Manual browser: stat(1)

STAT(1) General Commands Manual STAT(1)


stat, readlinkdisplay file status


stat [-FLnq] [-f format | -l | -r | -s | -x] [-t timefmt] [file ...]

readlink [-fnqsv] [file ...]


The stat utility displays information about the file pointed to by file. Read, write, or execute permissions of the named file are not required, but all directories listed in the pathname leading to the file must be searchable. If no argument is given, stat displays information about the file descriptor for standard input.

When invoked as readlink, only the target of the symbolic link is printed. If the given argument is not a symbolic link and the -f option is not specified, readlink will print nothing and exit with an error. If the -f option is specified, the output is canonicalized by following every symlink in every component of the given path recursively. readlink will resolve both absolute and relative paths, and return the absolute pathname corresponding to file. In this case, the argument does not need to be a symbolic link.

The information displayed is obtained by calling lstat(2) with the given argument and evaluating the returned structure. The default format displays the st_dev, st_ino, st_mode, st_nlink, st_uid, st_gid, st_rdev, st_size, st_atime, st_mtime, st_ctime, st_birthtime, st_blksize, st_blocks, and st_flags fields, in that order.

The options are as follows:

As in ls(1), display a slash (‘/’) immediately after each pathname that is a directory, an asterisk (‘*’) after each that is executable, an at sign (‘@’) after each symbolic link, a percent sign (‘%’) after each whiteout, an equal sign (‘=’) after each socket, and a vertical bar (‘|’) after each that is a FIFO. The use of -F implies -l.
-f format
Display information using the specified format. See the FORMATS section for a description of valid formats.
Use stat(2) instead of lstat(2). The information reported by stat will refer to the target of file, if file is a symbolic link, and not to file itself.
Display output in ls -lT format.
Do not force a newline to appear at the end of each piece of output.
Suppress failure messages if calls to stat(2) or lstat(2) fail. When run as readlink, error messages are automatically suppressed.
Display raw information. That is, for all the fields in the stat-structure, display the raw, numerical value (for example, times in seconds since the epoch, etc.)
Display information in “shell output”, suitable for initializing variables. When run as readlink, suppress error messages. This is equivalent to specifying

FMT="st_dev=%d st_ino=%i st_mode=%#p st_nlink=%l st_uid=%u st_gid=%g" 
FMT="$FMT st_rdev=%r st_size=%z st_atime=%Sa st_mtime=%Sm st_ctime=%Sc" 
FMT="$FMT st_birthtime=%SB st_blksize=%k st_blocks=%b st_flags=%f" 
stat -t %s -f "$FMT" .
Note that if you use a timeformat that contains embedded whitespace or shell meta-characters you will need to include appropriate quoting so the -s output remains valid.
-t timefmt
Display timestamps using the specified format. This format is passed directly to strftime(3).
Turn off quiet mode.
Display information in a more verbose way as known from some Linux distributions.


Format strings are similar to printf(3) formats in that they start with %, are then followed by a sequence of formatting characters, and end in a character that selects the field of the struct stat which is to be formatted. If the % is immediately followed by one of n, t, %, or @, then a newline character, a tab character, a percent character, or the current file number is printed, otherwise the string is examined for the following:

Any of the following optional flags:

Selects an alternate output form for string, octal and hexadecimal output. String output will be encoded in vis(3) style. Non-zero octal output will have a leading zero. Non-zero hexadecimal output will have “0x” prepended to it.
Asserts that a sign indicating whether a number is positive or negative should always be printed. Non-negative numbers are not usually printed with a sign.
Aligns string output to the left of the field, instead of to the right.
Sets the fill character for left padding to the 0 character, instead of a space.
Reserves a space at the front of non-negative signed output fields. A ‘+’ overrides a space if both are used.

Then the following fields:

An optional decimal digit string specifying the minimum field width.
An optional precision composed of a decimal point ‘.’ and a decimal digit string that indicates the maximum string length, the number of digits to appear after the decimal point in floating point output, or the minimum number of digits to appear in numeric output.
An optional output format specifier which is one of D, O, U, X, F, or S. These represent signed decimal output, octal output, unsigned decimal output, hexadecimal output, floating point output, and string output, respectively. Some output formats do not apply to all fields. Floating point output only applies to timespec fields (the a, m, and c fields).

The special output specifier S may be used to indicate that the output, if applicable, should be in string format. May be used in combination with

Display date in strftime(3) format.
Display actual device name.
Display group or user name.
Display the mode of file as in ls -lTd.
Displays the name of file.
Displays the type of file.
Insert a `` -> '' into the output. Note that the default output format for Y is a string, but if specified explicitly, these four characters are prepended.
An optional sub field specifier (high, middle, or low). Only applies to the p, d, r, T, N, and z output formats. It can be one of the following:
“High” -- depending on the datum:
d, r
Major number for devices
“User” bits from the string form of permissions or the file “type” bits from the numeric forms
The long output form of file type
Directory path of the file, similar to what dirname(1) would show
File size, rounded to the nearest gigabyte
“Middle” -- depending on the datum:
The “group” bits from the string form of permissions or the “suid”, “sgid”, and “sticky” bits from the numeric forms
File size, rounded to the nearest megabyte
“Low” -- depending on the datum:
r, d
Minor number for devices
The “other” bits from the string form of permissions or the “user”, “group”, and “other” bits from the numeric forms
The ls -F style output character for file type (the use of L here is optional)
Base filename of the file, similar to what basename(1) would show
File size, rounded to the nearest kilobyte
A required field specifier, being one of the following:
Device upon which file resides (st_dev).
file's inode number (st_ino).
File type and permissions (st_mode).
Number of hard links to file (st_nlink).
u, g
User-id and group-id of file's owner (st_uid, st_gid).
Device number for character and block device special files (st_rdev).
a, m, c, B
The time file was last accessed or modified, or when the inode was last changed, or the birth time of the inode (st_atime, st_mtime, st_ctime, st_birthtime).
The size of file in bytes (st_size).
Number of blocks allocated for file (st_blocks).
Optimal file system I/O operation block size (st_blksize).
User defined flags for file (st_flags).
Inode generation number (st_gen).

The following five field specifiers are not drawn directly from the data in struct stat, but are:

The name of the file.
The absolute pathname corresponding to the file.
The file type, either as in ls -F or in a more descriptive form if the sub field specifier H is given.
The target of a symbolic link.
Expands to “major,minor” from the rdev field for character or block special devices and gives size output for all others.

Only the % and the field specifier are required. Most field specifiers default to U as an output form, with the exception of p which defaults to O; a, m, and c which default to D; and Y, T, and N, which default to S.


The stat utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


If no options are specified, the default format is "%d %i %Sp %l %Su %Sg %r %z \"%Sa\" \"%Sm\" \"%Sc\" \"%SB\" %k %b %#Xf %N".

> stat /tmp/bar 
0 78852 -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 0 0 "Jul  8 10:26:03 2004" "Jul  8 10:26:03 2004" "Jul  8 10:28:13 2004" "Jan  1 09:00:00 1970" 16384 0 0 /tmp/bar

This example produces output very similar to that from find ... -ls (except that find(1) displays the time in a different format, and find(1) sometimes adds one or more spaces after the comma in “major,minor” for device nodes):

> stat -f "%7i %6b %-11Sp %3l %-17Su %-17Sg %9Z %Sm %N%SY" /tmp/bar 
  78852      0 -rw-r--r--    1 root              wheel                     0 Jul  8 10:26:03 2004 /tmp/bar 
> find /tmp/bar -ls -exit 
  78852      0 -rw-r--r--    1 root              wheel                     0 Jul  8  2004 /tmp/bar

This example produces output very similar to that from ls -lTd (except that ls(1) adjusts the column spacing differently when listing multiple files, and ls(1) adds at least one space after the comma in “major,minor” for device nodes):

> stat -f "%-11Sp %l %Su  %Sg  %Z %Sm %N%SY" /tmp/bar 
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  0 Jul  8 10:26:03 2004 /tmp/bar 
> ls -lTd /tmp/bar 
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  0 Jul  8 10:26:03 2004 /tmp/bar

Given a symbolic link “foo” that points from /tmp/foo to /, you would use stat as follows:

> stat -F /tmp/foo 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 jschauma cs 1 Apr 24 16:37:28 2002 /tmp/foo@ -> / 
> stat -LF /tmp/foo 
drwxr-xr-x 16 root wheel 512 Apr 19 10:57:54 2002 /tmp/foo/

To initialize some shell-variables, you could use the -s flag as follows:

> csh 
% eval set `stat -s .cshrc` 
% echo $st_size $st_mtime 
1148 1015432481 
> sh 
$ eval $(stat -s .profile) 
$ echo $st_size $st_mtime 
1148 1015432481

In order to get a list of the kind of files including files pointed to if the file is a symbolic link, you could use the following format:

$ stat -f "%N: %HT%SY" /tmp/* 
/tmp/bar: Symbolic Link -> /tmp/foo 
/tmp/output25568: Regular File 
/tmp/blah: Directory 
/tmp/foo: Symbolic Link -> /

In order to get a list of the devices, their types and the major and minor device numbers, formatted with tabs and linebreaks, you could use the following format:

stat -f "Name: %N%n%tType: %HT%n%tMajor: %Hr%n%tMinor: %Lr%n%n" /dev/* 
Name: /dev/wt8 
        Type: Block Device 
        Major: 3 
        Minor: 8 
Name: /dev/zero 
        Type: Character Device 
        Major: 2 
        Minor: 12

In order to determine the permissions set on a file separately, you could use the following format:

> stat -f "%Sp -> owner=%SHp group=%SMp other=%SLp" . 
drwxr-xr-x -> owner=rwx group=r-x other=r-x

In order to determine the three files that have been modified most recently, you could use the following format:

> stat -f "%m%t%Sm %N" /tmp/* | sort -rn | head -3 | cut -f2- 
Apr 25 11:47:00 2002 /tmp/blah 
Apr 25 10:36:34 2002 /tmp/bar 
Apr 24 16:47:35 2002 /tmp/foo

User names, group names, and file names that contain spaces or other special characters may be encoded in vis(3) style, using the # modifier:

> ln -s 'target with spaces' 'link with spaces' 
> stat -f "%#N%#SY" 'link with spaces' 
link\swith\sspaces -> target\swith\sspaces


The stat utility appeared in NetBSD 1.6.


The stat utility was written by Andrew Brown <>. This man page was written by Jan Schaumann <>.
December 2, 2012 NetBSD 7.0