Something stupid to try: Add “AD” to your menu bar clock - Macenstein

Something stupid to try: Add “AD” to your menu bar clock

Posted by iGor

Have you ever woken up after a long weekend of partying and you couldn’t remember what day it was? Well, how about whether Jesus died or not? If you’re like me, this has happened more times than you’d care to remember, but luckily Mac OS X and I have a solution to the problem… just ad “AD” to the end of your Mac OS X menu bar’s clock!

Mac menu bar clock

We figured this out after Count Macula here noticed the customization options in the International System Pref. Under “Formats”, you can customize how the date and time are displayed. Unfortunately, we soon learned that while you can add all sorts of unnecessary options to the “Times” field such as EDT (for daylight savings time) and a “milliseconds” field, in order to get “AD” to appear on your menu bar, you need to invoke a little trickery.

Step 1: Open System Preferences> International. Then click “Formats“.

Step 2: Under the Date section, click Customize.

Mac menu bar clock

Step 3: Start dragging whatever useless information you’d like displayed on the time bar into the window, and arrange the order by dragging items around.

Mac menu bar clock

Step 4: Select your new date format, and hit “Copy” (Command C)

Step 5: Go back to Formats, and hit the Customize button next to Times

Mac menu bar clock

Step 6: choose Medium from the show box (this is the one that displays in your menu bar) and paste your new date info in after the time.

Mac menu bar clock

Step 7: Hit OK

You should now have a menu bar clock that tells you the time, date, that you are on the East Coast, Daylight Savings Time is currently in effect, and we have left the BC era behind. If you need more help than that to get your bearings, we suggest you rush yourself to the emergency room for a little detox.

(Note: You can manually type other information between the pasted date fields, such as a “space” or “comma” to help separate them, but if you get too wacky, your menu bar clock may disappear altogether. We’ve noticed the letter “s” in particular screws things up (perhaps it is being used as a flag for seconds?). If you happen to screw everything up, simply select “United States” from the “Regions” menu drop down, and all settings will be set back to normal.)

11 Responses to “Something stupid to try: Add “AD” to your menu bar clock”
  1. Matt says:

    Acutally, the modern politically correct suffix is CE, for Common Era.

  2. Nick Cannon says:

    As an aside, it’s notable that the US must be one of the last countries in the world not to have adopted the 24-hour clock. Even here in the UK (where we’re often reluctant to adopt ‘European’ standards) ’17:15′ is pretty much understood as ‘quarter past five’ and we know it’s a hot day when the temperature reaches 30 degrees celsius – though we’re still expected to drive at the maximum of 70mph on motorways (freeways).

    The option to specify the ‘AD’ era makes more sense if you switch to other calendars – for Buddhists the current year is 2550 BE.

  3. Ethan says:

    Although many consider BCE/CE a better alternative to BC/AD it is not “correct”, it is a preference. In order for it to be correct, there must be a governing authority that makes that judgment. I personally think that there is no point in changing the perfectly suitable and globally recognizable terms BC and AD unless it benefits us in some way (efficiency, recognition, organization of years, etc.), so I prefer the more widely accepted BC/AD.

    BCE/CE are only widely adopted in educational uses, especially in text books. The general public has no incentive to change which terms they use (and most people don’t know there are alternatives), and the choice is irrelevant to scientific communities who use more precise standards like ISO 8601. I personally don’t mind if someone uses alternate terms like BCE/CE, since they represent the same thing, but the person using those terms should understand that the majority of people in the world are more likely to recognize and understand the terms BC/AD.

    As Matt said, some would argue that it is an issue of political correctness. It is not. The terms Anno Domini (AD, “In the Year of the Lord”) and Before Christ (BC), are arguably religious terms. The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance’s website ( states that “Forcing a Hindu, for example, to use AD and BC might be seen by some as coercing them to acknowledge the supremacy of the Christian god and of Jesus Christ.” There is no question of supremacy of any god in the use of the terms. It is a fact that Jesus (the Christ) was born close to the pivotal year (the year between BC and AD), and there were men who wanted to honor him out of respect. We recognize other honorable men by naming our days after them, but that is not seen as politically incorrect, regardless of their religious status. Whether Jesus was a supreme being is up to you to decide, but it does not affect the issue of naming epochs after him.

    All in all it is a matter of tradition. Tradition is important to every culture, and I see no reason to enforce the change of this tradition. We do not need to standardize the common naming of the epochs, since the ISO dating standard has already addressed the issue. When it comes down to the everyday use of BC/AD or BCE/CE, it should be up to each individual to decide which they prefer.

    As a side note, when it comes to political correctness, politicians are free to express their stand on any issue in any way legal. To ask a politician not to use the terms BC/AD because they have religious undertones could be described as an attempt to stifle their personal views on the issue, which is politically incorrect. If a politician hides their religious or personal views, voters are less informed to vote for that person.

  4. ES says:

    Hmmmm… I followed these directions to the letter, but they did not work for me. I cannot for the life of me get the date to show up in the menu bar. I can get the day (Mon, Tues, etc.) and the time and the time zone, but not the frickin date! Any suggestions? Thanks.

    My specs are: OS X 10.4.9, dual 2 GHz G5

  5. purerice says:

    Ditto. If you start banning the use of “AD” not only are you on a dangerous path to making it a “thought crime” but the next thing in line will be changing city names because “religious concerns”. St. Paul, San Francisco, perhaps even Los Angeles. Then of course the Statue of Liberty is a statue of a Greek deity… will we have to tear that down too? Let it be, let it be.

  6. ES,
    the main thing to make sure is that you have the times (step 6) set to MEDIUM.

    Other than that, I can’t think of why it wouldn’t work.

    -The Doc

  7. ES says:

    Yup. Tried it. No dice. Sigh… Thanks for replying.

  8. Hmm, weird. Well, on the plus side, even if it had worked for you, you wouldn’t have accomplished anything useful.
    -The Doc

  9. Jeff says:

    Let’s face it–the date/time GUI doesn’t work correctly in all cases. For those of you who are not afraid of the command prompt and are tired of standing on your head trying to get the menu to display the date, try the following:

    cd ~/Library/Preferences
    ls -a .GlobalPreferences.plist #make sure it’s there
    plutil -convert xml1 .GlobalPreferences.plist # convert it to text

    Use your favorite editor and add the following text below the first in the file:


    EEE, MMM d, yyyy


    MMM’ ‘d’ ‘H’:’mm’ ‘ss’ ‘a’ ‘zz’ ‘y

    NOTE: the 2 line actually does the trick. The above string produces a date line in this format on menu bar:

    Fri Jun 15 2:38 AM PDT 2007

    To up date the clock you can:
    1. Log out and log back in; or
    2. Go to the Date&Time->Open International->Formats
    3. Toggle the region list box between a region (like United States) and Custom.
    4. The new date string will appear.
    5. Quit Date & Time

    BTW: The .GlobalProferences.plist will now be back in binary1 format, To change/edit it you will have to use plutil -convert xml1 again.

    More information on formats can be gleaned/inferred from the manual page “strftime”
    To read the manual page, from the command prompt, type
    man strftime

    One more thing: To make your menu clock time string a GLOBAL system default, modify the /Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist file instead of the user’s .GlobalPrferences.plist. The same methodology applies, but you have to be the “root” users to edit this file.

    I do hope Apple will fix their Date/Time GUI soon….

  10. Jeff says:

    YIKES, this sites text formatter really screwed up my source text in my previous message.
    If someone knows how to get the site to format program text properly, I’ll re-post.
    Meanwhile you can look at your personal ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist
    file (in the approprate directory) with the command:

    plutil -convert xml1 -o /dev/tty .GlobalPreferences.plist

    The method in my previous message actually works reliably.

  11. Jeff says:

    Looks like this website garbled my source text. Does someone know how to get this site
    to quote source text (including greater-than and less-than symbols?

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