Find Files By Access, Modification Date / Time Under Linux or UNIX

I do not remember where I saved pdf and text files under Linux. I have downloaded files from the Internet a few months ago. How do I find my pdf or text files?

You need to use the find command. Each file has three time stamps, which record the last time that certain operations were performed on the file:

[a] access (read the file’s contents) – atime

[b] change the status (modify the file or its attributes) – ctime

[c] modify (change the file’s contents) – mtime

You can search for files whose time stamps are within a certain age range, or compare them to other time stamps.

You can use -mtime option. It returns list of file if the file was last accessed N*24 hours ago. For example to find file in last 2 months (60 days) you need to use -mtime +60 option.

  • -mtime +60 means you are looking for a file modified 60 days ago.
  • -mtime -60 means less than 60 days.
  • -mtime 60 If you skip + or – it means exactly 60 days.

So to find text files that were last modified 60 days ago, use
$ find /home/you -iname "*.txt" -mtime -60 -print

Display content of file on screen that were last modified 60 days ago, use
$ find /home/you -iname "*.txt" -mtime -60 -exec cat {} ;

Count total number of files using wc command
$ find /home/you -iname "*.txt" -mtime -60 | wc -l

You can also use access time to find out pdf files. Following command will print the list of all pdf file that were accessed in last 60 days:
$ find /home/you -iname "*.pdf" -atime -60 -type -f

List all mp3s that were accessed exactly 10 days ago:
$ find /home/you -iname "*.mp3" -atime 10 -type -f

There is also an option called -daystart. It measure times from the beginning of today rather than from 24 hours ago. So, to list the all mp3s in your home directory that were accessed yesterday, type the command
$ find /home/you -iname "*.mp3" -daystart -type f -mtime 1


  • -type f – Only search for files and not directories

-daystart option

The -daystart option is used to measure time from the beginning of the current day instead of 24 hours ago. Find out all perl (*.pl) file modified yesterday, enter:

find /nas/projects/mgmt/scripts/perl -mtime 1 -daystart -iname "*.pl"

You can also list perl files that were modified 8-10 days ago, enter:
To list all of the files in your home directory tree that were modified from two to four days ago, type:

find /nas/projects/mgmt/scripts/perl -mtime 8 -mtime -10 -daystart -iname "*.pl"

-newer option

To find files in the /nas/images directory tree that are newer than the file /tmp/foo file, enter:

find /etc -newer /tmp/foo

You can use the touch command to set date timestamp you would like to search for, and then use -newer option as follows

touch --date "2010-01-05" /tmp/foo
# Find files newer than 2010/Jan/05, in /data/images
find /data/images -newer /tmp/foo

Read the man page of find command for more information:
man find

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.