Timestamps are useful for a variety of reasons, including helping to know when edits were made, tasks completed, or documents printed, to name a few. If you’re trying to work quickly in Google Sheets, it can be frustrating to have to manually check the time and then type it in each time you want to add a timestamp, but fortunately there are some shortcuts you can use to more quickly add timestamps in Google Sheets
Keyboard Shortcut method
Under most circumstances, the keyboard shortcut method is the best way to timestamp in Google Sheets because its’ quick and easy and remains a static, unchanging record of the exact time the timestamp was added.
Here’s how to timestamp using this method:
Select the cell you want to insert the timestamp in
If you’re using Windows, hold down the CTRL and SHIFT keys and hit the ; key (that’s a semicolon)
If you’re using a Mac, hold down CMD and SHIFT and hit the ; key (semicolon)
The current time will be inserted into the selected cell and the cell’s number format will be converted to the default time format for your region.
If you need to record the date as well as the time, there’s a keyboard shortcuts for that:
Windows: Control + Alt + Shift + ;
Mac: Command + Option + Shift + ;
This method is essentially a shortcut for typing the timestamp manually. The resulting timestamp contains no formulas and will never change automatically like timestamps using the next method, so it’s ideal for keeping records
NOW() Function Method
In some cases, you’ll want a timestamp that updates automatically to the current time. This is particularly useful on a spreadsheet that is printed and sent to colleagues or clients periodically. Adding a timestamp using the NOW() function will ensure the timestamp is always up to date and shows the exact time the spreadsheet was printed
Here’s how to use the NOW() function:
Click on the cell you want to timestamp and type the following formula: “=NOW()”, then hit enter
The current date and time will display in the cell, and update every few seconds to the current date/time
Note that using this type of timestamp in any calculations is generally a bad idea as it updates frequently and can cause your spreadsheet to slow down by repeatedly performing the same calculation when the current second changes
Example Spreadsheet: Make a copy of the example spreadsheet
In this tutorial, I covered how to timestamp in Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.