I am trying to import data from Excel spreadsheets where each point coordinate has a 'datetime' timestamp (e.g. "2012-06-01 14:45:32") associated to it. When I check the table properties ArcGIS 10 always recognizes the timestamp field as 'date' (i.e. "2012-06-01") and drops the time-of-the-day info.

Is there a way to import the timestamp field as a full datetime type? And if yes, how do I go about it?

  • 1
    What type of storage are you importing into? Personal GDB, File GDB, Shapefile, etc? Jun 1, 2012 at 3:02
  • That would be a Shapefile. I am using the "Create Feature Class.. > From XY Table" function in ArcCatalog
    – Tomm
    Jun 1, 2012 at 3:46
  • Found a rather disheartening forum discussion about this topic -> here
    – Tomm
    Jun 1, 2012 at 4:10
  • 2
    Tomm, shapefiles store data in dBase III/IV format. This reply describes some of the limitations: gis.stackexchange.com/a/25762/664. Clearly no date+time field can be stored as a dBase date field. Workarounds could include (i) importing into a GDB, (ii) importing the timestamps as numeric values, and (iii) creating an Excel macro to split the timestamp into a date field and a separate numeric (or string) field for the time only. (The macro--which you can create by recording your actions in one workbook--can then quickly be applied to all the workbooks.)
    – whuber
    Jun 1, 2012 at 15:00
  • To follow up on @whuber's comment, why are you importing to a shapefile instead of a File GDB or a Personal GDB? Jun 2, 2012 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


If it's a .csv file you can edit the schema.ini file so that it includes a custom date format string:

DateTimeFormat=YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:s
  • Well, I've got 15 excel files with around 3-4 worksheets each. It would be quite a nuisance if I'd had to export each worksheet to CSV first. There must be a way to tell Arcatalog to use the correct data type...
    – Tomm
    Jun 1, 2012 at 3:47

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