How to Determine the Last Open Date and Time of a File

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View the last access date and time for files on your computer to help monitor directory changes and increase security. By default, Windows sets the Last Access timestamp only when a file is first created. Activate the Last Access feature in the Command Prompt to switch on system logging of file access. Once enabled, the Last Access attribute will be updated automatically whenever you view, copy or move a file or folder on your system. You can view a file or folder's Last Access details in File Explorer -- or in its properties dialog.

Enable Date Accessed

  • Press the "Windows" key to open your Start screen.

  • Type "cmd.exe", right-click on "Cmd.exe" from the search results and then click "Run as Administrator" in the bottom context bar. Click "Yes" and then authenticate with an administrator account if prompted by User Account Control.

  • Enter the following command line into the Command Prompt terminal:

    fsutil behavior set DisableLastAccess 0

  • Press "Enter" to submit the command. The message "DisableLastAccess = 0" indicates that Last Access is enabled, "DisableLastAccess = 1" indicates Last Access has been disabled. Entering the command with a 1 instead of a 0 will disable Last Access for your system.

Add Date Accessed Details Column

  • Press "Windows-E" to open File Explorer.

  • Open the folder containing the files for which you want to view access history. For example, select the "Documents" library.

  • Right-click on one of the column labels and then click "More…" to open the Choose Details dialog.

  • Scroll down the list under Details and then check the box "Date Accessed" box. Click the "OK" button. The Last Access information for your files and folders will be listed under the "Date Accessed" column.

Tips & Warnings

  • Last Access information is logged only after you have enabled the feature using the Command Prompt.
  • You can also view a file or folder's Last Access details in its properties dialog. Right-click on a file or folder and then click "Properties" The last-access information is listed next to "Accessed."
  • To improve system performance, the Last Access time-update function is disabled in Windows by default. Enabling the feature may have a negative effect on your system performance.
  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft Windows 8. Steps will vary with different versions.

References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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