When you open an app or service on your Mac, like Mail or Finder, you’ll see dates, times, numbers, and currencies in specific formats. But maybe you’re not fond of how the time displays or would prefer a different format for numbers.
You may not realize it, but you can customize the way that date, time, number, and currency formats display on your Mac. And this tutorial will show you how to do just that.
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Access the format settings
For each of these items, you’ll head to the same spot on your Mac to make changes.
- Open System Preferences with the icon in your Dock or Apple icon > System Preferences from the menu bar.
- Select Language & Region.
- Click the Advanced button at the bottom of the window.
When you open the Advanced settings, you’ll see each of the three areas we’ll walk you through at the top: General, Dates, and Times. You’ll also see the current formats you’re using for dates, times, numbers, and currencies on the General tab.
So, let’s get started!
Customize number, currency and measurement unit formats
Click the General tab at the top of the Advanced settings window to change your number and currency formats.
Number separators: Select the options you would like to use for Grouping and Decimal. Grouping lets you pick from a comma, period, space, apostrophe, or none. For Decimal, you can pick a comma or period.
Currency: The country for your currency defaults to your location, but you can change this in the drop-down next to Currency. And with that, you can also adjust the Grouping and Decimal options you want to use.
Measurement units: Choose from US, UK, or Metric for your measurement unit displays.
With each change you make, you can immediately see how it will display directly below.
To change the temperature unit that displays on your Mac, close the advanced settings and then make the change on the Language & Region screen.
Customize date formats
To customize the date formats that display on your Mac, click the Dates tab.
Your Mac uses four different formats for the date for short, medium, long, and full. You can change each type of date and each element within it. Select the element you want to change, and you’ll see your options in the drop-down box.
So if you prefer your short date format to have a leading zero for the month or date, you can choose that from the list.
Or if you want the full date format to display an abbreviation for the day of the week, rather than the full name, make your pick from that drop-down list.
In addition to changing what currently appears in the date types, you can add other elements. In the Date Elements section, you can drag an element up to the date type you want, drop it in, and then customize its format from the drop-down list.
Once you make your changes, you can go back to the General tab to see how those dates will display. If you’re happy with your changes, click OK to apply them.
To change the first day of the week that displays on your Mac, close the advanced settings and then make the change on the Language & Region screen.
Customize time formats
Click the Times tab to customize the formats for short, long, medium, and full times on your Mac.
This section works just like the Dates area. So you can pick the format for each element within each time type and add more elements from the Time Elements section.
Maybe you prefer your times to use the 24-hour time format and with leading zeros. You have that option in your list for all time types.
Or perhaps you don’t want to display the time zone in the full type format. You can simply select that element and hit your Delete key to remove it.
If you need to see the milliseconds in one of the time formats, drag it from the Time Elements area and drop it into the time type you want. Then click the drop-down box to format it.
You can also change the Before noon and After noon display at the bottom by typing in what you want to use instead of AM and PM.
Like with the Dates section, you can immediately see how your changes will display by going back to the General tab. And if you’re happy with your changes, click OK to apply them.
To change the clock to a 24-hour format on your Mac, close the advanced settings and then make the change on the Language & Region screen.
Restore your format changes
If you decide that you don’t like the changes you made and want to revert back to the defaults, you don’t have to change each element.
Just click the Restore Defaults button from any tab. This will revert any and all changes to the General, Dates, and Times tabs back to their original states.
Your Mac, your formats
Now when you use Finder or open an app like Mail or Notes, your dates, times, numbers, and currencies will display in the formats you’ve chosen.
This is a terrific way to customize your Mac so it works best for your taste or preference. Are you going to customize these displays on your Mac? If so, let us know below or message us on Twitter or Facebook!
Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a project manager, department manager, and PMO Lead. She then decided to follow her dream and now writes about technology full-time. Sandy holds a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.
She loves technology– specifically – terrific games and apps for iOS, software that makes your life easier, and productivity tools that you can use every day, in both work and home environments.
Her articles have regularly been featured at MakeUseOf, iDownloadBlog and many other leading tech publications.