​​​​Now

The Excel NOW function returns the current date and time.

Syntax

=NOW()

The Now function requires no arguments.

Example

The fastest way to see Now in action is to write =NOW() into a cell in an Excel worksheet. You will be shown the current date and time.

The result of the Now function on the 23rd of March, 2020.
The result of the Now function on the 23rd of March, 2020.

Updating the value

Updating the Now function is done automatically when you open the worksheet, or when you edit it. Alternatively, you can force it to update by pressing F9.

Adding or subtracting days

To get the date and time a specific number of days in the past or the future, you can add or subtract the number of days. For example, use =NOW() - 1 to get the date and time 24 hours ago. And similarly, for a date 48 hours in the future, use =NOW() + 2.

The difference with the Today function

The Now function is very similar to the Today function (returns current date), except that the Now function also returns the current time.

Here you can see the difference between the Today and the Now function. Note that the Now function also returns the date.
Here you can see the difference between the Today and the Now function. Note that the Now function also returns the date.

Isolate just the day, hour, minute, second, etc.

The Now function can be combined with other date or time functions to return specific parts of the date or time. For example, to show only the current hour, you can use the NOW function inside of the HOUR function. Like this:

Only return the current hour using =HOUR(NOW()). The time in this screenshot was 3PM (17:00).
Only return the current hour using =HOUR(NOW()). The time in this screenshot was 3PM (17:00).

The same can be done with:

  • =SECOND(NOW()) to get the second of the minute.
  • =MINUTE(NOW()) to get the minute of the hour.
  • =HOUR(NOW()) to get the hour of the day (for a 24 hour based clock).
  • =DAY(NOW()) to get the day of the month.
  • =WEEKDAY(NOW()) to get the day of the week (with Sunday = 1, Monday = 2, …, Saturday = 7).
  • =MONTH(NOW()) to get the month of the year.
  • =YEAR(NOW()) to get the current year.

Questions

How do I get a date that won’t be updated?

You can insert the current date using Ctrl + ; (Windows) or ^ + ; (Mac). A date inserted this way will not change.

How do I get a time that won’t be updated?

In that case, you can insert the current date using Ctrl + Shift + ; (Windows) or ⌘Command + ; (Mac). The time inserted this way won’t change.

Notes on the Now function

There are some things to keep in mind when using the NOW function:

  1. The returned value is in Excel date serial number format. What this means is that behind the scenes, it’s just a single number. You can see this for yourself by changing the number formatting of the cell to General. Check out this article for more information about serial numbers.
  2. There is a function to return the current date (Today). There is a function that returns the current date and time (Now). But there is no function in Excel that returns only the current time.
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