touch (1)

Quick Reference

Change a file access and modification times (atime, mtime).

  • Create a new empty file(s) or change the times for existing file(s) to current time:

touch {{filename}}

  • Set the times on a file to a specific date and time:

touch -t {{YYYYMMDDHHMM.SS}} {{filename}}

  • Use the times from a file to set the times on a second file:

touch -r {{filename}} {{filename2}}


touch - change file timestamps


touch [ OPTION]... FILE...


Update the access and modification times of each FILE to the current time.
A FILE argument that does not exist is created empty, unless -c or -h is supplied.
A FILE argument string of - is handled specially and causes touch to change the times of the file associated with standard output.
Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
change only the access time
-c, --no-create
do not create any files
-d, --date=STRING
parse STRING and use it instead of current time
-h, --no-dereference
affect each symbolic link instead of any referenced file (useful only on systems that can change the timestamps of a symlink)
change only the modification time
-r, --reference=FILE
use this file's times instead of current time
use [[CC]YY]MMDDhhmm[.ss] instead of current time
change the specified time: WORD is access, atime, or use: equivalent to -a WORD is modify or mtime: equivalent to -m
display this help and exit
output version information and exit
Note that the -d and -t options accept different time-date formats.


The --date=STRING is a mostly free format human readable date string such as "Sun, 29 Feb 2004 16:21:42 -0800" or "2004-02-29 16:21:42" or even "next Thursday". A date string may contain items indicating calendar date, time of day, time zone, day of week, relative time, relative date, and numbers. An empty string indicates the beginning of the day. The date string format is more complex than is easily documented here but is fully described in the info documentation.


Written by Paul Rubin, Arnold Robbins, Jim Kingdon, David MacKenzie, and Randy Smith.


GNU coreutils online help: <>
Report touch translation bugs to <>


Full documentation at: <>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) touch invocation'


GNU coreutils 8.29.13-0a854
Source updated
December 2, 2018
Page created
February 9, 2018
Page generated
December 2, 2018