While serving as a clock might not be the primary purpose of a computer, keeping time is an extremely important function in a PC. Accurate time not only keeps your calendar appointment reminders timely, but also keeps your computer working right, and even keeps it updated and safe. For this reason, most Windows computers come set to synchronize (“sync”) their system clock with Internet time servers, which are extremely accurate. The result: Your Windows clock is one of the most accurate clocks you own. 

Windows gives you a few ways to put this accuracy to use for yourself, starting with the handy taskbar clock on the bottom right of your screen, and the built-in Windows app called Alarms & Clock. Let’s look at a few ways to use your device’s inner clock, and then see how to make sure your computer’s date and time sync is set up to keep its internal clock ticking as it should.

Customize the Windows clock

Many people like the clock that always shows on the taskbar, on the bottom right of the screen. It gives a quick check of the time and date. Clicking it opens a bigger clock view, including the time to the second, the month’s calendar and the day’s agenda. Click on another day if you want to see that day’s agenda.

Screenshot of action center

To make changes and customize, go in Windows Settings to Time & Language > Date & time. To get there faster, in the taskbar search box, type “date” and then select Date & time settings.

Screenshot of Date & time settings

To make things easier, turn On the switches at Set time automatically – we'll talk more about this in a few minutes – and Adjust for daylight saving time automatically. Unless you travel with your device a lot and frequently use it in different time zones, it’s also probably easiest to select your Time zone and turn off the Set time zone automatically switch. 

Under Formats, you can see how dates and times currently display. Click Change time and date formats if, for example, you want to show the day before the month, or to change the time between a.m./p.m. and a 24-hour format. When you make those format changes, they not only appear in your taskbar clock, but also in your schedule in calendar apps such as Windows Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.

Alarms & Clock app puts time to more use

The Alarms & Clock app, built in to Windows 10, gives you more ways to take advantage of your computer as a timekeeper. Your device becomes a timer, stopwatch or alarm clock, as well as keeping track of local time in several global locations. To find Alarms & Clock fast, type “alarms” into the taskbar search box and click open Alarms & Clock.

Set an Alarm

On the Alarm tab, click an alarm time to change it, or click Add new alarm to make a new one. Then under Edit Alarm, use the up or down arrows on the hour, minute and AM/PM columns to set the time you want.

Screenshot of alarm settings

Give your alarm a name, if you might want to use it again. Specify how often it repeats, what sound it plays and even how long the snooze lasts. When it’s set to how you want it, click Save at the bottom. Back at the Alarms tab, turn On the switch for the alarm you want to trigger. Notice that the Alarms & Clock taskbar icon gets a “badge” to remind you that an alarm has been turned on.

Note that Alarms (and Timers) will keep the requested time even if Alarms & Clock app is closed or your device is locked. But you won’t get the alarm tones or notifications. To ensure your device does alert you when it should, make sure it’s plugged in, your volume is high enough for you to hear, and your device doesn’t go to sleep when you're inactive. Adjust your device’s sleep settings at Settings > System > Power & sleep – from the list under Sleep, select a time that is longer than your alarm or timer duration.

Screenshot of Power & sleep settings

Keep time around the world

If you have friends or family in other parts of the world, the Alarms & Clock app’s world clock can track local time in as many as 10 locations. Click Add new clock, then type in the name of the city in the Enter a location box. If the location you want isn’t found, you might have to enter a larger city from the same time zone.

Screenshot of world clock map

Fun tip: Right-click a location in word clock and select Pin to Start. That puts a tile on your Start menu showing that location’s current time and date. Click that tile to open the Alarms & Clock app.

Keep your device clock ticking right

While your device’s internal clock does pretty well keeping accurate time, connecting it to Internet time helps make it as accurate as possible. A few steps will help make sure it stays correct.

  1. Set your region and time zone – In Settings > Time & Language, on the Region & language tab, under Country or region, make sure your country or area is correctly selected. Then, on the Date & time tab, under Date and time, make sure your time zone is correctly selected. If you’re traveling, it’s easier to turn the switch On at Set time zone automatically.

  2. Set your device to automatically update – On the Date & time tab, under Date and time, turn On the switch at Set time automatically. Then, under Related settings, click Additional date, time, & regional settings to open the Clock and Region box of the Control Panel. Under the Internet Time tab of the Date and Time box, it tells you if you’re set to automatically synchronize with an Internet time server. If so, you’re done! If not, click Change settings, and in the Internet Time Settings box, check the box at Synchronize with an Internet time server, then click Update now.

Screenshot of Internet Time settings

I hope this article has helped you get even more use from your PC. Please feel free to share this with others and tell us about other ways you use your device clock in the comments below. And if you have different functions you want a device clock to have, please send us your thoughts through the Windows Feedback Hub. Press Windows key + F to open Feedback Hub. We love hearing from you!