Q. Is there a quick way to enter dates and times in an Excel spreadsheet?
A. To enter the current date, select a cell and press Ctrl+; (that’s Ctrl and then the semicolon). To enter the current time, use Ctrl+: (the colon).
These shortcuts work even when you are entering formulas. For instance, let’s say you wanted to have today’s date as a string (within quote marks) in a formula. Enter your formula, up to the first quote mark, type Ctrl+; and the date appears in the formula. Type your closing quote mark, and continue with your formula.
However, if you’re going to use the time shortcut, be sure the internal clock on your computer is correct, because they are notorious for losing or gaining time. I once had a nifty little program that measured the drift error rate and then automatically corrected the time whenever I booted up. Unfortunately, I accidentally left that application behind in a discarded computer and haven’t been able to replace it. If anyone knows of a similar program, please let me know and I’ll share it in this column.
To obtain the exact time in your time zone, go to www.time.gov/timezone .
If you want to automatically synchronize the exact time with your computer’s internal clock, go to http://winfiles.cnet.com/apps/98/clock.html . The site contains many shareware and freeware programs that do the job.