Favorite Mac Hacks: Add the Date to the Menu Bar

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Joined: 02/12/2009

In OS X's "Date and Time" System Preference pane, you can add the time and date to the menu bar. But, until OS 10.6, you could only put the day of the week ("Tue") not the day of the month ("March 27th"). Here's how to have it all (and how to further customize it in OS 10.6):

For OS 10.5 and earlier, look for the Formats tab in the System Preference "International." In OS 10.6, it's in the System Preference "Language and Text."

Click on the Customize button in the Dates section and then configure your preferred date format.

For example, I like it to look like this:
Thu Jan 5, 7:08:09PM

...so I configure it like this (The day of the week is provided by the setting in the Date/Time System Preference pane):

Note that you can abbreviate the month by clicking on it to reveal a pop-up menu of variations (January vs Jan etc).


"Select that format and copy it to the Clipboard (Edit: Copy). CANCEL out of that dialog.

Then click on Customize in the Times section; choose Medium from the Show pop-up menu (in OS 10.6 there are separate fields for each) and then paste (Edit: Paste) your date format into the time format field. Assuming you’ve enabled the option to show the date and time in the menu bar (in the Date & Time pane of System Preferences), that display will now include the date!"

You should see the time/date in the menu relaunch itself. It seems that this overrides the "flash the time separators" setting in the Date/Time System Preference pane.

More here:

That article also mentions a shareware application, MagiCal, but personally I prefer to do it manually and keep my system add-ons to a minimum. There are more shareware methods too.