Todays Date and Current Time Shortcuts in Excel

Selecting Cells in Excel using the F8 key
May 10, 2021

There are a couple of ways to insert the current date and time into an Excel cell.

Here are two shortcuts that will get it done for you.

CTRL + ; in order to get the current date

CTRL + : to get the current time.

Keep in mind that these shortcuts give you constant values and the date (or time) will not change if you open this workbook tomorrow. This is where the following Excel functions come into play.

TODAY() and NOW()

Another way is to use functions. Function =TODAY() returns the current date and function =NOW() returns the  date together with the current time. If you only need the time, you can type  =NOW()-TODAY() .

Why does =NOW()-TODAY() work? Because date and time are actually numbers, formatted as date and time.

Here is an example of these functions.

Note: If you use functions, be aware that they are updated as date and time in your system update. It means that tomorrow we will get tomorrows date inside the cell. Naturally, the same thing happens for time. Whenever the workbook gets recalculated (for example re-opened, or F9 key gets pressed) the time gets updated and we get the current time.

Here are two formatting shortcuts you can use when working with date and time in Excel. The shortcut to format a cell as a date is CTRL + SHIFT + 3, and to format it as time, the shortcut is CTRL + SHIFT + 2. If these shortcuts don’t work on your keyboard, press CTRL + 1 while on the cell, and choose a format you would like to have.

NOTE: for shortcuts that use the number keys, you must use the number keys in the alphanumeric part of your keyboard and not the numeric one! You should think about it like this. The shortcut for the date format is CTRL + # but to get the # symbol I have to press SHIFT + 3 so the shortcut becomes CTRL+ SHIFT + 3. But it’s clear that only the 3 on the alphanumeric part will produce the # and that is why that is the one that I should use.