How to troubleshoot your Mac's clock when it sets the wrong time

I don't know about you, but having one of my internet-connected devices display the wrong time, especially these days, feels really strange. At a time where every major piece of technology we use communicates with a server to set the time, seeing a computerized clock that's not working properly is one of those "Wait...what?" moments.

On rare occasions, this exact problem can crop up on macOS. Generally speaking, it should be set by itself. It could be caused by a number of factors. The Mac in question could have been off for an extended period of time, or there might be some kind of bug in Location Services (someone else might have manually set the time on the Mac incorrectly. We'll leave it to you to figure out the best way to give anyone who has access to your Mac an accusing stare).

Because incorrect time might be caused by one of a number of different problems, here are some steps that you can try

How to manage your Mac's automatic date and time settings

Your Mac will automatically set the date and time based on your location. Here's how to manage those settings. Make sure you're connected to the internet when you're trying to get your Mac to automatically set your date an time.

  1. Open System Preferences from your Mac's dock or Applications folder.
  2. Click Date & Time.

    Open System Preferences, click Date & Time

  3. Check the box next to Set date and time automatically if it's not checked already.
  4. Click the drop down next to Set date and time automatically.

    Check box, click drop down

  5. Choose a time server to connect to.

    Choose time server

How to manually set your Mac's time zone

Normally, your Mac will automatically set your time zone based on your location, but you can pick a different one manually if you choose.

  1. Open System Preferences from your Mac's dock or Applications folder.
  2. Click Date & Time.

    Open System Preferences, click Date & Time

  3. Click Time Zone.
  4. Uncheck the box next to Set time zone automatically using current location.

    Click Time Zone, uncheck box

  5. Click on a section of the world map to set your new time zone.

    Choose new time zone

How to manually set your Mac's date and time

If push comes to shove, you can always manually set the time and date on your Mac.

  1. Open System Preferences from your Mac's dock or Applications folder.
  2. Click Date & Time.

    Open System Preferences, click Date & Time

  3. Uncheck the box next to Set date and time automatically if it's checked.
  4. Highlight the part of the date (month, day, or year) that you want to change in the date readout.

    Uncheck box, highlight date

  5. Click the arrows next to the date display to change the date forward or backward.
  6. Alternatively, click a new date on the calendar.

    Click arrows, click new date

  7. Highlight the part of the time (hour, minute, or second) that you want to change in the date readout.
  8. Click the arrows next to the time display to change the time forward or backward.

    Highlight time, click arrows

  9. Alternatively, click and drag the hands on the clock to set the time.

    Drag hands to set time

Questions?

If you have any more questions about managing your Mac's relationship to the time-space continuum, let us know in the comments.

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