Converting Unix timestamps

Sometimes, we need to convert Unix timestamps (seconds since January 1st, 1970) to human-readable dates. For example, we might transform 1539561600 to 2018-10-15 00:00 UTC.

There are multiple online services that do this, I like

Every now and then we need to batch-convert timestamps. The date command shipped on Linux distributions does this nicely:

date "+%c" --date=@1539561600

I recently ran into a similar problem when logfiles contained Unix timestamps instead of human-readable dates. Using date seemed a bit clumsy here. Fortunately, had a nice solution involving Vim. The following sequence converts the timestamp under the cursor and records a macro q to facilitate future conversions:

qq                             " start recording
"mciw                          " put time in register m and replace it…
<C-r>=strftime("%c", @m)<CR>   " …with localized datetime
<Esc>                          " exit insert mode
q                              " stop recording

Quick and convenient — and easily incorporated into a macro to convert timestamps across the entire file.

Vim notes


  • UpdateModDate.vim is a vim script I have written for updating the date-stamp of these pages automatically every time I save the files from within vim.

It searches for lines marked with %DATE_TAG% and updates the date on these lines every time the file is saved. Example:

   Last Modified: Tue Jun  2 04:44:58 UTC 2004      // %DATE_TAG%


  • I've hit a bug in vim related to html highlighting that would cause get really really slow. This has already been fixed though. The interested might look at the detailed description.
published July 13, 2006
tags vim