Here’s a script which prints a sorted list of the files in a git repository, but sorted by when their last commit occurred, rather than the standard modification, creation or access times you’d see from ls. This will form the bases of another script in future, which will give me a list of files that haven’t been updated in git for a certain amount of time, but I think this might be useful as-is to some people.

The script works by passing a list of files (currently supplied by ack, which nicely filters out VCS files and directories), through xargs to a non-standard git log line, which gets the single most recent commit for the last file, along with the commit timestamp, and abbreviated hash:

git log -1 --pretty="format:%ct       %cr     %h" static/images/rss.png
1453646325      3 months ago    1b2b259

These are all separated by tabs, and xargs also adds the filename, so the full xargs looks like this:

ack -f |\
xargs -I § git log -1 --pretty="format:%ct	${format}	%h	§;" §

The filter variable is either set to tee with no arguments, which does nothing, or head -n 50, when the script is run with its debug (-d) flag set, as I found during testing on large repos that it can be very slow.

After outputting this data, it’s sorted, which will use the timestamp in the first column, and then piped through cut -f 2- to strip those timestamps, so the output looks like this:

% git-file-age | tail -n 5
6 weeks ago	86e9ef9	content/post/
5 weeks ago	1b32913	content/post/
3 weeks ago	d3b88cc	content/post/
2 weeks ago	ef8fc8d	content/post/
3 days ago	fc577f4	content/post/

Finally, I added a few arguments to reverse the sort order (-r), set a custom time format (-f), and enable debug mode (-d). Using the -f argument, you can set both commit and author times, for example %cr or %ar. See the PRETTY FORMAT section of git help log for more examples.

Here’s the full script:

#! /bin/bash

function main {
    local reverse=false format='%cr'
    local helpstring="List files in a git repo along with when they were last updated.\n\t-d\tdebug mode (truncate input)\n\t-r\treverse sort order (default oldest first)\n\t-f\tset git date format string (e.g. %cr, %cd, etc.)\n\t-h\tdisplay this help.\n"

    while getopts "drf:h" opt; do
        case $opt in
            d) DEBUG=true ;;
            r) reverse=true ;;
            f) format=$OPTARG ;;
            h) echo -e $helpstring; return;;
            *) return 1;;
    shift $((OPTIND-1))

    readonly DEBUG

    # If debug is only process 50 filenames
    if $DEBUG; then 
        FILTER='head -n 50'

    ack_file_info $format | clean_input | sort_cleaned_input $reverse | clean_output

# Use ack's -f flag to just list files. We could use pretty much anything here,
# but I'm tempted to allow passing args to ack later
function ack_file_info {
    local format="$1"

    ack -f |\
    $FILTER |\
    xargs -I § git log -1 --pretty="format:%ct	${format}	%h	§;" §

# I'm not sure what goes one above, but on Mac OSX, the output of xargs loses
# its newlines when it's piped through a filter. So replace ; with \n as a
# bodge to fix this.
function clean_input {
    tr ';' '\n' 

function sort_cleaned_input {
    local reverse="$1"

    if $reverse; then 
        sort -r

# Trim commit timestamps from output
function clean_output {
    cut -f 2-

main "$@"

You can also get this on github.