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Sun, Jun 21, 2015 5:05 pm

Formatting the output from the date command on a Linux system

I wanted to put a time stamp in a log file whenever a script on a Linux system is run. If you just enter date with no parameters at a shell prompt, you will see something like the following:

$ date
Sun Jun 21 16:10:49 EDT 2015

But you can modify how the output from the date command is presented by specifying command line parameters for the command using date +format, where format is how you wish the output formatted. Parameters that can be used to format the display are listed below:

Format StringDescription
%%a literal %
%alocale's abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun)
%Alocale's full weekday name (e.g., Sunday)
%blocale's abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)
%Blocale's full month name (e.g., January)
%clocale's date and time (e.g., Thu Mar 3 23:05:25 2005)
%Ccentury; like %Y, except omit last two digits (e.g., 21)
%dday of month (e.g, 01)
%Ddate; same as %m/%d/%y
%eday of month, space padded; same as %_d
%Ffull date; same as %Y-%m-%d
%glast two digits of year of ISO week number (see %G)
%Gyear of ISO week number (see %V); normally useful only with %V
%hsame as %b
%Hhour (00..23)
%Ihour (01..12)
%jday of year (001..366)
%khour ( 0..23)
%lhour ( 1..12)
%mmonth (01..12)
%Mminute (00..59)
%na newline
%Nnanoseconds (000000000..999999999)
%plocale's equivalent of either AM or PM; blank if not known
%Plike %p, but lower case
%rlocale's 12-hour clock time (e.g., 11:11:04 PM)
%R24-hour hour and minute; same as %H:%M
%sseconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
%Ssecond (00..60)
%ta tab
%Ttime; same as %H:%M:%S
%uday of week (1..7); 1 is Monday
%Uweek number of year, with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)
%VISO week number, with Monday as first day of week (01..53)
%wday of week (0..6); 0 is Sunday
%Wweek number of year, with Monday as first day of week (00..53)
%xlocale's date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)
%Xlocale's time representation (e.g., 23:13:48)
%ylast two digits of year (00..99)
%z+hhmm numeric timezone (e.g., -0400)
%:z+hh:mm numeric timezone (e.g., -04:00)
%::z+hh:mm:ss numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00:00)
%:::znumeric time zone with : to necessary precision (e.g., -04 , +05:30)
%Zalphabetic time zone abbreviation (e.g., EDT)

Table from HowTo Format Date For Display or Use In a Shell Script by Vivek Gite on February 27, 2007

E.g., if I wanted to display the date in the form of year-month-day, I could use the following:

$ date +"%y-%m-%d"

If you use a lowercase "y", then the year will be displayed as a two-digit year, i.e. "15" in this case for 2015, but if I wanted to have the year displayed as a four-digit year, I could use an uppercase "Y" as shown below:

$ date +"%Y-%m-%d"

In this case I also wanted to log the time in 24-hour format, aka "military time", on the same line as the date, so I could append a %T.

$ date +"%Y-%m-%d %T"
2015-06-21 16:31:40

If I wanted to store the results of the command in a variable, I could use the following:

$ NOW=$(date +"%Y-%m-%d %T")
$ echo $NOW
2015-06-21 16:48:15

[/os/unix/commands] permanent link

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