Tom Wyant > Win32API-File-Time-0.006 > Win32API::File::Time



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Module Version: 0.006   Source   Latest Release: Win32API-File-Time-0.007_03


Win32API::File::Time - Set file times, even on open or readonly files.


 use Win32API::File::Time qw{:win};
 ($atime, $mtime, $ctime) = GetFileTime ($filename);
 SetFileTime ($filename, $atime, $mtime, $ctime);


 use Win32API::File::Time qw{utime};
 utime $atime, $mtime, $filename or die $^E;


The purpose of Win32API::File::Time is to provide maximal access to the file creation, modification, and access times under MSWin32.

Under Windows, the Perl utime module will not modify the time of an open file, nor a read-only file. The comments in win32.c indicate that this is the intended functionality, at least for read-only files.

This module will read and modify the time on open files, read-only files, and directories. Caveat user.

This module is based on the SetFileTime function in kernel32.dll. Perl's utime built-in also makes explicit use of this function if the "C" run-time version of utime fails. The difference is in how the filehandle is created. The Perl built-in requests access GENERIC_READ | GENERIC_WRITE when modifying file dates, whereas this module requests access FILE_WRITE_ATTRIBUTES.

Nothing is exported by default, but all documented subroutines are exportable. In addition, the following export tags are supported:

 :all => exports everything exportable
 :win => exports GetFileTime and SetFileTime

Wide system calls are implemented (based on the truth of ${^WIDE_SYSTEM_CALLS}) but not currently supported. In other words: I wrote the code, but haven't tested it and don't have any plans to. Feedback will be accepted, and implemented when I get a sufficient supply of tuits.

($atime, $mtime, $ctime) = GetFileTime ($filename);

This subroutine returns the access, modification, and creation times of the given file. If it fails, nothing is returned, and the error code can be found in $^E.

No, there's no additional functionality here versus the stat built-in. But it was useful for development and testing, and has been exposed for orthogonality's sake.

SetFileTime (filename, atime, mtime, ctime);

This subroutine sets the access, modification, and creation times of the given file. The return is true for success, and false for failure. In the latter case, $^E will contain the error.

If you don't want to set all of the times, pass 0 or undef for the times you don't want to set. For example,

 $now = time ();
 SetFileTime ($filename, $now, $now);

is equivalent to the "touch" command for the given file.

utime ($atime, $mtime, $filename, ...)

This subroutine overrides the built-in of the same name. It does exactly the same thing, but has a different idea than the built-in about what files are legal to change.

Like the core utime, it returns the number of files successfully modified. If not all files can be modified, $^E contains the last error encountered.


 0.001 Initial release
 0.002 Correct MANIFEST and Makefile.PL dependencies.
       Tweak documentation. No code changes.
 0.003 Correct time conversion.
       Modify test to not change own date.
 0.004 Close handles after use. Thanks to Chris
           Camejo for pointing out the leak.
       Fix export tags to agree with docs.
       Tweak "BUGS" documentation.
 0.005 Assert FILE_FLAG_BACKUP_SEMANTICS when reading
           times, so that it works for directories
           under XP and 2003 server. Thanks to Leigh
           Power for pointing out the problem and
           suggesting the solution.
       Document FAT, and accomodate it in self-test.
           Thanks again, Leigh.
       Centralize code to close handles on error.
 0.006 T. R. Wyant
       Re-layout kit, add POD tests.


As implemented, GetFileTime () constitutes an access, and therefore updates the access time.

The stat () builtin, on the other hand, doesn't report an access time change even after GetFileTime () has been used. In fact, it looks to me very much like stat () reports the modification time in element [8] of the list, but I find this nowhere documented.

FAT file time resolution is 2 seconds at best, as documented at;en-us;127830. Access time resolution seems to be to the nearest day.


This module would not exist without the following people:

Aldo Calpini, who gave us Win32::API.

Tye McQueen, who gave us Win32API::File.

Jenda Krynicky, whose "How2 create a PPM distribution" ( gave me a leg up on both PPM and tar distributions.

The folks of ActiveState (, formerly known as Hip Communications), who found a way to reconcile Windows' and Perl's subtly different ideas of what time it is.

The folks of Cygwin (, especially those who worked on in the Cygwin core. This is the only implementation of utime I could find which did what I wanted it to do.


Thomas R. Wyant, III (


Copyright 2004, 2005 by E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Changes since version 0.005 copyright 2007 by Thomas R. Wyant, III. All rights reserved.


This module is free software; you can use it, redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. Please see for current licenses.

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