How To Get / Print Current Date in Unix / Linux Shell Script

How do I get the current date in Unix or Linux shell scripting and store it into a shell variable? How do I print the current date using Unix shell script? How can I display the current time in Linux shell script?

You need to use the following syntax to print current date and time on screen:

date +"%FORMAT"

To store current date and time to a variable, enter:

To print this date either use the printf or echo statement:
echo "$now"
echo "Current date: $now"

OR use the printf command:
printf "%sn" "$now"
printf "Current date and time in Linux %sn" "$now"

Getting the current date and time in Linux shell script

You can format and display date using the following syntax:

date +'FORMAT'
### mm/dd/yyyy ###
date +'%m/%d/%Y'
## Time in 12 hr format ###
date +'%r'
## backup dir format ##
backup_dir=$(date +'%m/%d/%Y')
echo "Backup dir for today: /nas04/backups/${backup_dir}"
Finding the current date and time in Linux or Unix using the date command

A list of date command format codes

FORMAT code Description
%% a literal %
%a locale’s abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun)
%A locale’s full weekday name (e.g., Sunday)
%b locale’s abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)
%B locale’s full month name (e.g., January)
%c locale’s date and time (e.g., Thu Mar 3 23:05:25 2005)
%C century; like %Y, except omit last two digits (e.g., 20)
%d day of month (e.g., 01)
%D date; same as %m/%d/%y
%e day of month, space padded; same as %_d
%F full date; same as %Y-%m-%d
%g last two digits of year of ISO week number (see %G)
%G year of ISO week number (see %V); normally useful only with %V
%h same as %b
%H hour (00..23)
%I hour (01..12)
%j day of year (001..366)
%k hour, space padded ( 0..23); same as %_H
%l hour, space padded ( 1..12); same as %_I
%m month (01..12)
%M minute (00..59)
%n a newline
%N nanoseconds (000000000..999999999)
%p locale’s equivalent of either AM or PM; blank if not known
%P like %p, but lower case
%q quarter of year (1..4)
%r locale’s 12-hour clock time (e.g., 11:11:04 PM)
%R 24-hour hour and minute; same as %H:%M
%s seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
%S second (00..60)
%t a tab
%T time; same as %H:%M:%S
%u day of week (1..7); 1 is Monday
%U week number of year, with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)
%V ISO week number, with Monday as first day of week (01..53)
%w day of week (0..6); 0 is Sunday
%W week number of year, with Monday as first day of week (00..53)
%x locale’s date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)
%X locale’s time representation (e.g., 23:13:48)
%y last two digits of year (00..99)
%Y year
%z +hhmm numeric time zone (e.g., -0400)
%:z +hh:mm numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00)
%::z +hh:mm:ss numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00:00)
%:::z numeric time zone with : to necessary precision (e.g., -04, +05:30)
%Z alphabetic time zone abbreviation (e.g., EDT)

Sample shell script to display the current date and time

printf "Current date and time %sn" "$now"
now="$(date +'%d/%m/%Y')"
printf "Current date in dd/mm/yyyy format %sn" "$now"
echo "Starting backup at $now, please wait..."
# command to backup scripts goes here
# ...


For more info see date command man page by typing the following date command or GNU/date help page here:
man date

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.

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