How to Recursively Find and List the Latest Modified Files in a Directory With Subdirectories and Times

How to recursively find the latest modified file in a directory?

find . -type f -printf '%T@ %p\n' \
| sort -n | tail -1 | cut -f2- -d" "

For a huge tree, it might be hard for sort to keep everything in memory.

%T@ gives you the modification time like a unix timestamp, sort -n sorts numerically, tail -1 takes the last line (highest timestamp), cut -f2 -d" " cuts away the first field (the timestamp) from the output.

Edit: Just as -printf is probably GNU-only, ajreals usage of stat -c is too. Although it is possible to do the same on BSD, the options for formatting is different (-f "%m %N" it would seem)

And I missed the part of plural; if you want more then the latest file, just bump up the tail argument.

Bash - What is a good way to recursively find the type of all files in a directory and its subdirectories?

This may help: How to recursively list subdirectories in Bash without using "find" or "ls" commands?

That said, I modified it to accept user input as follows:


recurse() {
for i in "$1"/*;do
if [ -d "$i" ];then
echo "dir: $i"
recurse "$i"
elif [ -f "$i" ]; then
echo "file: $i"

recurse $1

If you didn't want the files portion (which it appears you don't) then just remove the elif and line below it. I left it in as the original post had it also. Hope this helps.

Method to recursively search for a file in directory and subdirectories doesn't find the file

I believe that return $this->findFileInPathRecursive($file_to_find, $new_path); will cause an early return when the first subfolder does not contains the file.

You can avoid by only returning when the file is found.

if($found = $this->findFileInPathRecursive($file_to_find, $new_path)) {
return $found;

public function findFileInPathRecursive($file_to_find, $path) {

if (substr($path, -1) != "/") $path .= "/"; // Add slash at path's end

$files = scandir($path);

foreach($files as $file) {

if (substr($file, 0, 1) == ".") continue; // skip if "." or ".."

if (is_dir($path.$file)) { // if "file" is a directory, call self with the new path

$new_path = $path.$file;

// We only want to return file
if($found = $this->findFileInPathRecursive($file_to_find, $new_path)) {
return $found;

else {

if (pathinfo($file)['basename'] == $file_to_find OR pathinfo($file)['filename'] == $file_to_find) {

return $path.$file;




return false;


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