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How do I set the creation time of a file?

How can you create a files on a Mac that have a specific creation date (different from the current one)?

What I have found so far, touch can only alter the modified at time...


I believe you can do it with touch.

touch -t YYYYMMDDhhmm /filehere
  • touch -t normally only changes the modification date. The creation date is only changed if the new modification date would be before it. – Lri Jul 16 '12 at 16:52
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    On 10.7, touch -t appears to work on my test system, even if the mod date is after. I used touch -mt to change the mod time and it works fine. – user25277 Jul 16 '12 at 17:21
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    I meant that touch file.txt; touch -t 199901010000 file.txt would change the creation date, but touch file2.txt; touch -t 209901010000 file2.txt wouldn't. – Lri Jul 16 '12 at 18:05

SetFile can also be used to set the creation date before the modification date or in the future.

-d date    Sets the creation date, where date is a string of the
           form: "mm/dd/[yy]yy [hh:mm:[:ss] [AM | PM]]" Notes:
           Enclose the string in quotation marks if it contains spa-
           ces. The date must be in the Unix epoch, that is, between
           1/1/1970 and 1/18/2038. If the year is provided as a two-
           digit year, it is assumed to be in the 21st century and
           must be from 00 (2000) through 38 (2038).

This would set the creation date to the modification date:

SetFile -d "$(GetFileInfo -m test.txt)" test.txt

SetFile and GetFileInfo are part of the command line tools package, which can be downloaded from developer.apple.com/downloads or from Xcode's preferences after installing it from the App Store.


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