Incorrect time on your Mac? Here’s how to fix that

DateTimeIconXThe time that your Mac displays is not only for your convenience, but also a requirement for many of OS X’s services. This includes its ability to schedule tasks and notify you of calendar events, as well as time-stamp files and events, and properly communicate with online services using some forms of encryption. Therefore, if the clock on your Mac is off, then you might not only be late for a meeting, but might also not be able to send or receive messages and other Web content.

Luckily, for an incorrect clock on your Mac, there is a fairly simply approach for fixing it. First, ensure you have an internet connection, and then ensure you can communicate with an official and dedicated time server.

  1. Open the Terminal
  2. Type “ping -c 5 ” followed by a single space
  3. Enter the URL of a dedicated time server, such as “” for Apple’s official server, or “” for the US government’s time server. You can look up some additional time servers on the NIST Web site.
  4. Press Enter to run the Ping command.

When you do this, you should see a series of “ms” time readings followed by the command printing some statistics and exiting, suggesting you can establish a route to the specified server.

If you cannot establish a route, then you will see either an error such as “Unknown host,” or “timeout” repeatedly output. If this happens, then you will need to check your internet connection or the specific time server you have specified, and either use another one or otherwise determine why you cannot reach it.

Pinging NTP servers in the OS X Terminal

This response from the ping command indicates a valid response from the server, suggesting it is running and you have a route to it.

For best results, be sure you use a time server close to the region in which you live, such as a “” for asian regions, and “” for time zones closer to Europe.

With your time server route confirmed, go to the Date & Time system preferences, and then enter the URL of the time server in the drop-down menu within the Date & Time tab (Apple provides pre-defined servers for its US, Asian, and European time servers in this menu). Then check the box to set the date and time automatically, and OS X should set your time accordingly. If the time still does not update, then try toggling this box off and then on again, and wait up to a few minutes for the date to update.

You can also manually trigger the NTP update service to run by opening the Terminal and running the following command (supply your password when prompted—it will not show):

sudo launchctl start org.ntp.ntpd

This will trigger the hidden /usr/libexec/ntpd-wrapper program to run and update your Mac’s time, and your Mac’s time should update properly.

Time Server list in the Date & Time system preferences in OS X

Apple includes a number of its default time servers in the system preferences pane, but you can type the address of any that you want in the field.

Note that while you can test and manually enter time server information on your Mac, some corporate network policies will require your Mac to use a time server specified by your corporation’s IT department. In some cases these settings can be overridden by manually adjusting your Date & Time system preferences, but if not then you will need to contact your IT department to see what can be done. These policies might also be enforced on some VPN connections, which may affect your Mac’s time simply by logging into your VPN service with a specific client.

A final issue you might run into is if your time zone settings are incorrect, where your Mac’s time may be off by exactly an hour or two. To fix this, you can manually set your Mac’s time zone in the Date & Time system preferences, or preferably have OS X automatically set your time zone using its location services (an option that can be enabled in the Time Zone section of the Date & Time system preferences).

16 thoughts on “Incorrect time on your Mac? Here’s how to fix that

    1. Marleen

      I am currently having it. I have a Macbook Pro from 2014. 🙁 On my phone it is automatically changing the time though.

      1. Kirk Daughtry

        in my case, I fixed the problem by putting the location back to my hometown, San Antonio, Texas, even though I am still in Tulum, Mexico … basically, I discovered that there is a glitch in the system, if I had selected Cancun, Mexico as my location … the system has the wrong time zone calculation for Cancun … in reality, I am in the same time zone, down here in the Yucatan, Mexico, as back home, in San Antonio, but, someone needs to tell the people who are responsible for the data in the system, that it is incorrect …

  1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    In the “old” days this would routinely happen when a Mac’s pram battery failed, which used to be more common than it is today. In fact, in most modern Macs there is no user serviceable pram battery. My old Mac Pro has one, but in 7 years of use it never failed. This suggests to me that pram batteries improved significantly over the years. These days I don’t know how pram settings, like the clock, are maintained when the computer is off or disconnected from power. Maybe Topher does. ?

    1. MatyVac

      I have a new mac mini and the time has been set on this pc about twelve or something like that in the past

  2. onepablo

    Maybe it could help someone.
    It worked for me:

  3. Joe Public

    OS X 10.10.4

    Yesterday, after a reboot, I discovered was displaying European Time – i.e. 1 hour ahead of UK (Summer) time.

    None of the choices on the drop-down list offered UK time.

    Trouble is, a number of emails sent before the error was noticed, now have incorrect time stamps. I’ve had replies timed at before the originals were ‘sent’.

  4. Anthony

    It happens to me after sleep. Clicking on the checkbox in Date and Time a couple of times fixes it for me.

  5. superreggieq

    I followed it all, and now, instead of the displayed time being 5 hours later, it’s now 7 hours later. I think. I think it changed a bit. Still not right though. Sigh.

    1. Rachael

      There’s nothing better than trying to fix a problem and only making it worse! Although, I suppose the time is either off or it isn’t, so it’s kinda the same either way. Just keep messing with it, you’re bound to get it eventually 😉

  6. Tamara Mahoney Kneisel

    I cannot check the “box” in Date/Time, its all greyed out and no option to change anything. I”m set to but its about ten minutes off which is really annoying. Help?


  7. Kirk Daughtry

    I noticed today, that my Mac is one hour behind the actual time … the settings for my current location appear to be correct, so it does not appear to be a time zone issue … I read the so-called simple fixes above, but all the freakin’ computerese gobbledegook went right over my head … frustrated … oh well … at least my watch is correct and, at least, I figured out the error before I fly on Tuesday … would have sucked if I had gone to the airport for an international flight, an hour later than I should have …

  8. Beth

    For the past month or so I have been having trouble at work sending information to a government department (before this time there were no problems sending the information) I get a message that I am trying to submit from a date in the future (I can send it from a colleagues Surface Pro however). I have set and reset the time and date settings, and from the help topics I have read I have covered the time and date settings correctly and they are displayed on the screen as the current time and date. However I noticed yesterday that a screenshot I took was time stamped with a different format! I am in Australia and have set apple Asia and the formats used in Australia, yet the screenshot was time stamped in American time format and the correct time and date of when the screenshot was taken. I am very confused! The US is about 17 hours behind Australia so it must be a date format (we use day/month/year), although I am always able to submit the next day, and if 21/11/2016 was entered as 11/21/2016 and rejected then why would 11/22/2016 be accepted as it shouldn’t even register having 22 months! I have been in touch on multiple occasions with my management software provider and the government department, who both blame each other, but could it be the Mac?

Comments are closed.