We can use the NOW function in Google Sheets to get the current time, in the below example we will demonstrate the use of this useful function.
1. Click an empty cell in your sheet
Click and highlight an empty cell in your sheet. This cell is where the current time will be populated into.
In our example we have selected cell B3.
2. Input the formula: =TEXT(NOW(),“TIME_TAGS”)
In the empty cell input the NOW formula in the following format:
=TEXT: This function converts a number into text, the current time is populated using numbers by default.
NOW: This function returns the current time.
TIME_TAGS: These tags are inputted to specify the time data to return. They are enclosed in double quotations (“ ”).
To return the current date using day, month and year the tag format is:
“YYYY-M-D” (Year - Month - Day)
To return the current time using, seconds, minutes and hours the tag format is:
You can change these tags to suit your preferences, as an example you could choose to simply enter “HH:MM” which would just return the Hours and Minutes.
In the example below, we have used the formula to return both the current date and time by entering:
=TEXT(NOW(),"YYYY-M-D | HH:MM:SS")
The tags are enclosed in the same double quotations and we have used the separator symbol ( | ) for formatting but this is not required.
3. Press Enter and the current time will be populated
With the formula inputted, press the Enter key - the current time will populate in the cell.
As we can see below, the current time and date is populated.
Updating the settings to ensure the current timestamp is updated
Please be aware that the NOW function will only update the current time when the document is changed, for those who do not often make changes this could be an issue as the timestamp may not accurately reflect the most current time. This can be resolved by changing the following settings:
1. Click “File” followed by “Settings”
From the file menu select File, from the menu displayed click Settings
2. Select the “Calculation” tab and expand the “Recalculation” dropdown menu
From the Spreadsheet settings pop up menu that displays click the Calculation tab, in the Calculation section expand the Recalculation menu and choose the interval you would like the current time to be updated:
On change: Refreshes the current time whenever the sheet is edited.
On change and every minute: Updates the current time whenever the sheet is edited AND every minute.
On change and every hour: Refreshes the current time whenever the sheet is edited AND every hour.
Simply click the option to select it.
3. Click “Save settings” to apply the changes
Select the Save settings button, the changes will be applied and the current time will update to your chosen preferences.