import os, glob, time, operator def get_oldest_file(files, _invert=False): """ Find and return the oldest file of input file names. Only one wins tie. Values based on time distance from present. Use of `_invert` inverts logic to make this a youngest routine, to be used more clearly via `get_youngest_file`. """ gt = if _invert else # Check for empty list. if not files: return None # Raw epoch distance. now = time.time() # Select first as arbitrary sentinel file, storing name and age. oldest = files[0], now - os.path.getctime(files[0]) # Iterate over all remaining files. for f in files[1:]: age = now - os.path.getctime(f) if gt(age, oldest[1]): # Set new oldest. oldest = f, age # Return just the name of oldest file. return oldest[0] def get_youngest_file(files): return get_oldest_file(files, _invert=True) # Example. files = glob.glob('*.py') print 'oldest:', get_oldest_file(files) print 'youngest:', get_youngest_file(files)