Auto Date in Excel: How to Automatically Update Dates in Spreadsheets

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By Matthew Simpson

Auto date in Excel might sound like a fancy term, but it’s actually a super useful feature. Imagine you’re working on a project, and you need to keep track of when you last updated your data. Instead of typing in the date manually every time, Excel can do it for you automatically! Pretty cool, right? In just a few simple steps, you can set up your spreadsheet to update the date for you, saving you time and effort.

Auto Date in Excel Tutorial

Before we dive into the steps, let me give you a quick overview of what we’re about to do. By following these steps, you’ll learn how to insert the current date and time into your Excel sheet that updates automatically whenever you open the file or make changes to it. This nifty trick is perfect for tracking project timelines, deadlines, or even just organizing your daily tasks.

Step 1: Open your Excel sheet

Open the Excel sheet where you want the auto date to appear.

This is your starting point. Make sure you’re working on the correct Excel sheet to avoid any mix-ups.

Step 2: Select a cell

Click on the cell where you want the auto date to show up.

Choose a cell that’s easy to find and makes sense for your date to be displayed. It could be at the top of a column or the start of a row, depending on your data layout.

Step 3: Enter the formula

Type in the formula "=TODAY()" for the current date or "=NOW()" for the current date and time.

After typing in the right formula, hit enter, and voila! The current date or date and time will pop up in the selected cell.

Step 4: Format the cell

Format the cell to your preferred date or time style.

You can customize how the date or time looks by changing the format. Maybe you want it in a different language, or you prefer the day before the month—it’s all up to you!

After completing these steps, every time you open your Excel sheet, the cell with the auto date formula will update to the current date and time. This means you’ll always have an up-to-date reference point without having to lift a finger.

Auto Date in Excel Tips

  • Make sure your computer’s clock is set correctly, as Excel uses your system’s date and time for the auto date function.
  • If you’re sharing the Excel file with others, remind them not to overwrite the cell with the auto date formula.
  • You can use the auto date in templates for recurring reports to save even more time.
  • Remember that the "=TODAY()" formula only inserts the date, not the time. Use "=NOW()" if you need both.
  • If you want the date to stay the same and not update, use the shortcut Ctrl + ; (semicolon) to insert the current date as a static value.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between "=TODAY()" and "=NOW()"?

"=TODAY()" inserts only the current date, while "=NOW()" inserts both the current date and time.

Will the auto date update when I reopen the file on a different day?

Yes, the auto date will update to the current date and time each time you open the Excel file.

Can I use auto date in Excel on my phone?

Yes, you can use auto date in Excel on mobile devices as long as you have the Excel app installed.

What if I want the auto date to show up in a different language?

You can change the language settings in Excel to display the date in the language of your choice.

Can I stop the auto date from updating?

To prevent the auto date from updating, you need to replace the formula with a static date by using the shortcut Ctrl + ; (semicolon).


  1. Open your Excel sheet.
  2. Select the cell for the auto date.
  3. Enter "=TODAY()" for the date or "=NOW()" for date and time.
  4. Format the cell as desired.


Excel’s auto date feature is like a little magic spell for your spreadsheet. It’s simple to set up, incredibly useful, and saves you time. With just a few clicks, you can have up-to-date information at your fingertips, whether you’re tracking the progress of a project or simply organizing your daily tasks. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good Excel trick that impresses your colleagues and friends? So, go ahead, give it a try, and watch as Excel does the work for you. Remember, the key to mastering Excel is to keep exploring and learning new features, so keep experimenting and you might just discover your next favorite function!