Google Sheets NOW feature in date and time calculations

Content
  1. Add the current date and time to Google Sheets
  2. Google Sheets NOW feature
  3. NOW syntax and function arguments
  4. Entering the NOW function
  5. Keyboard shortcuts to format cells for date or time
  6. Format NOW using the Format menu
  7. NOW function and worksheet recalculation
  8. Saving Static Dates and Times

Add the current date and time to Google Sheets

Depending on your needs, you can use Google Sheets’ date function to return the current date or time, among other things.

Date functions work in formulas for subtracting dates and times, such as finding dates that are a certain number of days in the future.

Google Sheets NOW feature

One of the more well-known date functions is the NOW() function. Use it to add the current date and time to a worksheet if needed, or it can be included in various date and time formulas.

NOW syntax and function arguments

Function syntax refers to the layout of the function and includes the function name, parentheses, comma separators, and arguments.

The syntax for the NOW() function is:

 = NOW () 

No arguments – data normally entered in the function’s parentheses – for the NOW() function.

Entering the NOW function

Because NOW() takes no arguments, it can be entered quickly. Here’s how:

  1. Click the cell where the date or time appears to make it active.

  2. Enter the formula:

     = Now () 
  3. Press key Enter on keyboard. The current date and time should appear in the cell where the formula was entered. When you click a cell with a date and time, the full function appears in the formula bar above the worksheet.

Keyboard shortcuts to format cells for date or time

To display only the current date or time in a cell, change the cell format to time or date format using keyboard shortcuts.

  • Date label in the format (day/month/year) − Ctrl+Shift+#

  • Format time label (hour: minute: second format AM/PM) – Ctrl+Shift+@

Format NOW using the Format menu

To use the menu options in Google Sheets to format dates or times:

  1. Select the range of cells you want to format or change;

  2. Click Format Number to select one of the most commonly used formats, or press Format Number Additional formats Additional date and time formats to open a dialog where you can specify the exact format.

  3. Make sure the cells are in the intended format.

The formats applied to dates and times with this method are the same as the format label formats.

NOW function and worksheet recalculation

The NOW() function is a member of Google Sheets’ volatile function group, which by default recalculates or updates every time the sheet they’re in.

For example, worksheets are recalculated every time they are opened or when certain events occur, such as when data is entered or changed in the worksheet, so if a date or time is entered using the NOW() function, it will continue to update.

Spreadsheet Settings, found under the File menu in Google Sheets, provides two additional options for recalculating worksheets:

  • To shift and every minute

  • In shifts and every hour

There is no way to disable the recalculation of volatile functions in the program.

Saving Static Dates and Times

If you don’t want to change the date or time permanently, use the hotkey option to enter static dates and times, including entering the date or time manually or using the following hotkeys:

  • Static date label Ctrl+; (semicolon key)

  • Static time reduction: Ctrl+Shift+: (colon key).

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