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date - print or set the system date and time


date [OPTION]... [+FORMAT]
date [-u|--utc|--universal] [MMDDhhmm[[CC]YY][.ss]]


Display the current time in the given FORMAT, or set the system date.

-d, --date=STRING
display time described by STRING, not ‘now’

-f, --file=DATEFILE
like --date once for each line of DATEFILE

-r, --reference=FILE
display the last modification time of FILE

-R, --rfc-2822
output date and time in RFC 2822 format

output date and time in RFC 3339 format. TIMESPEC=’date’, ‘seconds’, or ‘ns’ for date and time to the indicated precision.

-s, --set=STRING
set time described by STRING

-u, --utc, --universal
print or set Coordinated Universal Time

--help display this help and exit

output version information and exit

FORMAT controls the output. The only valid option for the second form specifies Coordinated Universal Time. Interpreted sequences are:

a literal %

locale’s abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun)

locale’s full weekday name (e.g., Sunday)

locale’s abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)

locale’s full month name (e.g., January)

locale’s date and time (e.g., Thu Mar 3 23:05:25 2005)

century; like %Y, except omit last two digits (e.g., 21)

day of month (e.g, 01)

date; same as %m/%d/%y

day of month, space padded; same as %_d

full date; same as %Y-%m-%d

last two digits of year of ISO week number (see %G)

year of ISO week number (see %V); normally useful only with %V

same as %b

hour (00..23)

hour (01..12)

day of year (001..366)

hour ( 0..23)

hour ( 1..12)

month (01..12)

minute (00..59)

a newline

nanoseconds (000000000..999999999)

locale’s equivalent of either AM or PM; blank if not known

like %p, but lower case

locale’s 12-hour clock time (e.g., 11:11:04 PM)

24-hour hour and minute; same as %H:%M

seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC

second (00..60)

a tab

time; same as %H:%M:%S

day of week (1..7); 1 is Monday

week number of year, with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)

ISO week number, with Monday as first day of week (01..53)

day of week (0..6); 0 is Sunday

week number of year, with Monday as first day of week (00..53)

locale’s date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)

locale’s time representation (e.g., 23:13:48)

last two digits of year (00..99)


+hhmm numeric timezone (e.g., -0400)

+hh:mm numeric timezone (e.g., -04:00)

+hh:mm:ss numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00:00)

%:::z numeric time zone with : to necessary precision (e.g., -04, +05:30)

alphabetic time zone abbreviation (e.g., EDT)

By default, date pads numeric fields with zeroes. The following optional flags may follow ‘%’:

- (hyphen) do not pad the field _ (underscore) pad with spaces 0
(zero) pad with zeros ^ use upper case if possible # use opposite case if possible

After any flags comes an optional field width, as a decimal number; then an optional modifier, which is either E to use the locale’s alternate representations if available, or O to use the locale’s alternate numeric symbols if available.


Specifies the timezone, unless overridden by command line parameters. If neither is specified, the setting from /etc/localtime is used.


Written by David MacKenzie.

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to <>.


Copyright (C) 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software. You may redistribute copies of it under the terms of the GNU General Public License <>. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

See Also

The full documentation for date is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and date programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info date

should give you access to the complete manual.

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