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# Excel TODAY Function: How to get Today’s Date

Excel is one of the top spreadsheet applications for data management and analysis. Its range of powerful formulas and statistical tools, which allow users to perform complex calculations and help with reporting, make It the top choice for many business people.

Among those functions, TODAY is an extremely useful tool for anyone who needs to work with dates. It is a powerful tool that returns the current date whenever the spreadsheet is opened.

You can use the TODAY function to track timelines, generate dynamic reports, and manage schedules.

In this article, we will learn Excel TODAY Function.

Make sure you read the article till the end because we are about to discuss the TODAY function syntax, steps to use, and combine it with other functions like the YEAR and MONTH to create complex formulas.

## Download Example Excel Sheet

Here is the Excel Sheet with all the datasets we used to demonstrate the TODAY function. I suggest downloading the file and following me as I walk you through the article.

Click Here To Download!

It will surely improve your knowledge and skills in handling dates in Excel. If you have your own dataset ready, skip downloading the above file.

## Explained: The TODAY Function in Excel

The TODAY function in Excel returns today’s date. It gets updated continuously when a worksheet is opened or recalculated.

The general syntax of the TODAY function is as follows,

No arguments are required for the TODAY function. You can simply type in the above formula, and it will display the current date. Note that if you try to put something inside the brackets or in the place of the blank argument, the function won’t work, and the error will return.

You may wonder how the function displays the current date. The secret is that Excel takes inputs from the device’s date and time settings for the function to work.

## Difference between the TODAY and NOW functions in Excel

The TODAY and NOW functions serve almost the same purpose. The TODAY function returns the current day, whereas the NOW function produces the current date along with the time.

In simple words, the NOW function generates a timestamp that contains the current date and time.

The General Syntax of the NOW function is as follows,

``=NOW()``

This function doesn’t need any arguments to work. It takes input from the device’s time and date settings.

The NOW function is the perfect substitute for the TODAY function. You can create any combination of formulas using the TODAY function and can often use the NOW function to provide similar results. However, note that there will be a difference in the time component.

## How to use the TODAY function in Excel

Let’s discuss the functionality of the TODAY function using an example. The function is pretty straightforward, and anyone can use it without any prior Excel experience.

Our task is to generate today’s date using the TODAY formula.

Let’s begin,

• Open the desired Excel spreadsheet
• Type “=TODAY
• Select the first option from the popup or press Tab” on your keyboard
• Close the brackets using “)
• Press the “Enter” button on your keyboard

Boom! After entering the formula, Excel will instantly display today’s date. It is that simple!

### What is another way to access the TODAY function?

Instead of entering the formula manually, you can insert the formula from the main menu.

For that, follow the steps below,

• Click on the desired cell
• Hover to the main menu and click on “Formulas” tab
• Select “Insert Function
• A new dialog box, “Insert Function”, will appear on the screen, in which you will have to search for your desired formula and click on the “GO” button as shown below
• After selecting the function, you will be prompted to enter the arguments
(Since the TODAY function has no arguments, you will see a dialog box as shown below)
• Click on the “OK” button
• Now, the formula has been entered into the cell
• Press “Enter” on your keyboard

This is a lengthy way of accessing the TODAY function. I prefer using the first method, where we select the cell and start typing the formula. As both methods lead to the same results, we prefer typing the formula manually.

It is one of the shortest functions in Excel that doesn’t require any argument to work.

If you are comfortable using the keyboard shortcuts, you can press “Alt + M + E” to open the INSERT function dialog box and then select the TODAY function.

Here is what the output looks like,

The date generated by the TODAY function follows the default date format (“mm-dd-yyyy”), which depends upon system configurations.

If you wish to change the default date format, refer to the next section of the article.

## How to change the Date format in Excel

As mentioned, the date format obtained using the DATE function is “mm/dd/yyyy” (As I am in the United States, the default date format is month, day, and then year).

Now, let’s learn how to change this default date format. There are two methods. In the following section, we will discuss them one by one.

### METHOD #1: Right-click Method

This is the quickest method to change the default date format.

Let’s begin,

• Select all the cells containing the dates
• Right-click on the selected cells
• Click on the “Format Cells” option from the popup
• A “Format Cells” dialog box will be opened, as shown below
(You can also use the keyboard shortcut “CTRL + 1” to open the “Format cells” dialog box)
• Click on the “Number” tab
• From the list of categories on the left, select the “Date” option
• You will see different date formats displayed on the right. Choose the date format that you prefer
• Press the “OK” button once you are done

If you don’t find a format that suits your needs, you can create a custom date format by selecting “Custom” from the list of categories on the left.

You can enter the custom date format in the “Type “ box, as shown in the screenshot above.

### Method #2 – Ribbon Method

The second method is comparatively lengthy or tedious compared to the previous one discussed above.

Note that both methods are pretty straightforward. They don’t require any expert knowledge.

• Select all the cells containing the dates
• Go to the “Home” tab from the main menu
• Find the “Number” section as shown below and click on the “Datedropdown
• Next, choose the “More Number Formats” option from the list
• A “Format Cells” dialog box will appear on your screen, as shown below
• Locate the “Number” tab at the top, followed by the “Date” option in the category section on the left-hand side
• You can choose the date format you prefer from the list
• Once you finish, click on “OK” to apply the changes

## How to change the default update time for the TODAY function

The TODAY function in Excel automatically updates its value each time you make some changes to the data or open the worksheet. Here is a way to decide when and how often the worksheet should recalculate the output of the DATE function.

Note that this method allows you to set Excel to manual calculation mode so that the date will update only when you manually trigger a recalculation.

• Hover over to the main menu and click on the “Formulas” tab
• Next, click on the “Calculation Options” dropdown
• Select the “Manual” option from the list

Note that you need to press the “F9” button on your keyboard to recalculate the output.

You can use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + ;” to insert the current date as a value that won’t change.

## FAQs

### Q. How do I get the current date in Excel automatically without using the formula?

The TODAY and NOW functions in Excel are used to get the current date and timestamp (both date and time), respectively. But if you don’t wish to use any formulas, then you can just select the cell and press “Ctrl + ;” on your keyboard.

### Q. Which function returns today’s date and current time in Excel?

The NOW function in Excel derives the current date and time. It returns the result in the timestamp format, i.e., “mm-dd-yyyy HH:MM.”

### Q. Is there an Excel formula for the current time?

There is no particular formula to get the current time. You can use the NOW function to get the current date and time.

If you want just the current time, Combine the NOW with TEXT function as shown below,

``=TEXT(NOW(), “HH:MM:SS AM/PM”)``

It will display only the current time in hours, minutes, and seconds with AM/PM.

## To Summarize: Excel TODAY Function

The TODAY function in Excel is a very useful tool for users who depend on the current date to prepare reports or analyze datasets.

Using the TODAY function is easy. The output will be automatically updated each time the user opens or recalculates your worksheet.

Go for the NOW function to get both the current date and time. It is very similar to the TODAY function but generates a timestamp.

Feel free to comment below if you are stuck somewhere or need any help using the TODAY function. Our team is always here to help you.

Also, make sure to explore our blog section for more tips and tricks on using Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets like a pro.