How to Use Excel Formulas for Current Time (7 Methods)

Herewith an overview of some the easiest ways to fetch current time in Excel.

Overview-Excel Current Time Formula

 


Applying or Changing Time Format in Excel

When working with time in Excel, you might encounter situations where you need to input or manipulate time values. Excel recognizes time inputs when you type them in formats like “11:30,” “15:20,” or “17:00 PM.” By default, Excel displays these values as either “11:30 AM,” “15:20 PM,” or “17:20 PM,” depending on the default time format.

However, sometimes you’ll want to customize the display format for your data. In this guide, we’ll explore various methods to work with current time in Excel.

Cell Format-Excel Current Time Formula


Preformatting Cells

Before diving into the methods, it’s helpful to preformat the cells with the desired time format. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Select all the cells containing time values.
  • Go to the Home tab.
  • Click on the Font Settings icon.

Font setting

  • In the Format Cells window, navigate to the Number tab.
  • Choose Time as the category and select the desired time format (e.g., “1:30:55 PM”).
  • Click OK.

Format cells window

You can use keyboard shortcuts CTRL+SHIFT+F or CTRL +1 to access the Format Cells window.

After returning to the dataset, we’ll see all the formula times are formatted in the specific format that we chose.

Time formatting


Method 1 – Keyboard Shortcuts (Static Excel Current Time):

Excel provides keyboard shortcuts to insert the current time into any cell:

  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+; to display the current time in a random cell.
  • For Mac users, the shortcut key is COMMAND + ;.

keyboard shortcuts

 

Keep in mind that these shortcuts display the current time and remain static unless the shortcut keys are pressed again.

Read More: How to Insert Current Date and Time in Excel


Method 2 – Using the NOW Function (Dynamic Excel Current Time):

The NOW function fetches the current date and time every time you recalculate or revisit the data. To use it:

  • Type the following formula in any blank cell (e.g., C5):
=NOW()
  • The formula will display the current date and time.

NOW Function-Excel Current Time Formula

 

You can also use SHIFT+F9 to insert the current time in active worksheets and F9 to insert it in all open workbooks. To display only the current time, apply formatting to the cell.


Method 3 – Combining NOW and INT Functions:

The INT function rounds a number to the nearest integer. When you apply the NOW function, you get a decimal value. To display only the current time:

  • Paste the following formula in any cell, then press ENTER:
=NOW()-INT(NOW())

NOW and INT function

  • The result will show only the decimal portion, representing the current time.

Values of NOW and INT function

Read More: How to Auto Update Current Time in Excel


Method 4 – Using the TIME Function:

The TIME function takes three arguments (hour, minute, second) to display time. However, it doesn’t directly display the current time. To achieve this, combine it with the NOW function:

  • Write the =NOW() formula in any blank cell (e.g., C5), then press ENTER.

Current time

  • The current time will appear in cell C5.
  • Paste the following formula in cell C6 to assign current time to the TIME function’s arguments:
=TIME(HOUR(C5),MINUTE(C5),SECOND(C5))

TIME FUNCTION Result-Excel Current Time Formula

  • The same time will appear in cell C6.

 

Alternatively, you can use the NOW function directly within the TIME function:

 =TIME(HOUR(NOW()),MINUTE(NOW()),SECOND(NOW())

This formula will also display the current time.

Read More: How to Insert the Current Date and Time in Cell A1


Method 5 – Using the TEXT Function for Excel Current Time:

The TEXT function allows you to convert a numeric value into a text string. By assigning the NOW function as a numeric value and specifying a format, we can display the current time in a customized way. Here’s how to use it:

  • Insert the following formula in any cell (e.g., C5) and press ENTER:
=TEXT(NOW(),"hh:mm:ss AM/PM")
    • Inside the formula:
      • NOW() represents the numeric value.
      • hh:mm:ss AM/PM is the format text. You can choose any format to display the time.

Text function-Excel Current Time Formula


Method 6 – Using NOW and TODAY Functions:

The NOW function displays the current date and time in non-preformatted cells. On the other hand, the TODAY function only shows the current day. By subtracting TODAY from NOW, we can isolate the current time. Follow these steps:

  • Write the following formula in any blank cell (i.e., C5) and press ENTER.
=NOW()-TODAY()

NOW and TODAY-Excel Current Time Formula

    • The result will show the current time, as depicted in the screenshot.

Method 7 – Utilizing Excel’s HOUR, MINUTE and SECOND Functions:

Although the HOURMINUTE, and SECOND functions individually don’t display the current time, we can combine them with the NOW function. This allows us to show the hour, minute, and second components separately and then concatenate them using the Ampersand (&) to form the complete current time:

  • Type the following formula in any blank cell (e.g., C5):
=HOUR(NOW())

HOUR function

  • Repeat the same step for the MINUTE and SECOND formulas (as shown in the image).

Similar to hour function

  • Finally, write the following formula in any cell (e.g., C9) to join the hours, minutes, and seconds:
=C5&":"&C6&":"&C7

hour minute and second result

    • The Ampersands (&) combine the hours, minutes, and seconds to display the current time in the cell.

Read More: How to Insert Excel Timestamp When Cell Changes Without VBA


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Maruf Islam
Maruf Islam

MARUF ISLAM is an excellent marine engineer who loves working with Excel and diving into VBA programming. For him, programming is like a superhero tool that saves time when dealing with data, files, and the internet. His skills go beyond the basics, including ABACUS, AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, Maxsurf, and Hydromax. He got his B.Sc in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from BUET, and now he's switched gears, working as a content developer. In this role, he creates techy content... Read Full Bio

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