Since the dawn of OS X, I’ve been annoyed that, while the time still shows in the menu bar, the date does not. I suppose there’s some utility out there that takes care of that, but I’m all about the built-in OS capabilities, especially when it come to writing about techniques for others to use.
I played with the Time and Date settings many times, hoping for a way to get that date in the menu bar (instead of just in a dropdown menu from the time-who wants to mouse up and click on the time to get the date?), and finally (accidentally) found the missing step in the procedure.
1. Open the International Preference Pane (Apple menu » System Preferences), and click the Format tab.
2. Click Customize in the Date area, and customize the date to the way you want it (best keep it brief, not “Saturday, May 23, 2009”).
3. Drag across the elements in field where you’ve constructed the date, selecting all the blue ovals, and Command-C to copy them.
4. Close the Customize Date dialog.
5. Click Customize in the Time area. Here’s the part that I’ve missed all these years, and no wonder, what with the stupid constraint: select Medium from the Show menu in dialog. Now, I don’t know about you, but my Medium default includes seconds, an element that doesn’t show on my laptop menu bar without going to the Date & Time pref pane to turn it on. But, no matter: Click at the end of field that shows the Time format, and paste in the Date format that you copied. [editing note: original post, to which Andy replied, swapped references to”Time format” and “Date format”… gee, only a slightly misleading typo.]
6. Set the formatting the way you want it by dragging the appropriate blue lozenges into the format field; when I added the date, I took away the space between the minutes and the AM/PM element, but I also made the AM/PM lowercase since it was butting up against the time. Type at least one space between your time elements and the date elements – maybe even type two spaces.
The two very odd things about working with this preference pane is that adding the date doesn’t seem to affect the menu bar unless you use the Medium setting from the Show menu, which makes absolutely no sense at all. (Spock would be rolling over in his grave at the illogic of it… wait, did he die in another movie? Or, even if he did, can we not say he’s dead because the upcoming one shows him not only alive, but as a young man?)
The second odd thing is not the inability to show the seconds as a time element when you set them from the International pane… that’s a bug, not an oddity; I’ve tried several machines/screens, and I’ve tried clearing the menu bar of other items, to no avail. No, the second odd thing is the interaction between this and the Date & Time preference pane. Unless you check the Show AM/PM box in the Clock tab of the Date & Time preference pane, no amount of time formatting in the International pane is going to put those markers in your menu bar! Same goes for the seconds in the time readout: edit all you want in International, but without the OK from Date & Time, you don’t see the seconds.