Ensuring that your Mac displays the correct date and time is important for several reasons. Most obviously, an incorrect time could cause you to be late—or early—for an appointment, event, or some other engagement. Additionally, an incorrect date could have you showing up somewhere on the completely wrong day. But other issues can arise, too.
For example, if your Mac’s date and time is incorrect, you may experience problems installing apps, downloading software updates, and performing other online tasks. Fortunately, the fix is simple. Let’s discuss how to troubleshoot date and time issues in macOS.
1. Choose to Automatically Set the Date and Time in the Preferences
If you’re new to macOS, you might not know where to go to change the date and time settings on your Mac. If that’s the case, fixing the date and time could be as simple as tweaking this option in the System Preferences. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
- Select Date & Time.
- Click the Security Padlock and enter your administrator’s password to unlock changes.
- Enable the option to Set Date and Time automatically.
2. Use an Alternate Server to Automatically Set the Date and Time
When you opt to set the date and time automatically, macOS should pull the correct information from an Apple server. Generally, the results are accurate. However, sometimes server issues or miscommunication can cause your Mac to display incorrect information.
When this happens, you don’t have to rely solely on Apple to provide the correct date and time. Instead, you can experiment by adding alternate servers and seeing if you get different results.
Here’s how to change the date and time server in macOS:
- Go to System Preferences > Date & Time.
- Ensure that Set date and time automatically is ticked and unlock the Security Padlock.
- Delete the current entry and enter a new time server.
Here’s a short list of public time servers you can try:
Plenty of other public time servers are available, so you can experiment with different options until you get the expected results. However, if the problem persists, something else may be causing the issue.
3. Enable Location Services to Automatically Set the Correct Time Zone
Using Location Services is one of the simplest and most effective ways to automatically set the correct date and time, specifically the time zone. If you have the feature switched on and the information is accurate, macOS should automatically adjust settings to match your current position in the world. It’ll even update seasonal changes in your time zone, like daylight saving time.
Here’s how to set date and time by location:
- Go to System Preferences > Date & Time > Time Zone.
- Unlock the Security Padlock.
- Tick Set time zone automatically using current location.
If macOS displays a message that says Turn on Location Services to determine your current location, you can do exactly that by following these steps:
- Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy.
- Select Location Services in the side menu and unlock the Security Padlock.
- Ensure that Enable Location Services is ticked.
- Scroll down to System Services and click Details.
- Ensure that Time Zone & System Customization is ticked.
When you go back to your Date & Time preferences, macOS may still display a message prompting you to turn on Location Services. If so, simply unticking and then re-ticking the Set time zone automatically box should resolve the issue.
If, however, the automatic option isn’t working or providing accurate results, you can disable the feature and manually drop a pin on the correct location. Because you can’t zoom in on the map, hitting the right city can be difficult. Therefore, you may need to use the Closest city dropdown menu to select the correct location.
4. Use the Correct Region to Automatically the Set Date and Time
Date and time issues can occur if your Mac is set to the wrong region. Thankfully, changing this setting is simple. Here’s how to change the region in macOS:
- Go to System Preferences > Language & Region > General.
- Select the correct country using the dropdown menu for Region.
From here, you can also make other changes that relate to date and time, such as switching to a 24-hour format. If you want even more control over how macOS displays your clock or calendar, you can click the Advanced button and select either the Dates or Times tab. With these preference panels, you can fully customize your date and time formats.
5. Manually Set Your Mac’s Date and Time
When all automatic options fail, setting the date and time manually may be the best solution. However, this method comes with several drawbacks. If something or someone causes your manual setting to fall out of sync with the real date and time, no automatic correction will take place. If a problem does occur, you’ll first need to notice it and then manually correct it yourself.
Also, crossing borders into different regions may cause issues if you don’t remember to change your settings. On top of that, if you’re in a location that uses daylight saving time, your clock won’t automatically adjust at the right times of year, and you’ll end up living an hour behind or ahead of everyone else.
But if the automatic options aren’t working and you don’t want to perform additional troubleshooting, a manual adjustment may be the best remedy.
Here’s how to manually set date and time in macOS:
- Go to System Preferences > Date & Time > Date & Time.
- Untick Set date and time automatically.
- Use the calendar to select the correct date.
- Enter the correct time in the digital display box or drag the analog clock hands to the correct positions.
- Click Save.
When you’re ready to try the automatic option again, you can enable Set date and time automatically and see if the issue has resolved itself. If not, you may need to try additional troubleshooting.
Other Date and Time Troubleshooting Tips
If the more specific date and time troubleshooting tips didn’t work, you may need to take a more generalized approach. Here are some other steps you can take to fix macOS date and time issues when all else fails:
- Restart your Mac: Sometimes a simple restart is all you need to solve an issue.
- Update software: If macOS allows you to access the update server, updating your software may fix the problem.
- Safe boot: Although unlikely, third-party software could be causing your date and time woes. Therefore, booting into safe mode should temporarily solve the issue and help identify any rogue applications.
- Try a different network: While network issues are another unlikely cause, connecting to an alternate Wi-Fi source or personal hotspot may solve the problem.
Getting the Correct Date and Time Is Important
When you don’t know the correct date or time, you fall out of sync with everyone else, and you can only ever be too late or too early. The automatic option in macOS is ideal for most situations, as it allows you to jump time zones, adhere to daylight saving, and always display the correct information. However, when the macOS clock doesn’t function as expected, the steps we’ve covered are usually enough to solve the issue.
If, however, you believe that time is merely a construct of the human mind and doesn’t exist in objective reality, troubleshooting probably isn’t necessary.
The 10 Best Time Zone Converters for Global Remote Teams
About The Author