I want to sort only files by update dates including sub-directories.

I found out ls -lrtR | grep ^-. but it doesn't seem to sort by update dates.

And I need to save this list into a file. Is it possible?

Apr 01 2010  InsideDoosanServiceImpl.class  // in A directory
Apr 08 2010  MainController.class  // in B directory
Apr 07 2010  RecommendController.class  // in B directory
Apr 01 2010  MainDao.class  // in B directory

I mean the whole list is not ordered by date, but first ordered by folder, and ordered by date.

I want a list first ordered by date including all sub-directories.

2 Answers 2


With ls, -R will recurse directories and -t will sort by modification. However, it traverses directories recursively and applies -t to each directory. It doesn't accumulate all files from all directories and then sort. (As far as I understand, the latter is what you want)

With gnu find(1) you can specify the format of output to include the number of seconds since epoch and the filename, then you can pipe this to sort(1).

find . -type f -printf "%T@ %f\n" | sort -n > out.txt
  • Yea GNU find does help. But OP works on AIX machines so GNU find wasn't available to him. Jan 18, 2012 at 7:52
  • It's too bad ls can't be made to accumulate files before sorting. ls is so fast compared to find. Jan 27, 2016 at 21:53
  • ls and find reads the same data, so I can't imagine any reason ls should be considerably faster than find. On my system find is 5 times faster (searching through roughly half a million files) Jan 27, 2016 at 22:01
  • 11
    You might want a full date/time and not only the file name but also the path in the output, in that case, modify the formatting string: find . -type f -printf "%T@ %Tc %p\n" | sort -n > out.txt yielding output entries like 1427913836.2330520210 wed 1 apr 2015 20:43:56 ./subdir/file.txt.
    – Carl
    Feb 3, 2016 at 23:08
  • Great. That really helped me out. I've been looking for a way to sort into subdirectories for ages! Apr 9, 2018 at 1:14

I am not sure what exactly do you mean by update dates, but you are using -r option which according to man does this -

-r Reverse the order of the sort to get reverse lexicographical order or the oldest entries first (or largest files last, if combined with sort by size

I think this should be good enough for you if you need files sorted by time.

ls -lRt

If you don't need all the other stuff listed by ls then you can use -

ls -1Rt

To capture the result in a file, you can use the redirection operator > and give a file name. So you can do something like this -

ls -lRt > sortedfile.list


find . -type f -exec ls -lt {} +

This will sort files so that the newest files are listed first. To reverse the sort order, showing newest files at the end, use the following command:

find . -type f -exec ls -lrt {} +
  • I mean the last time a file was modified :)
    – Deckard
    Jan 18, 2012 at 6:35
  • Sort result is ordered by folder and date. I want to sort by date and folder.. is it possible?
    – Deckard
    Jan 18, 2012 at 6:59
  • Sorry, can you please show me some output? I didn't quite follow the sorting of folder if you used ls -lrt. Jan 18, 2012 at 7:11
  • //Jaypal Singh, I updated my output to my quiestion ↑ :). I really hope you understand it and sorry for my bad English.
    – Deckard
    Jan 18, 2012 at 7:25
  • 2
    This fails if the file list is sufficiently long to force xargs to make multiple calls to ls, because then the files are only properly sorted within each ls invocation but lack a coherent global order in the output. Mar 4, 2016 at 3:56

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