touch command tutorial in linux/unix with examples and use cases

Linux touch command – change file timestamps

Linux touch command is used to modify the time attributes of a file or directory, including access time and modification time. If the file does not exist, the system will create a new file.


 touch [OPTION]... FILE...


  • -a
        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
  • -f
       ignored, it is reserved for compatibility with other unix systems
  • -h, –no-dereference
    affect each symbolic link instead of any referenced file (useful only on systems that can change the timestamps of a symlink)
  • -m
       change only the modification time
  • -r, –reference=FILE
    use this file’s times instead of current time
  • -t STAMP
    use [[CC]YY]MMDDhhmm[.ss] instead of current time
  • –time=WORD
    change the specified time: WORD is access, atime, or use: equivalent to -a WORD is modify or mtime: equivalent to -m

Examples & Use Cases

Update file access and modification times

In the following example, we will update the access and modification time of the test.log file to the current time. Of course, the test.log file is an existing file, otherwise a new file named test.log will be created.

 ➜  touch test.log

Create multiple empty files at the same time

In the following example, we will use the touch command to create multiple empty files at the same time. Separate multiple file names with spaces.

 ➜  ~ touch a.log b.log c.log

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