Linux

How To Find Files Modified In The Last N Days Or Minutes Using find


This article explains how to find all files in a directory that have been changed in the last N minutes or days, or those with a modification date older than N minutes or days, with examples. This is done using the find command.

To find the files that have been changed (with the files data modification time older than) in the last N days from a directory and subdirectories, use:

find /directory/path/ -mtime -N -ls

Where:

  • find is the Unix command line tool for finding files (and more)
  • /directory/path/ is the directory path where to look for files that have been modified. Replace it with the path of the directory where you want to look for files that have been modified in the last N days
  • -mtime -N is used to match files that had their data modified in the last N days. Replace N with a number (integer)
  • -ls lists the resulting files (the files that have been modified in the last N days) in ls -dils format on standard output. You can skip this, but using it you’ll get more information like the file size, permissions, the modification date, etc.

Examples:

  • Find all files modified in the last day (24 hours; between now and a day ago) in a directory and subdirectories:
find /directory/path/ -mtime -1 -ls

-mtime -1 is the same as -mtime 0.

  • Find all files modified in the last 30 days:
find /directory/path/ -mtime -30 -ls

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But what if you need to find the files that have a modification date older than N, for example older than 30 days? In that case you need to use +N instead of -N, like this:

find /directory/path/ -mtime +N -ls

Examples:

  • Find all files with a modification date older than 7 days:
find /directory/path/ -mtime +7 -ls
  • Find all files modified more than 48 hours ago (at least 2 days ago):
find /directory/path/ -mtime +1 -ls
  • Find all files modified between 24 and 48 hours ago (between 1 and 2 days ago):
find /directory/path/ -mtime 1 -ls

So why is 1 one day ago, and +1 older than 2 days / 48 hours ago? That’s because according to the man find, any fractional parts are ignored, so if a file was last modified 1 day and 23 hours ago, -mtime +1 won’t match it, treating it as if the file was last modified 1 day, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds ago; see this explanation on why that’s the case

This being the case, how can you get all files modified at least 1 day ago? Use +0:

find /directory/path/ -mtime +0 -ls

Using minutes instead of days

To find the files that have been modified N minutes ago, or with a modification date older than N, simply replace -mtime with -mmin.

So if you want to find the files that have been changed (with the files data modification time older than) in the last N minutes from a directory and subdirectories, use:

find /directory/path/ -mmin N -ls

Examples:

  • Find all files modified in the last 5 minutes in a directory and subdirectories:
find /directory/path/ -mmin -5 -ls
  • Find all files with a modification date older than 5 minutes:
find /directory/path/ -mmin +5 -ls

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