8 Practical Examples of Linux “Touch” Command


The Linux command line offers a multitude of powerful utilities that allow users to interact with their operating system efficiently. One such versatile command is “touch,” which might seem simple at first glance but has a wide range of practical applications. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the “touch” command in Linux, breaking down its uses into simple terms and providing you with eight practical examples to help you become proficient in its usage.

1. What is the Linux “Touch” Command?

The “touch” command in Linux may appear deceptively simple, but its functionality goes beyond just creating empty files. Essentially, “touch” is used to manipulate file timestamps, specifically the access and modification times associated with files. Timestamps are crucial for tracking when a file was last accessed or modified, which can be essential for various tasks, including backup procedures, version control, and file synchronization.

2. Basic Syntax of the “Touch” Command

Before diving into practical examples, let’s understand the basic syntax of the “touch” command:

touch [options] [file(s)]
  • [options]: These are optional parameters that modify the behavior of the “touch” command.
  • [file(s)]: These are the file(s) on which you want to perform timestamp operations. You can specify one or more files.

Now, let’s explore eight practical examples to illustrate the versatility of the “touch” command.

3. Creating a New Empty File

The most basic use of the “touch” command is to create a new empty file. Suppose you want to create a file named “example.txt.” You can achieve this by simply running:

touch example.txt

This command will create an empty file named “example.txt” in your current directory.

4. Updating the Access and Modification Times

The primary purpose of the “touch” command is to update the access and modification timestamps of a file to the current date and time. This can be done without altering the file’s content. For instance, to update the timestamps of “example.txt” without changing its content, use:

touch example.txt

This command will update both the access and modification times of the file to the current date and time.

5. Changing Timestamps of Specific Files

You can use “touch” to change the timestamps of specific files to a specific date and time. Suppose you want to set the modification time of “example.txt” to January 15, 2023, at 2:30 PM. You can accomplish this with the following command:

touch -d "2023-01-15 14:30:00" example.txt

This command will change the modification time of “example.txt” to the specified date and time.

6. Creating Multiple Files at Once

“Touch” allows you to create multiple files simultaneously. Let’s say you want to create three new files: “file1.txt,” “file2.txt,” and “file3.txt.” You can do this in one command:

touch file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt

This command will create all three empty files in your current directory.

7. Using “Touch” to Change Timestamps to a Specific Date and Time

The “touch” command also enables you to set file timestamps to a particular date and time. Suppose you have a file named “important.txt,” and you want to set both its access and modification times to December 1, 2022, at 3:45 PM. You can use the following command:

touch -d "2022-12-01 15:45:00" important.txt

This command will change both the access and modification times of “important.txt” to the specified date and time.

8. Updating Timestamps Recursively in Directories

The “touch” command can update timestamps not only for individual files but also for all files within a directory and its subdirectories. Suppose you have a directory called “my_folder,” and you want to update the access and modification times of all files and subdirectories within it. You can use the “find” command in conjunction with “touch” like this:

find my_folder -exec touch {} \;

In this command:

  • find my_folder searches for files and directories within “my_folder.”
  • -exec touch {} \; executes the “touch” command on each found file and directory, updating their timestamps.

This command will recursively update the timestamps of all files and directories within “my_folder.”

9. Combining “Touch” with Other Commands

The power of the “

touch” command lies in its ability to be combined with other commands and scripting to perform more complex tasks. For example, you can create a script that uses “touch” to generate a series of files with timestamps representing a specific timeline, which can be useful for testing or simulating various scenarios.

Here’s a simplified example of creating files representing the days of a week:


# Define the days of the week
days=("Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday" "Sunday")

# Loop through the days and create files with corresponding names
for day in "${days[@]}"; do
  touch -d "next $day" "${day}_file.txt"

This script utilizes the “touch” command to create files with names like “Monday_file.txt” and sets their timestamps to the corresponding days of the week.


In conclusion, the Linux “touch” command may seem straightforward, but its utility extends beyond mere file creation. It provides you with the ability to manage and manipulate file timestamps, making it an invaluable tool for a variety of tasks.

By understanding the basics of the “touch” command and exploring these practical examples, you’ve gained valuable insights into its capabilities. You can now create files, update timestamps, change timestamps to specific dates and times, and even apply these operations recursively to directories and subdirectories.

The “touch” command’s simplicity and versatility make it an essential tool for both new and experienced Linux users. Whether you’re managing files, scripting, or testing scenarios, “touch” empowers you to control timestamps with ease.

As you continue your Linux journey, keep experimenting with the “touch” command and explore how it can enhance your productivity and streamline your file management tasks. Happy “touch”-ing!

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