How to Change the Last Modified Date, Creation Date, and Last Accessed Date for Files and Folders

It’s amazing how many times you will find yourself in a situation where you have to change or modify the dates for a file or folder, such as the creation date, last modified date or the last accessed date! I’m not really going to wonder WHY anyone would need to do this, but based on my own experience, I have found it very handy in certain circumstances.

Changing the date on a file is actually quite complicated if you try to do it yourself, but thankfully there are a few really nice freeware applications that can get the job done for you quickly and easily. I’m going to quickly go through three different apps each that do pretty much the same thing, but I’d rather mention more than less just in case one does not work for you.

BulkFileChanger

NirSoft is probably the great creator of useful freeware utilities and BulkFileChanger is a prime example. It runs on both 32 or 64-bit versions of Windows and is compatible from Windows 2000 to Windows 8. It requires no installation, which is another great benefit. Once you run the program, you’ll recognize their simple GUI interface immediately.

bulkfilechanger

To get started, just click File and then Add Files. Go ahead and choose the file or folder you want to change the date/time for. Once it shows up in the list, select it and then click on ActionsChange Time/Attributes.

change date time

Here you can change the file time manually by checking the boxes you want to modify. There are are options for adding a certain amount of time to the current times or copying one time from another time.

change file time

Once you have changed the time, click the Do it button and go to Windows Explorer to make sure the time has been changed accordingly. As you can see here, I changed the Date Modified time to one day eariler, making the modified date earlier than the actual Created date/time. Obviously that makes no sense, but there is no check system here, so be careful what you change.

original timeOriginal Date/Time

changed timeAltered Date/Time

Attribute Changer

If you are going to be changing the date and time for a lot of files/folders on your PC, then you might want to check out Attribute Changer. It’s a shell extension that lets you right-click on a file or folder to perform actions like changing the date/time and lots more. This program has also been recently updated and includes support for Windows XP all the way up to Windows 8. Plus, it supports 64-bit Windows also.

Once you install it, go ahead and log off and then log back onto Windows. Now when you right-click on any file or folder, you’ll see a new option called Change Attributes.

attribute changer

In the dialog that pops up, you’ll see a bevy of options. It’s all fairly straight-forward with the top being for file properties and the bottom reserved for time stamps.

change file attributes

Check the Modify date and time stamps box and you can now change the date and time for Created, Modofied and Accessed for the files/folders. You can also select multiple files/folders and change the attributes for many items at once. What’s even better is that if you click on the Advanced button, you can create a filter to process only certain files out of a larger set.

file filter

But the best part of this program is the Simulation mode checkbox at the bottom that lets you see exactly what will be changed without actually changing anything. It’s great if you’re going to perform a bulk file update and don’t want to be surprised with the results. It adds an extra bit of safety and security most other programs don’t have.

SetFileDate 2.0

SetFileDate is a bit older since it hasn’t been updated in several years. I would recommend it only for Windows XP. This program has a prettier interface and allows you to multi-select from an explorer type interface rather than having to add files one by one. You can also change the dates of folders using SetFileDate. It’s very small and very easy to use!

change modified date

Oh I almost forgot, if you’re a Mac user, you can check out a program called A Better Finder Attributes that will allow you to change the date and time for a file, but it costs around $15! Know of something free, post a comment!

mac change file date

Note that if you’re tyring to change file date and times for any kind of nefarious reason, there are ways for forensic experts to figure out that the file was altered. Unless you’re a truly technical geek, there are ways to go into the command line and use obscure NTFS tools to see the history of file date/time changes, so don’t assume that just because Windows explorer shows a new date/time that the original could not be found. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

Comments [12]

  1. I've been changing files dates/times for years (all the way back to DOS), but I have a situtaion now that I haven't been able to find a utility to handle. I have a ton of files that we need to convert from old formats to new formats (i.e. Word 97 to Word 2007). Once we convert and save the files, we want to change the files back to their pre-conversion dates/times. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  2. JB, you should be able to use one of the programs above to change the date/times on an entire folder of files. You can either select an entire folder or select multiple files.

  3. Ah, but the problem is the files don't have the same date and time. I have over 10k files all with different dates and times (and scattered across tons of folders). Once we convert the files to their new formats, we want to set the date and time of the file BACK to its original last modified date (before conversion).

  4. I took a bunch of pictures last weekend and the year was wrong. Is there any way to batch all the pictures to only change the year and leave the rest of the information (time, day, month etc.)?

  5. Hi. I have a mac, and for reasons I would rather not say, I am afraid someone I live with has been accessing my files. I have found the computer time reset a couple of times (reset back to a random date a couple of years ago). I have changed it back. But I started thinking that perhaps this would mask when a file was opened? Can something as simply as changing a computer’s clock change the date accessed of the file?

  6. On mac use the 'touch' command in a terminal window. With no parameters touch will change modification time to now, but you can supply it a timestamp or reference another file. See 'man touch' for more.

  7. Hi there,

    Quick question! There are many ways to change the CREATED date for a file, so you will have created, modified, last accessed and even last printed date.

    This problem is:

    When you open the word document and you click on "File" and then "Properties" this will open the properties tab and when you click on the "statistics" tab button, it still show the original created date.

    How do one change THAT date on a document ???

  8. I recently got a new laptop with XP and transferred all of my videos to the new system. When I did so, it changed all of the creation dates to the transfer date, rather than when the file was actually created. I'd like to go back to the original creation date. The problem is, almost all of them are different (they are videos of my kids). I used to be able to look at the creation date and know how old the kids were when it was shot. Now I can't. Can anyone help?

  9. I just returned from Europe – carried and used two digital cameras. On returning, I realized that the date on one camera was set two hours (time zone error) different than the other. I need to put the images in order of creation regardless of which camera they were shot on.

    Is there some way to change the time/date stamp by a fixed increment (i.e. "What it is now plus two hours") rather than change it to an absolute date?

  10. Is it possible to identify the real date created if the author has changed or deleted it? If so, how can this be done?

  11. As a note, I tried SetFile Date 2.0 on a PDF file and while it changes the date for Windows (the date you see when browsing in Windows folders), it doesn't change the Metadata value in the PDF file, and one of the metadata fields is the date! So when you go to File_Properties in Acrobat, you will see the real date that file was created.

    There's a way around this: import the metadata from another PDF file created earlier, but this means finding a file that matches the data you want to set. Unless there are apps that will also change the metadata values of files containing metadata, GOOD LUCK.

  12. You can always just set back the date and time on your computer and resave the file which will set the date time stamp on the file. Then just set the date and time back to the correct time.

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