How to Add the Current Time to Google Sheets

Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to add the current time to Google Sheets.

How to Add the Current Time to Google Sheets

Have you ever wondered how to add the current time to Google Sheets?

Adding the current time to your spreadsheet allows you to make calculations that are updated to the current time.

For example, you might have a spreadsheet that keeps track of orders and you want to highlight orders made in the past 12 hours. We’ll need to know the current time to know whether an order is within these 12 hours.

Luckily, Google Sheets includes a function called NOW that automatically returns a datetime value equal to the current time.

In this guide, we will explain how to use the NOW function to add the current time to Google Sheets.

How to Insert Current Time to Google Sheets

Here’s how to insert the current time to Google Sheets.

Step 1

First, select the cell you want to add the current time to.

In this example, we’ll place the current time in cell B2.

Step 2

Type the formula “=NOW()” to input the current time in the selected cell.

Do note that the NOW function will always display the current date and time the last time the spreadsheet was recalculated. It will not maintain the same value from the first calculation.

The user should also be aware that using the NOW function may impact spreadsheet performance since the cell essentially updates when any changes are made.

Step 3

We can use the TEXT function to apply a specific number formatting.

For example, if we use the formatting “HH:MM:SS”, the output will only display the time and will not include the current date.

Step 4

Users may also click on the number formatting shortcut in the toolbar to adjust the number formatting.

For example, we can add the ‘Time’ formatting to convert our timestamp value into a 12-hour time format

Step 5

As mentioned earlier, the NOW function automatically updates whenever changes are made to the spreadsheet.

However, there are some workarounds to this. We can change the way the document calculates formulas throught the Settings menu.

We can access this menu by selecting File > Settings.

Step 6

In the Calculation tab, you can choose how Google Sheets recalculates formulas such as NOW and TODAY.

Users can choose to either have the sheet recalculate the NOW function strictly when changes are made or to also automatically update every minute or hour.

Step 7

We can also use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + ; or Cmd + Shift + ; to add the current time to Google Sheets.

A limitation of this method is that the value does not update.


This guide should be everything you need to add the current time to Google Sheets.

You may make a copy of this example spreadsheet to test it out on your own.