We report the influence of reduction time on structural, linear and nonlinear optical properties of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) thin films synthesized by spin coating method. We observed that the structural, linear and nonlinear optical properties can be tuned with reduction time in GO is due to the increased structural ordering because of the restoration of sp2 carbon atoms with the time of reduction. The nonlinear absorption studies by open aperture Z-scan technique exhibited a saturable absorption. The nonlinear refraction studies showed the self de focusing nature of rGO by closed aperture Z scan technique. The nonlinear absorption coefficient and saturation intensity varies with the time for reduction of GO which is attributed to the depletion of valence band and the conduction band filling effect. Our results emphasize duration for reduction of GO dependent optical nonlinearity of rGO thin films to a great extent and explore its applications Q switched mode locking laser systems for generating ultra short laser pulses and in optical sensors. The rGO coated films were characterized by X-Ray diffraction method (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Raman spectroscopy, UV–Vis absorption spectroscopy (UV–Vis), Photoluminescence (PL) and Scanning electron microscope (SEM) measurements. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.