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Change Display Under the System Tray Clock in Windows 7

If you’re on the computer 18+ hours a day, you probably rely on the clock in the system tray much of the time. Although it’s often overlooked, there are different ways you can customize the area to display different time and date formats.

Everything looks normal here…however it can be annoying having to hover the mouse over the clock to display the day of the week. Yeah…yeah…how can you not know what day it is? Trust me, during a busy day you can forget a lot including your own name!

1clock

To display permanently show the day of the week or change the date and time format to something you’re more comfortable with, open Control Panel and go to Region and Language. Here you can make changes to the Date and time format how you would like it.

2clock 

Click on Additional Settings and under the Date tab select the date and time formats you would like to see. Notice What the notations mean… You can change it to some thing in the dropdown menu or you can type in what you want.

5clock

There are a lot of different combinations and formats you can create. You might want to try different formats and see what works best for you. For this example I entered in dddd/M/d/yyyy so I can see the day of the week all the time without hovering the mouse over the clock.

6clock

Or maybe you just want the day of the week and the time only…

7clock

This may seem like a minor tweak to your computer, but it can be quite effective in helping you get things done easier. Sometimes it just comes down to “the little things”.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/20/10

Comments (23)

  1. WLabrador

    This is a really neat trick, thanks a lot.. For some reason unknown to me I couldn’t get the day of the week in full lenght (dddd), when i clicked Apply it only showed me the time, as in previous Windows versions, however, I tried with short day of the week (ddd) and worked just fine. Thanks!

  2. Aethec

    If you have small icons on the taskbar, you can control the width of the clock this way.
    For example, my “Short date” format is set to “j” to have more space for apps in the taskbar.

  3. Doug

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned was that the taskbar needs to be resized so that all of the text can be displayed. To do this, right-click on the taskbar and make sure that the ‘Lock the taskbar’ is not checked. Then, click and hold and drag the upper border of the taskbar until it displays the info the way you like it.

  4. Garry

    You can simply resize the taskbar and the date will appear automatically.

    You don’t have to reformat the date unless you want to. This works in XP & Win7. (I haven’t tried Vista.)

    If the taskbar then takes up too much room try autohide.

  5. RottNKorpse

    This only works when the taskbar height is left as default or made larger. I am all about screen real-estate so I always make the taskbar as small as possible and when I do it turns the Date and Time to just Time.

    This would be great if there was a way to make the Date and Time on a single line instead of the double line like it is by default. Since there isn’t this is unusable for me. Thanks for the tip as I knew there was a way to do it but never bothered to look since the Date and Time function in the Control Panel doesn’t do anything remotely like this…lol you would think they wouldn’t have a section in the CP for something that doesn’t do hardly anything since they’ve become so user-friendly.

  6. sbt48

    Many thank you’s for this particular column. Have had Windows 7 for just a few weeks and the clock/ date display was making me nuts. Had I not read your column, would never have known how to fix the display and it was making me freak.

    Your devoted fan,

    Susan Traiman

    PS: I am a devoted reader, especially now.

  7. Petal

    What is driving me crazy is that I can only see the time on my taskbar and have to hover over it to see the date. On hubbys laptop it shows the date with time under it and his taskbar is about the same size as mine. In other words I know I can unlock and pull up the taskbar and it will show me the date but what it is also doing is showing me the day of the week and putting it on to three lines which is way too wide.

    I just don’t understand why my taskbar only shows the time and hubbys shows the date and time over two lines and his task bar appears no wider than mine!!!

  8. scatman

    how can i make this perminent?
    i mean i always switch my laptop’s languange from english to french and arabic (just for testing programs that support different language) and everytime i switch to a different language a reset for the date format takes place. how can i perminently save the date and time settings to a specific language?

  9. Karza

    Does anyone know if the systray clock could show the on going week? Like when the years first week is 1 and so on.

  10. Joren

    Petal: right-click on the taskbar and choose Properties. Near the top you can uncheck “Use small icons” and then the taskbar should display the full clock & time without the day of the week.

    Personally, I much prefer it with small icons on, but I’ll try to get used to these oversized icons so I can see the date… Really wish I could put date info in the clock field, or have a checkbox to put them side-by-side.

  11. Carolyn

    Joren,

    Your comment was greatly appreciated. I made the changes and I could not get them to show up. Unchecking the small icons worked perfectly. Much more user friendly with the day and date showing. Thanks.

  12. enipeas

    Can you please tell me the way to see only the time and not the date? Thank you.

  13. Janina

    Sorry,
    I am obviously doing something wrong.
    I cannot get my system XP or Win7 to do what is shown here even following all the directions and the different tips – none work for me.
    The best I get is 3 lines
    Time 00:27
    Day Tuesday
    date & Month eg dd mmm 31 Aug
    and have tried lots of combinations and it will not change. Icons are small, Cant find where I cant make the date field wider? This would solve the problem as who want a 1 inch wide toolbar?
    Hope someone can help

  14. Tim

    For XP a better program to display time including the seconds, offering choices of fonts, sizes, colors and format options is TClockEx. Sadly this program does not work in Windows 7, which is a step backwards…the “no choice allowed” utilitarian and sparse clock display in Windows 7 is not an improvement!

  15. Kelly

    Tim is correct – TClockEx is AWESOME and I have used it for many years….until I upgraded to Win7. Now, the system tray clock sucks. I’m using small icons because I don’t want a 12-foot tall task bar. The problem is, as everyone is noticing, the clock width/components isn’t configurable.
    Sucks. I guess I’ll have to write some code to break it and FIX IT the way it should be.

  16. melanie

    The problem with this method is that if you change the short date format to suit what you want in your system clock, you’re also going to be getting that format right through any applications that use the short date too, and that can be a pain in the rear! Got a solution to that?

  17. Matt

    I want to change the look all together. For example, I want to change the colors or shapes. There was a program for Vista but not W7 so far that I can find. Any ideas?

  18. Jer

    Microsoft is showing signs of senile dementia. When they changed the name of the Tray (one syllable) to “System Notification Area” (10 syllables) I said why? Then when they told me I could display the date the way I want to by using ddd’s and mmm’s and yyy’s I said great and did that, whereupon the date promptly disappeared because it’s way too big for the Tray — oops, I mean System Notification Area. I said great, I’ll just drag the size of the System Notification Area to accommodate the bigger date, but you can no longer drag it horizontally, you can only drag the task bar vertically, which makes it look too big and gobbles up my expensive screen area, and also rearranges things in a way I don’t want. Finally, they let me add seconds to my clock display, but then refuse adamantly to display such seconds, because they say it interferes with performance. Hmm…are they doing these things on purpose to convince me to go to Linux?

  19. andrew

    I’ve been using TClockEx too, but since WinXP I moved to 1st Clock, that supports Win7 as well. It lets you put whatever you want into the clock and use any colors/fonts and what’s important, it respects Aero transparency. Newest ver gives you multiple clocks for several time zones.

  20. HG

    TClockEx works just fine with Win 7 Pro – speaking for myself anyway :-)

  21. Jonny Rowntree

    Just got a new Windows 7 laptop today and I’ve been looking for this. Lifesaver!

  22. Dimitris

    Why the seconds does not displaying into the time timestamp right down ? i have the HH:mm:ss setted and does work the :ss why?

  23. Isaac

    The key to show date without hovering over it, is to make the icon normal size, instead of small size

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