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Effortlessly Retrieve the Current Time in Python


How to Get and Use the Current Time in Python

Getting the current time in Python is a fundamental operation that is often needed in various applications. Whether you need to record timestamps or display the current time to the user, Python provides the necessary tools to accomplish these tasks. In this tutorial, you will learn how to get, display, and format the current time using the datetime module. Specifically, we will cover the following topics:

  • How to tell the time in Python
  • Formatting timestamps for readability
  • Getting the current Unix time in Python
  • Working with time zone-aware Python time and date objects

How to Tell the Time in Python

The simplest way to obtain and display the current time in Python is by using the .now() class method from the datetime module. Here’s an example:

from datetime import datetime
now =

When you execute this code, you will see the current date and time displayed in the format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS.MMMMMM. For example, 2022-11-22 14:31:59.331225.

The now() method returns a datetime object representing the current date and time. By printing the object, you can see the actual timestamp. However, the datetime object does not include information about the time zone. It relies on the operating system to determine the correct time zone.

To customize the format of the timestamp, you can use the .isoformat() method of the datetime object. This method returns the timestamp in the standard ISO 8601 format, which is widely used for representing dates and times. Here’s an example:


The output will be in the format: YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS.MMMMMM, where T separates the date and time components.

Format Timestamps for Readability

In some cases, you may want to format the timestamp in a more human-readable way. For example, instead of displaying the entire timestamp, you may only want to show the hour and minute. The strftime() method allows you to format the timestamp according to a specific format string.

Here’s an example that formats the current time as HH:MM:

now =
formatted_time = now.strftime("%H:%M")

The %H and %M symbols in the format string correspond to the hour and minute components, respectively. This code will output the current hour and minute in the format HH:MM.

Get the Current Unix Time in Python

Unix time represents the number of seconds that have elapsed since January 1, 1970. It is a widely used standard for representing time in computer systems. In Python, you can obtain the current Unix time using the time() method from the time module.

Here’s an example:

import time
current_time = int(time.time())

The time() method returns the current time as a floating-point number representing the number of seconds since the Unix epoch. To obtain an integer value representing the current time, we can use the int() function to truncate the decimal part.

Get Time Zone-Aware Python Time and Date Objects

While the datetime module provides a way to obtain the current time, the resulting datetime object is not time zone-aware by default. This means that it does not include information about the time zone in which the timestamp is expressed. However, Python provides the pytz library, which allows you to work with time zone-aware objects.

To use pytz, you need to install it first. You can install it using pip:

pip install pytz

Once pytz is installed, you can create time zone-aware datetime objects. Here’s an example:

from datetime import datetime
import pytz
# Get the current time in the UTC time zone
current_time =

In this example, we use the method with the pytz.utc time zone to obtain the current time in the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) time zone. By including the pytz.utc argument, the resulting datetime object will be aware of the time zone, allowing you to perform time calculations and conversions accurately.


Obtaining and working with the current time is a common task in Python programming. In this tutorial, you have learned how to get the current time, format timestamps for readability, obtain the current Unix time, and work with time zone-aware datetime objects. These techniques will allow you to effectively handle time-related operations in your Python applications. Remember to consult the datetime module documentation for more details and options.

Now that you have a good understanding of how to get and use the current time in Python, you can apply these concepts to your own projects and explore further possibilities. Happy coding!