Use Shortcut Keys to Add the Current Date/Time in Excel

Image of a clock and a calendar to add date and time to an Excel workbook

Zamzawawi Mohd Isa / EyeEm/Getty Images

You can quickly add the current date to Excel using shortcut keys on the keyboard. In addition to being fast, when the date is added using this method, it does not change every time the worksheet is opened as it does with some of Excel's date functions.

Note The information in this article applies to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, and Excel for Mac. The shortcuts may vary between Excel for Windows and Excel for Mac.

Adding the Current Date in Excel Using Shortcut Keys

You can quickly add the current date to any cell in an Excel worksheet using a keyboard shortcut.

The key combination for adding the date in Excel is:

 Ctrl + ; (semi-colon key) 

To add the current date to a worksheet using just the keyboard:

  1. Select the cell where you want the date to appear.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the semi-colon key ( ; ) on the keyboard without releasing the Ctrl key.
  4. Release the Ctrl key.

The current date appears in the worksheet in the selected cell.

The default format for the date entered is the short date format as shown in the image above. Use another keyboard shortcut to change the format to the day-month-year format.

Update the Date

To have the date update every time the worksheet is opened, use the TODAY function.

Formatting Dates in Excel with Shortcut Keys

This Excel tip shows you how to quickly format dates using the day-month-year format (such as 01-Jan-14) in an Excel worksheet using shortcut keys on the keyboard.

The key combination for adding the date is:

 Ctrl + Shift + # (hash tag or number sign key) 

To format a date using shortcut keys:

  1. Add the date to a cell in a worksheet.
  2. If necessary, click on the cell to make it the active cell.
  3. Press and hold both the Ctrl and Shift keys on the keyboard.
  4. Press and release the hashtag key ( # ) on the keyboard without releasing the Ctrl and Shift keys.
  5. Release the Ctrl and Shift keys.

The date is formatted in the day-month-year format as shown in the image above.

Add the Current Time using Shortcut Keys

Although not as commonly used as dates in spreadsheets, adding the current time with a keyboard shortcut can be used, among other things, as a time stamp. The time does not change once entered.

The key combination for adding the time in Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007 is:

 Ctrl + Shift + : (colon key) 

To add the current time to a worksheet using just the keyboard:

  1. Select the cell where you want the time to appear.
  2. Press and hold both the Ctrl and the Shift keys on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the colon key ( : ) on the keyboard without releasing the Ctrl and Shift keys.
  4. Release the Ctrl and Shift keys.

The current time is added to the worksheet.

The key combination for adding the date in Excel 2016 for Mac and Excel for Mac 2011 is:

⌘ (command) + ; (semi-colon)

To add the current time to a worksheet using just the keyboard:

  1. Select the cell where you want the time to appear.
  2. Press and hold the Command key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the semi-colon key ( ; ) on the keyboard without releasing Command key.
  4. Release the Command key.

The current time is added to the worksheet.

Update the Time

If you want the time updated every time the worksheet is opened, use the NOW function.

Formatting Times in Excel with Shortcut Keys

This Excel tip shows you how to quickly format times in an Excel worksheet using shortcut keys on the keyboard. By default, times in Excel are formatted with the hour : minute and AM/PM format (such as 10:33 AM).

The key combination for formatting times is:

 Ctrl + Shift + @ (at symbol) 

To format the time using shortcut keys:

  1. Manually add the time to a cell in a worksheet.
  2. If necessary, select the cell to make it the active cell.
  3. Press and hold the Ctrl and Shift keys on the keyboard.
  4. Press and release the at symbol key ( @ ) on the keyboard - located above the number 2 - without releasing the Ctrl and Shift keys.
  5. Release the Ctrl and Shift keys.
  6. The time will be formatted to show the current time in the hour : minute and AM/PM format as seen in the image above.

Enter the Date and Time into a Single Cell

You can enter both the date and time in a cell using the keyboard shortcuts together.

  • Press Ctrl+; (semi-colon)
  • Press Space
  • Press Ctrl+Shift+; (semi-colon)

The date and time will both appear in the selected cell.

Custom Date and Time Formats using Shortcut Keys

Custom date and time formats in Excel

If you would like to change the format of a date or time entered in an Excel cell, you can use a keyboard shortcut to open the formatting dialog box.

The key combination for accessing the Format Cells dialog is

 Ctrl + 1 or ⌘ (command) + 1
  1. Select the cell you want to format.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key (Windows) or the Command key (Mac).
  3. Press and release the 1 key on the keyboard without releasing the Ctrl or Command key.
  4. Release the Ctrl or Command key. The Format Cells dialog box opens.
  5. Make sure you have the Number tab selected.
  6. Choose the format you want to use from the Date or Time category and select OK.