This section explains how to determine the current time and time zone.
Many functions like
return Lisp timestamp values that count seconds, and that can
represent absolute time by counting seconds since the epoch of
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC.
Although traditionally Lisp timestamps were integer pairs, their
form has evolved and programs ordinarily should not depend on the
current default form. If your program needs a particular timestamp
form, you can use the
time-convert function to convert it to the
needed form. See Time Conversion.
There are currently three forms of Lisp timestamps, each of which represents a number of seconds:
(ticks . hz), where hz is positive. This represents ticks/hz seconds, which is the same time as plain ticks if hz is 1. A common value for hz is 1000000000, for a nanosecond-resolution clock.27
(high low micro pico), where 0≤low<65536, 0≤micro<1000000, and 0≤pico<1000000. This represents the number of seconds using the formula: high * 2**16 + low + micro * 10**-6 + pico * 10**-12. In some cases, functions may default to returning two- or three-element lists, with omitted micro and pico components defaulting to zero. On all current machines pico is a multiple of 1000, but this may change as higher-resolution clocks become available.
Function arguments, e.g., the time argument to
current-time-string, accept a more-general time value
format, which can be a Lisp timestamp,
nil for the current
time, a single floating-point number for seconds, or a list
(high low micro) or
low) that is a truncated list timestamp with missing elements
taken to be zero.
Time values can be converted to and from calendrical and other forms.
Some of these conversions rely on operating system functions that
limit the range of possible time values, and signal an error such as
‘"Specified time is not representable"’ if the
limits are exceeded. For instance, a system may not support years
before 1970, or years before 1901, or years far in the future.
You can convert a time value into
a human-readable string using
format-time-string, into a Lisp
time-convert, and into other forms using
float-time. These functions are
described in the following sections.
This function returns the current time and date as a human-readable
string. The format does not vary for the initial part of the string,
which contains the day of week, month, day of month, and time of day
in that order: the number of characters used for these fields is
always the same, although (unless you require English weekday or
month abbreviations regardless of locale) it is typically more
convenient to use
format-time-string than to extract
fields from the output of
as the year might not have exactly four digits, and additional
information may some day be added at the end.
The argument time, if given, specifies a time to format, instead of the current time. The optional argument zone defaults to the current time zone rule. See Time Zone Rules. The operating system limits the range of time and zone values.
(current-time-string) ⇒ "Fri Nov 1 15:59:49 2019"
This function returns the current time as a Lisp timestamp.
Although the timestamp takes the form
micro pico) in the current Emacs release, this is
planned to change in a future Emacs version. You can use the
time-convert function to convert a timestamp to some other
form. See Time Conversion.
This function returns the current time as a floating-point number of seconds since the epoch. The optional argument time, if given, specifies a time to convert instead of the current time.
Warning: Since the result is floating point, it may not be
exact. Do not use this function if precise time stamps are required.
For example, on typical systems
(float-time '(1 . 10)) displays
as ‘0.1’ but is slightly greater than 1/10.
time-to-seconds is an alias for this function.
Currently hz should be at least 65536 to avoid compatibility warnings when the timestamp is passed to standard functions, as previous versions of Emacs would interpret such a timestamps differently due to backward-compatibility concerns. These warnings are intended to be removed in a future Emacs version.