I know how to retrieve the last modification date of a single file in a Git repository:

git log -1 --format="%ad" -- path/to/file

Is there a simple and efficient way to do the same for all the files currently present in the repository?

  • It's 2022, ten years after this question was asked. Still no solution to make such simple tasks (in this case akin to ls -l) easier to type and to remember? Yes I know I could save the script in an executable, but that works only until I go on a different machine, which usually is when I need the feature the most!
    – Davide
    Aug 30, 2022 at 11:24

7 Answers 7


A simple answer would be to iterate through each file and display its modification time, i.e.:

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | while read filename; do
  echo "$(git log -1 --format="%ad" -- $filename) $filename"

This will yield output like so:

Fri Dec 23 19:01:01 2011 +0000 Config
Fri Dec 23 19:01:01 2011 +0000 Makefile

Obviously, you can control this since its just a bash script at this point--so feel free to customize to your heart's content!

  • 3
    I was hoping that there was an option to get a combined output in a single run of git log, but your answer is better than the one I had in mind using find. I did not know git-ls-tree, which has the advantage of listing only the files stored in the repository, skipping the .git folder and ignored files. Thanks. Jun 23, 2012 at 8:25
  • No problem, Eric; you are following the same route that I did--i.e., doing a find and ignoring the .git directory! :) There may be some options using the git plumbing commands, but quite frankly, this works pretty well. If you could find some way to get the information on a per file basis all at once, that would work best--but remember, git operates on the state of commits, not the state of individual files.
    – Andrew M.
    Jun 25, 2012 at 16:40
  • 15
    I recommend using the --format="%ai" if you want sortable time stamps instead of human readable dates. May 30, 2014 at 19:45
  • 2
    Since "HEAD" is just a reference, you can use any reference you want, be it a tag, branch, commit hash, etc..
    – Andrew M.
    May 30, 2014 at 23:29
  • 3
    as @ThorSummoner said, use %ai format for date, and then just pipe to sort to sort the results: git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | while read filename; do echo "$(git log -1 --format="%ai" -- $filename) $filename"; done | sort
    – John Hunt
    Aug 18, 2017 at 8:50

This approach also works with filenames that contain spaces:

git ls-files -z | xargs -0 -n1 -I{} -- git log -1 --format="%ai {}" {}

Example output:

2015-11-03 10:51:16 -0500 .gitignore
2016-03-30 11:50:05 -0400 .htaccess
2015-02-18 12:20:26 -0500 .travis.yml
2016-04-29 09:19:24 +0800 2016-01-13-Atlanta.md
2016-04-29 09:29:10 +0800 2016-03-03-Elmherst.md
2016-04-29 09:41:20 +0800 2016-03-03-Milford.md
2016-04-29 08:15:19 +0800 2016-03-06-Clayton.md
2016-04-29 01:20:01 +0800 2016-03-14-Richmond.md
2016-04-29 09:49:06 +0800 3/8/2016-Clayton.md
2015-08-26 16:19:56 -0400 404.htm
2016-03-31 11:54:19 -0400 _algorithms/acls-bradycardia-algorithm.htm
2015-12-23 17:03:51 -0500 _algorithms/acls-pulseless-arrest-algorithm-asystole.htm
2016-04-11 15:00:42 -0400 _algorithms/acls-pulseless-arrest-algorithm-pea.htm
2016-03-31 11:54:19 -0400 _algorithms/acls-secondary-survey.htm
2016-03-31 11:54:19 -0400 _algorithms/acls-suspected-stroke-algorithm.htm
2016-03-31 11:54:19 -0400 _algorithms/acls-tachycardia-algorithm-stable.htm

The output can be sorted by modification timestamp by adding | sort to the end:

git ls-files -z | xargs -0 -n1 -I{} -- git log -1 --format="%ai {}" {} | sort
  • Any way to get this sorted by modification timestamp? Jun 21, 2016 at 18:16
  • 1
    @AmelioVazquez-Reina: Just add ` | sort` to the end of the command.
    – dotancohen
    Oct 18, 2017 at 19:24
  • 6
    This works but takes a loooong time...
    – Guillochon
    Jan 24, 2018 at 15:18

Here's another way:

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD -z | TZ=UTC xargs -0n1 -I_ git --no-pager log -1 --date=iso-local --format="%ad _" -- _

Changes to previously given answers:

  • Correctly handles spaces in filenames.
  • Uses ls-tree instead of ls-files and as such can be used with bare repositories.
  • Prints all times with zero offset (UTC) in ISO 8601 like format. This allows correct sorting also for times near daylight saving changes (or commits from different timezones) by appending | sort to the command.
  • Doesn't require using subshells so the performance should be as good as possible.

Note that this doesn't correctly handle filenames with the % character. See below for a more elaborate command to correctly handle all characters in filenames.

Note that this command is still really slow because Git doesn't really store the information we're looking after. Technically this goes through all the files, filters all changes to any given file from the whole project history, takes the latest commit and prints its author timestamp. As a result, the displayed times match the last commit that changed each file. If the file had a different timestamp on disk at the time the original commit was made, it was not ever stored anywhere in the Git repository and as such it cannot ever be restored without an external data source.

The timestamps that this script emits are just an emulated version matching the commit time, not the real timestamp that the file had because Git doesn't consider file timestamps as data. This is because this part of Git was designed by Linus Torvalds and he strongly believes that the file timestamp on disk should match the time it was modified on disk, not the timestamp that the file had on the disk of somebody else when it was historically modified. Git only stores one timestamp for the commit that was made and another timestamp for the moment that commit was included in the DAG. These may differ in case commit author and the person that applied the commit to version history are two different people as often happens in Linux kernel development. (Also consider the fact that you can commit only selected lines from each file using the index / staging area. There doesn't exist even a concept of "file timestamp" in theory for that case because the committed version doesn't match any file on disk.)

If you want to set filesystem modification times to the last author commit time of each file, you can do something like this to deal with special characters in filenames (add | bash to automatically execute all emitted commands):

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD -z | TZ=UTC xargs -0n1 git --no-pager log -1 --date=iso-local --name-only -z --format="format:%ad" | perl -npe "INIT {\$/ = \"\\0\"} s@^(.*? .*?) .*?\n(.*)\$@\$date=\$1; \$name=\$2; \$name =~ s/'/'\"'\"'/sg; \"TZ=UTC touch -m --date '\$date' '\$name';\n\"@se"

Even though this is much more complex than the command above, the performance of this command should be about equal to the first one because the performance is limited by searching for last modification time of each file instead of actually setting the modification time. Note that this converts times to UTC, uses null-separated files and resets correct timestamp for each file on the filesystem using UTC timezone while setting the time.

If the order of output is not strictly important, you can improve performance of this command by adding -P $(nproc) to xargs flags to scale Git to all CPUs making the command look like ...TZ=UTC xargs -0n1 -P $(nproc) git....

If you prefer committer time instead of author date, use %cd instead of %ad in the above command line.

  • 1
    This is the best answer because it is sortable by date. Sep 12, 2020 at 19:30
  • 1
    +1 for the best 1 line shell script I've seen in a long time! Sep 30, 2020 at 7:01
  • Surprised at the claim that xargs is more efficient than while read. Why is that the case? Aug 12, 2021 at 14:58
  • 3
    Bash "while read" is okay for some cases. For this specific use case xargs may actually have identical performance to while read but xargs allows handling filenames with embedded line feeds correctly. In addition, xargs allows running commands on multiple CPUs concurrently with -P flag. Aug 13, 2021 at 22:12
  • 1
    In most cases one can avoid the -r and just list one directory, which is what one is often interested, and that should run much faster.
    – Davide
    Aug 30, 2022 at 11:20

If you're trying to set the file modification times on a big repository, look at Git Tools. It’s already a package.

sudo apt install git-restore-mtime
cd repo
git restore-mtime

It uses git whatschanged rather than git log, which is much quicker on big repositories.


This is a small tweak of Andrew M.'s answer. (I was unable to comment on his answer.)

Wrap the first $filename in double quotes, in order to support filenames with embedded spaces.

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | while read filename; do
    echo "$(git log -1 --format="%ad" -- "$filename") $filename"

Sample output:

Tue Jun 21 11:38:43 2016 -0600 subdir/this is a filename with spaces.txt

I appreciate that Andrew's solution (based on ls-tree) works with bare repositories! (This isn't true of solutions using ls-files.)

  • You can also skip the echo: git log -1 --format="%ad $filename"
    – Kevin Lyda
    Jun 2, 2017 at 11:02

For those of us using Windows and PowerShell, Andrew M's answer, with the computer-readable tweak:

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | ForEach-Object { "$(git log -1 --format="%ai" -- "$_")`t$_" }

Example output:

2019-05-07 12:00:37 -0500   .editorconfig
2016-07-13 14:03:49 -0500   .gitattributes
2019-05-07 12:00:37 -0500   .gitignore
2018-02-03 22:01:17 -0600   .mailmap
  • 1
    With newer pwsh, you can throw in a -Parallel to the ForEach-Object to make this go a lot faster.
    – Daniel
    Mar 16, 2021 at 19:24
  • Sorry, I missed this comment. Confirmed, but it does mess with the sort order so that it's not alphabetical (in case that matters). Aug 16, 2021 at 20:50

Here is the Fish shell version of Andrew M's answer, for those that use Fish.

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | while read -l filename
    printf '%s %s\n' (git log -1 --format="%ai" -- $filename) $filename

I store this as a Fish function for easy access.

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