The NOW function is a simple date function used to return the value of the current day and time. The result is dynamic so it updates when you change, refresh, or reopen the Google Sheet.
The NOW function returns the date and time. If you want just the date, use the TODAY function.
If the output doesn’t look like a date, apply Date formatting by going to the Format menu, choosing Number, then choosing Date time.
You can also insert the current date and time into a cell in Google Sheets using these shortcuts. However, the values inserted with these shortcuts will not update like the NOW function’s output.
- Windows: ctl+alt+shift+;
- Mac: ⌘+option+shift+;
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 an integer for the day plus a decimal for the time, but the spreadsheet will typically display it as a date and time to the user.
Note that you need the parenthesis even though they are empty.
TODAY – Returns the current day with no time.
Example 1 – Simple Usage
Firstly, let’s look at simple examples of the NOW function.
|Outputs the current date and time (not really “now” but what the date and time was when I updated this page.)||9/20/2022 15:01:55|
|Returns the same time with tomorrow’s date.||9/21/2022 15:01:55|
Example 2 – Calculating Elapsed Time
You may raise baby chickens in your backyard and be curious about the last time you fed them, which you use a spreadsheet to track. You used this formula on the afternoon of September 20, 2022.
|1||Last feeding day||Last feeding time||Time since last feeding – Formula||Time since last feed – Result|
The value in cell
D2 is a duration instead of a time, and the Duration number formatting has been applied. Therefore, the result means 8 hours, 37 minutes, and 51 seconds instead of 8:37:51 AM or PM.
Example 3 – Six Months from Today
Now let’s get the date six months from today.
|Returns the date six months from now. Now is September 20, 2022, 4:35 pm.||3/20/2023 00:00:00|
The EDATE function takes a
start_date argument and a
months argument. With a
start_date of today’s date and a
months value of
6, EDATE returns a value six months into the future.
Notice that the EDATE function has removed the time value from the result of 3/20/2023. Therefore, using the TODAY function instead of the NOW function would return the same result since the TODAY function does not return a time.
Example 4 – Last Day of the Current Month
The NOW and EOMONTH functions can be used to find the last day of the current month.
|Returns the last day of the current month (which is September).||9/30/2022 00:00:00|
The EOMONTH function accepts
number_of_months arguments and returns the last day of the month a given
number_of_months away from its start value. In this case, we used the current date and time as the start value and specified 0 months away. Therefore, it returns the end of the current month.
As with the EDATE function in the previous example, the EOMONTH function removes the time. Using the TODAY function instead of the NOW function would produce the same result.
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.