Sift plugin for Take Command / TCC

beta version     2023-10-16

Charles Dye


This plugin provides a quick way to find the n largest, smallest, oldest, or newest files in one or more directories or directory trees, and sort them into an array variable. It adds one new command, SIFT; one new internal variable, _SIFT; and one function, @SIFT.

Note that because this plugin returns results in an array variable, it is incompatible with the free TCC/LE. TCC/LE does not support array variables; trying to load this plugin will fail with an error message.


To use this plugin, copy Sift.dll to some known location on your hard drive. (If you are still using the 32-bit version of Take Command, take Sift-x86.dll instead of Sift.dll.) Load the plugin with a PLUGIN /L command, for example:

plugin /l c:\bin\tcmd\sift\sift.dll

If you copy this file to a subdirectory named PlugIns within your Take Command program directory, the plugin will be loaded automatically when TCC starts.

Plugin Features:

New command: SIFT

New variable: _SIFT

New function: @SIFT

Syntax Note:

The syntax definitions in the following text use these conventions for clarity:

BOLD CODEindicates text which must be typed exactly as shown.
CODEindicates optional text, which may be typed as shown or omitted.
Bold italicnames a required argument; a value must be supplied.
Regular italicnames an optional argument.
ellipsis…after an argument means that more than one may be given.

New Command:

SIFT — Returns a sorted list of files in an array.

SIFT /A:attribs /C:sep /I /R /T:stamp /U /V /Z n criterion array filespec…

/A:attribsselect files by attributes (the default is all files):
       A - not Archived
       C - Compressed
       E - Encrypted
       H - Hidden
       I - not Indexed
       O - Offline
       R - Read-only
       S - System
       - - a hyphen inverts attributes which follow
/C:sepCharacter separating the time from the date
/Ireturn date stamps in ISO 8601 format, YYYY-MM-DD
/Rrecurse into subdirectories
/T:stampselects which date stamp to use:
       A - last Access
       C - Creation
       W - last Write (the default)
/Ureturn date stamps as UTC (not localized)
/Vdump the array to stdout when done
/Zlocalize date stamps dumbly, like DIR and Explorer
nthe number of files to return, 1 — 4096; defaults to 10
criterionthe quality used to find and sort files:
       /L or LARGEST — find the largest n files (the default)
       /S or SMALLEST — find the smallest n files
       /O or OLDEST — find the oldest n files
       /N or NEWEST — find the newest n files
arrayname of the array to create and fill
filespec…wildcard filespecs to match
/Freturn fully qualified filenames
/NCdo not insert commas in file sizes
/NDdo not recurse into hidden directories; only useful with /R
/NIdo not include Descript.ion files
/NJdo not recurse into junctions; only useful with /R

filespecs may use directory aliases, wildcards including character sets in square brackets, and include lists. If you do not specify any filespec, then * (all files in the current directory) will be supplied by default.

An n-by-3 array will be created to hold the resulting list. (If an array by the same name already exists, that array will be lost.) Column 0 of the array holds filenames, column 1 holds the files’ sizes, and column 2 holds their date stamps. The filenames returned in column 0 will be fully qualified if either /F or /R was specified, or if more than one filespec was supplied; otherwise filenames are stored without paths. The date stamp selected by /T: is returned in column 2, and is also used for sorting if OLDEST or NEWEST is specified.

If LARGEST is specified or there is no criterion, files will be stored in the array in decreasing order of size, i.e. row 0 will hold the largest file, row 1 will hold the next-largest, and so on. If SMALLEST is specified, then files will be stored in increasing order by size. If OLDEST is used, then files will be sorted into chronological order; and NEWEST, in reverse chronological order. If multiple files have the same size or the same date stamp, then the first one discovered “wins” — which one is found first depends on the filesystem.

sift 20 largest bigdlls c:\windows\system32\*.dll

… finds the 20 largest .DLL files in C:\Windows\System32, and sorts them into a 20-by-3 array named BIGDLLS.

Only the array name is mandatory:

sift big

… is legal, and will sort the 10 largest files in the current directory into a 10-by-3 array named BIG.

New Variable:

_SIFT — Returns the number of files found by the last successful SIFT command.


If SIFT has not yet been called, _SIFT returns -1. If SIFT fails for some reason (bad syntax?) then the value returned by _SIFT is unchanged.

New Function:

@SIFT — Returns the full name of the single largest (smallest, etc.) matching file.


criterionL, S, O, or N for largest, smallest, oldest, newest; defaults to L
attribssupported attributes are -ACEHIORS
flagsbitmapped: 1 recurse, 2 no junctions, 4 no hidden directories, 128 exclude Descript.ion files
stampA, C, or W for last access, creation, or last write; defaults to W

The @SIFT function provides an easy way to find the single largest, smallest, oldest, or newest matching file in a directory or directory tree, without the overhead of an array. It returns a fully-qualified filename. (It only returns a filename; if you want to get the size or time stamps of the file, call TCC’s internal @FILEDATE, @FILESIZE, and @FILETIME functions as usual. This function is potentially very slow, so calling it multiple times to retrieve different information about the same file would be a bad plan.)

You must supply a filespec; it may include a directory alias.

If no matching files are found, this function returns an empty string.

• Note: While this particular function does not use an array, you still cannot load this plugin in TCC/LE or in older shells which don’t support arrays.

Startup Message:

This plugin displays an informational line when it initializes. The message will be suppressed in transient or pipe shells. You can disable it for all shells by defining an environment variable named NOLOADMSG, for example:

set /e /u noloadmsg=1

Status and Licensing:

Consider this beta software. It may well have issues. Try it at your own risk. If you find bugs, you can report them in the JP Software support forum.

Sift is currently licensed only for testing purposes. I may make binaries and source code available under some free license once I consider it ready for use.


You can download the current version of the plugin from