8 Practical Examples of Linux “Touch” Command

In Linux, every single file is associated with timestamps, and every file stores the information of last access time, last modification time, and last change time. So, whenever we create a new file, and access or modify an existing file, the timestamps of that file are automatically updated.

Linux Touch Command
Linux Touch Command Examples

In this article, we will cover some useful practical examples of Linux touch commands. The touch command is a standard program for Unix/Linux operating systems, that is used to create, change and modify timestamps of a file.

Before heading up for touch command examples, please check out the following options.

Touch Command Options

  • -a, change the access time only
  • -c, if the file does not exist, do not create it
  • -d, update the access and modification times
  • -m, change the modification time only
  • -r, use the access and modification times of the file
  • -t, creates a file using a specified time

1. How to Create an Empty File

The following touch command creates an empty (zero-byte) new file called sheena.

# touch sheena

2. How to Create Multiple Files

By using the touch command, you can also create more than one single file. For example, the following command will create 3 files named, sheena, meena, and leena.

# touch sheena meena leena

3. How to Change File Access and Modification Time

To change or update the last access and modification times of a file called leena, use the -a option as follows. The following command sets the current time and date on a file. If the leena file does not exist, it will create a new empty file with the name.

# touch -a leena

The most popular Linux commands such as the find command and ls command use timestamps for listing and finding files.

4. How to Avoid Creating New File

Using the -c option with the touch command avoids creating new files. For example, the following command will not create a file called leena if it does not exists.

# touch -c leena

5. How to Change File Modification Time

If you like to change the only modification time of a file called leena, then use the -m option with the touch command. Please note it will only update the last modification times (not the access times) of the file.

# touch -m leena

6. Explicitly Set the Access and Modification times

You can explicitly set the time using the -c and -t option with the touch command. The format would be as follows.

# touch -c -t YYDDHHMM leena

For example, the following command sets the access and modification date and time to a file leena as 17:30 (17:30 p.m.) December 10 of the current year (2020).

# touch -c -t 12101730 leena

Next verify the access and modification time of file leena, with the ls -l command.

# ls -l

total 2
-rw-r--r--.  1 root    root   0 Dec 10 17:30 leena

7. How to Use the time stamp of another File

The following touch command with the -r option, will update the time-stamp of file meena with the time-stamp of leena file. So, both the file holds the same time stamp.

# touch -r leena meena

8. Create a File using a specified time

If you would like to create a file with a specified time other than the current time, then the format should be.

# touch -t YYMMDDHHMM.SS tecmint

For example, the below command touch command with -t option will give the tecmint file a time stamp of 18:30:55 p.m. on December 10, 2020.

# touch -t 202012101830.55 tecmint

We’ve almost covered all the options available in the touch command for more options use “man touch“. If we’ve still missed any options and you would like to include them in this list, please update us via the comment box.

Ravi Saive
I am an experienced GNU/Linux expert and a full-stack software developer with over a decade in the field of Linux and Open Source technologies

Each tutorial at TecMint is created by a team of experienced Linux system administrators so that it meets our high-quality standards.

Join the TecMint Weekly Newsletter (More Than 156,129 Linux Enthusiasts Have Subscribed)
Was this article helpful? Please add a comment or buy me a coffee to show your appreciation.

25 thoughts on “8 Practical Examples of Linux “Touch” Command”

  1. In example 6, you forgot to include the MM portion of the timestamp.


    So, 201912311200 would be 12:00 on 12/31/2019, for example.

    • @Shilpa,

      You can create 100 text files using touch command as shown.

      # touch shilpa{1..100}.txt

      The above command will create files in following order.


Got something to say? Join the discussion.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. We appreciate your decision to leave a comment and value your contribution to the discussion. It's important to note that we moderate all comments in accordance with our comment policy to ensure a respectful and constructive conversation.

Rest assured that your email address will remain private and will not be published or shared with anyone. We prioritize the privacy and security of our users.