So you want Windows to show 24-hour time?

Originally published at

I spend a large part of every day shelled into cloud servers, viewing logs, checking alerts in slack channels, looking at pages on my phone, glancing at the kitchen clock as I walk by to get coffee, and otherwise behaving like a typical engineer. These activities have something in common: they all involve timestamps of one form or another and most of them are different.

Yeah, I hate time zones, and you probably do too. Our servers are on UTC military time. Our slack channel shows 12-hour local time, as does the kitchen clock and my phone. My colleagues are often reporting timestamps in their own local time, which given that we’ve been a remote team for something like forever means those might be EST, EDT, CDT, CST, PDT, PST… you get the point… moreover you’ve probably lived it just like the rest of us. I’ve considered just changing everything in my life to UTC military time but I would irritate my wife and you can’t avoid hitting a disconnect somewhere. Still, I do want to make all the on-the-fly converting I have to do as easy as possible.

The other day I was on a zoom call with my friend and colleague Aaron and I noticed that his Windows 10 desktop displayed 24-hour time. Well, I thought, that would be nice: one less step when mentally converting from a server timestamp to log times in kibana or Google Cloud console. And yes, I realize these tools can mostly be configured to show either local time or UTC, but I am not going to let my laziness cloud the point of a good story. As for why I use Windows at all, given that I spend my days working in Linux… the short answer is Steam, but that’s another tale. Anyway, I started idly poking the time settings as we talked about an entirely different thing, assuming I could just, you know, right click and then click something like “Display 24-hour time.” Ha. After a couple seconds and an increasing level of distraction from the main object of our call I gave up and mentioned it to Aaron.

He could not remember offhand how he had changed the setting, so the call went off the rails for a few mins as he poked around the same things I had been poking around, without success. We gave up and returned to what we were getting paid for. An hour or two later he figured it out and posted the solution in slack. I found it funny, and maybe a little sad, and so I am reproducing it here because, who knows, someone else out there might want to make Windows 10 show 24-hour time, and this might save them some frustration. So here we go… let’s make Windows 10 display 24-hour time!

First, right click the clock in the system tray and then click “Adjust date/time.”

This brings up the settings dialog on the “Date & time” page. It’s not very space efficient, so even on my 4k monitor I had to scroll down a bit to find “Related settings.” Once you do, click “Date, time & regional formatting.”

This brings you to the “Region” settings. Toward the bottom you’ll find “Change data formats.” Click that.

You’ll find yourself looking at the “Change data formats” page. The two settings you’re interested in are “Short time” and “Long time.”

Each of these options presents a drop down list of available formats. Go ahead and click it and tell me which one represents 24-hour/military time display. I’ll wait. Not obvious? Well it wasn’t to us either.

What you need to do is click one of the options that does not have a trailing “AM” suffixed to it. Because if it’s not AM or PM it must be mil-time, right? After making this choice accept your way back to the desktop.

Congratulations, you are now one of the apparently very few people to ever try to make Windows 10 display 24 hour time.

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