NOW Function in Excel – Shiksha Online

NOW Function in Excel – Shiksha Online

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Rashmi
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Mar 3, 2023 13:33 IST

The article covers the NOW function in MS Excel. It is in continuation to the MS Excel basic functions series.

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NOW Function is one of the most straightforward MS Excel functions to use. It is a function without arguments because it consults the computer information at the exact moment at which the Enter key is pressed. To use the NOW function in Excel, you only have to enter the NOW formula and the parentheses. After pressing the Enter key, the current time and date will appear in the cell where you write the function.

Content

What is NOW Function in Excel?

So the question is – what does the NOW function return? The NOW function returns the current date and time. This function has no arguments since it queries the computer information at the exact moment we press the Enter key.

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How Do You Use the NOW Function In Excel?

To be able to use the NOW function in Excel, it is enough to enter its name and the parentheses of the formula. The NOW formula in Excel is – 

=NOW()

The next question is – How to insert the NOW function in Excel. Let’s understand this by using some interesting examples –

Example 1 – NOW Function

To check the current date and time, start typing =NOW(). Press enter, you can immediately see the current date and time in the cell

  • The NOW formula does not take any argument. It needs only empty parentheses. It returns the value, which is a serial number representing a particular date and time in Excel.
  • The information will have a dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm format, and we can check it by right-clicking on the cell and selecting the Format Cells option:
  • The default format of the NOW formula shows only the hours and minutes, but if we also want to show the seconds returned by the formula, we must use a different custom format.
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Example 2 – NOW Function

If you want to check the +/- days from the current date, here is how you can do it.

Here I want to check the date 7 days before. I will subtract the number of days I want to go back.

Start typing =NOW()-7. 

Press enter

Similarly, if I want to check the date 7 days after, I will add 7 to =NOW()

Example 3 – Time NOW Formula in Excel 

To see the Time functions in Excel, we can override the custom cell format:

dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm:ss

With this new format, the cell will show the exact second that the NOW formula was entered. If you want just the time, we have a different way to do it- 

You will get the below data. Go to Number Format on the Ribbon and choose Time.

Once you click on Time, you will get the current time.

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Function Result Updation

You must be aware that the result of the NOW formula will be updated every time Excel recalculates the formulas in the sheet. 

For example, when you enter any other formula in the Excel sheet or double click the cell where you have time, the calculation of the NOW formula will be performed again, and therefore, the result will be updated with the new system date and time and it will display the current date and time.

Here I just double-clicked the cell with time mentioned on it and all the cells got updated.

Another way to update the result of the NOW formula is by pressing the F9 key. To keep the original value returned by the NOW formula, you must copy its value (and not the formula) so that it is no longer updated.

Things to Remember 

  • Time is a part of a date value and is represented by a decimal number. 12:00 PM is represented as 0.5 when you use the NOW formula, as it represents half of a day
  • Excel handles dates as numbers. You can format the date later.
  • The serial number of an Excel date represents the number of days elapsed from January 1, 1900, to a given date.
  • Every time you recalculate the sheet, the NOW formula will update the time. When you modify a cell and press F9, file it will give you the current date and time.

Conclusion

The NOW formula is helpful to perform calculations with the current date or when you need to automatically update the date of the day in question when you open the Excel file. I hope this tutorial helped in clearing the concepts of the NOW function.


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About the Author
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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio