How to Add the Date to the Menu Bar in Mac OS X

Jun 23, 2014 - 12 Comments

finder-icon You can customize the menu bar clock that appears in the upper right corner of your Mac to include more than just the current time, and one of the more useful things to add is the current date. This is particularly helpful in OS X because unless you have the Calendar app open all the time, you have to actually click on the clock to pull down into the menu to see the date and day of the week on Mac.

The date and time shown in the menu bar of Mac OS X

Show the Current Date in the Mac Menu Bar

Modern versions of OS X make this customization very simple, and the current date will appear alongside the current time. Here’s all you need to do enable this:

  1. Head to the  Apple menu and open System Preferences
  2. Go to the “Date & Time” preference panel and then choose the “Clock” tab
  3. Toggle the box next to “Show Date” to instantly enable the date to appear in the menu bar
  4. Exit out of System Prefs if satisfied

Show date in the menu bar of Mac OS X

Toggling that box will make the date appear instantly:

Date in the menu bar of Mac OS X

As you can see, the date appears alongside the clock, but the actual day of the week name is shortened by default to better fit within the Mac menu bar. The year also does not appear by default. If you feel like it, you can change that (and other options like adding emoji to stylize the clock a bit) by visiting the “Language & Region” preference panel and poking around in the Advanced options.

Another option is to install a third party app like Day-O, which puts a full Calendar into the menu bar of OS X, a feature which is so useful that frankly, it should be built into the Mac menu bar by default.

This is the same in any modern incarnation of Mac OS X, from 10.6 onward through OS X Yosemite 10.10. But of course we’re not going to overlook old versions, so if you’re still in the older generations you can still make this customization…

Adding the Date to the Menu Bar in Prior OS X Versions

This is adopted from an article published a while back, it’s included here because it’s still relevant to some Mac users with older machines:

The Finder icon of Mac OS X Depending on what version of OS X you are running, the exact parameters might be a little different but it’s the same concept. In fact, prior versions of OS X doesn’t put the option in the Date & Time prefs at all. Instead, really old versions need to launch the System Preferences, and then visit the “International” preference pane, followed by the ‘Formats’ tab… next click the “Customize” button in the Times pane. Similarly, to show the Date in the active format, extract the Date info from the International -> Formats -> Dates pane. Here you can alter the appearance of the Time format, add the date (in a format you specify), or add a custom message.

The “International” formats also allows for some further customization to the menu bar clock item though by choosing the customize button. You can either paste in the items you want to show, or you can even add in static text if you want to, like “OSXDAILY Rules!” or something to that effect. The end result can really be anything you want.

Emoji in the menu bar clock

Thanks for the tip idea Steve!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

12 Comments

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  1. It does not work. I have a MacBook with OS X 10.4.8 and I followed the instructions actually as specified and I still have the regular clock info.

  2. Charles says:

    I do not recommend this “trick” at all because this will affect the date format for files in Finder.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    You have to set the values you want to see in International -> Formats -> Times section (not the dates section) -> Show:Medium. Only medium will affect the display.

    Also, this has no effect on the date format for files in Finder.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    Two more things. Copy and paste values from the Date section into the Times section. If the day of the week shows up, turn it off in the Date & Time preference.

  5. It’s interesting how many people never actually customize their OS X menubar clock. When I configure new systems, I always setup the clock to show the date, and the time with seconds. I especially setup servers to show the time ticking so that I can know quickly if my remote desktop connection is lagging.

    • Paul says:

      That’s a great trick! Do you just watch to see if the clocks stop syncing to look for lag? Or do you always expect some lag with the time ticking on the remote server?

  6. Antonio says:

    month and day are shown in the calendar icon without open calendar Application.

  7. Frank Berman says:

    The Date on the Menu Bar will only show the in the US format of Day of the Week, Month, Day. Most of the World uses Day Month Year.

    It would be nice if Apple did some work on this and catered for the millions of non-US users.

    • Jason says:

      This is easy to fix (and has been part of Apple since way before OS X). Change your Region to match your location – for example change it to United Kingdom and the clock now shows Wed 25 Jun.

      It will give you examples of the time and date formats for your region below when you select your new Region.

      Interestingly enough, I found this using the Help menu.

  8. Jason says:

    I was using my Win7 desktop for a bit today and instinctively clicked on my clock for a calendar to check what day a date landed on.

    Got to thinking, I wish my Mac’s clock did this. Ten seconds with Google later, Day-O is now my clock and my computer is now one more task more efficient for me.

  9. Cris says:

    I recommend Acalendar (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acalendar/id538592555?mt=12) it has a nice design and you can customize the menu date format.

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