The NOW function is a simple date function used to return the value of the current day and time. That is all it does. However, this function is useful in building dynamic formulas that use the resultant date and time when used together with other date functions available in Sheets.

Note that the NOW function returns date and time. If you want just the date, use the TODAY function which operates in the same way but returns just the date.

Purpose

The NOW function returns the value of the current day and time. As explained further in how to use dates and times in Google Sheets formulas, the value is actually an integer for the day plus a decimal for the time but will typically be displayed as a date and time to the user.

Syntax

=NOW()

Note that you need the quotes even though there should be nothing in them. The sole purpose of this is to irritate you and make you wonder why. There is no answer, just live with it!

Examples

Example 1 - Plain and Simple

A simple example of the NOW function.

Formula Description Result
=NOW() Output the current date and time (not really "now" but what today was when this was written!) 1/24/2017 6:206:24

Example 2 - Using NOW in formulas

You may be raising baby cheetahs in your front yard and be curious of the last time that you fed them which of course you use a spreadsheet to track.

Tip: Add the rounding function to display less decimals such as =ROUND((NOW()-(A2+B2),0)

This cell would be more meaningful if it were formatted using Format -> Number -> Time.
A B C D
1 Last feeding day Last feeding time Time since last feeding - Formula Time since last feed - Result
2 1/23/2017 11:25 PM =NOW()-(A2+B2) 0.2942467824

 Live examples in Sheets 

Go to this spreadsheet for the examples of the NOW function shown above that you can study and use anywhere you would like.