Date and time fields can have a default value of “Today” or “Now” that populates if you don’t enter another value in the field before saving an item. In your date/time column settings:
- If you choose type “Date only” you’ll get the current date
- If you choose “Date and time” you’ll get the current date and time
You can instead check the box for “Use calculated value” and use “=Now()” as the formula to return the exact same result. However, the benefit/difference of using the calculated option with =Now() instead of the “Today’s date” option is that if your users change from “Date only” to “Date and time” type down the road, “=Now()” will include both date and time values already. It doesn’t hurt to have time included and not displayed.
Finally, you can use the calculated value option to do true calculations for things like “Due date” or “Reminder” where you use a formula like:
- =Now()+7 is exactly a week from the current date and time
- =Now()+(1/24*n) where you’ll replace “n” with a number of hours from the current time
Note that these values will be static, meaning once the date/time populates, it doesn’t update when you edit the item. It’s merely a default value inserted upon creation if you don’t manually enter a different value.
Also, when using Now() with hourly calculations you’ll want to double-check your time zone settings (Site settings –> regional settings) and adjust your formulas accordingly if you’re unable to identify a fix.
If just using “Date only” type, you can instead use =Today() and not worry about time zone so much unless your calculations will involve units less than one day.
If you need a “live” always-updated value regardless of items being modified, you’ll need to create a separate “Today” column using Microsoft Flow or SharePoint Designer:
- Use Microsoft Flow to create a “today” column for use in SharePoint list calculations
- Creating a “Today” column in SharePoint that always gives today’s date (SPD)
This post also includes ideas for calculations using today’s date.