commands start time and output nothing if it is not running.


I am using htop 2.2.0. Please try:

htop --delay=3 --sort-key=STARTTIME

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