I am trying to populate a field with the current time. Here is what I tried that did not work:

Start editing
Open Attribute Table
Add Field -> Name: time
    Type: Date
Right Click on Field Name (time)
    Open FieldCalculator
        Parser: Python
        Type: Date

Then I basically tried all of these expressions:


That gives me the date, not the time

datetime.datetime.now( )

That gave me DATE and TIME. But as soon as I saved the changes, the time disappears.

(If the time would stay there I could do something with the FieldCalculator to populate another column like !time![:x])


That gave me <Null>.

Am I missing a step or something?

  • Try time.strftime('%H:%M') to get hours and minutes? (Python documentation on strftime)
    – Erica
    Aug 13, 2014 at 14:04
  • That worked sort of. In the edit session it gave me the current time, but as soon as I quit the edit session and save the changes, it sets everything to 12AM
    – four-eyes
    Aug 13, 2014 at 14:06
  • @Erica sorry, didnt link you in my comment
    – four-eyes
    Aug 13, 2014 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


The date field stores the full date. It is your system (combined with the type of database) that defines how a date will be displayed.

if you want to store a string with the time using your own format, you can use a text field, then something like

str(datetime.datetime.now( )).split()[1]

will work, or, better, directly use the date formatting from strftime. In your case, H for hours and M for minutes, optionnally S for seconds




Note that an

  • thanks. the str(datetime.datetime.now( )).split()[1] works fine. But the time.strftime('%H:%M') does not work. See my comment on my question.
    – four-eyes
    Aug 13, 2014 at 14:09
  • what kind of database did you use ? I could not reproduce your problem in a gdb.
    – radouxju
    Aug 14, 2014 at 5:51
  • I tried to perform the operation on a table in a shapefile. ArcGis for Desktop 10.2.2
    – four-eyes
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:49

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