How to Add Automatic Timestamps to Cells in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding automatic timestamps to cells in Google Sheets is a simple yet effective way to track changes or entries in your spreadsheet. By using Google Sheets’ in-built functions, you can easily create a timestamp that updates automatically whenever a cell is edited. Here’s a quick overview: you will use a script editor to add a custom function that records the date and time when a cell is modified. Now, let’s dive into the details and get those timestamps rolling!

After completing the action of adding automatic timestamps, every time a cell is edited, the corresponding cell will display the current date and time. This is incredibly useful for keeping track of when data was added or changed without manually entering this information.


Imagine this: you’re collaborating on a project with a team, and you need to keep track of when data was last updated. Or, you’re managing an inventory and it’s crucial to know the precise moment an item was added. In cases like these, automatic timestamps in Google Sheets can be a lifesaver.

Timestamps can serve as a digital paper trail, providing accountability and transparency in shared projects. They are relevant not only for project managers but also for educators tracking student progress, businesses monitoring sales data, or individuals keeping personal records. The beauty of Google Sheets is its accessibility and ease of use, and by adding automatic timestamps, we can supercharge its functionality. With a few simple steps, we’ll turn our spreadsheet into a dynamic and self-updating record keeper.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding Automatic Timestamps to Google Sheets

Before we get started with the steps, let’s understand what we’ll accomplish. By the end of this tutorial, we’ll have a script that automatically inserts a timestamp in a designated cell whenever another cell in the same row is edited.

Step 1: Open the Script Editor

Firstly, go to your Google Sheets and click on “Extensions” in the menu bar, then select “Apps Script”.

The Script Editor is where the magic happens. It allows us to write custom functions that can extend the functionality of Google Sheets. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a coding whiz for this!

Step 2: Delete any code in the script editor and paste the custom timestamp script

Remove any pre-existing code and paste the following script into the editor: function onEdit(e) {var sheet = e.source.getActiveSheet(); if (sheet.getName() == 'Sheet1'){var range = e.range;var row = range.getRowIndex();var column = range.getColumnIndex();if(column == 1){var timestampCell = sheet.getRange(row, 2);timestampCell.setValue(new Date());}}}

This script sets up an ‘onEdit’ trigger which tells Google Sheets to run the script every time a cell is edited. We are telling it to check if the edit is taking place in ‘Sheet1’, and specifically in column 1 (you can change these to match your sheet name and desired column).

Step 3: Save and name your project

Click the disk icon to save the script, giving it a name like “Auto Timestamp”.

By saving the project, you’re preserving the script to be used by your Google Sheet. It’s like putting the key into the ignition of a car – nothing happens until you turn the key.


Real-time updatesAutomatic timestamps ensure that every change is logged the moment it happens, giving you a real-time update without any manual effort.
AccountabilityWith each edit timestamped, it’s clear who made changes and when, which can be vital in collaborative environments.
EfficiencyAutomating the timestamp process saves time and reduces the risk of human error in record-keeping.


Script limitationsThe script provided is basic and may need to be customized for more complex needs, which could require advanced scripting knowledge.
Single-sheet restrictionThe script, as written, applies to only one sheet and may need to be duplicated or modified for use in multiple sheets within the same workbook.
No undo featureOnce the timestamp is set, any further edits to the cell won’t update the timestamp unless the script is adjusted to allow for this.

Additional Information

When using the script to add automatic timestamps, there are a few things to keep in mind. The script works on a per-sheet basis, so if you have multiple sheets where you want to apply timestamps, you’ll need to modify the script accordingly. It’s also important to note that the timestamp will only populate when an edit is made in the specified column; if you want to track edits in multiple columns, you’ll need to adapt the script.

Don’t forget to check the time zone settings in your Google Sheets to ensure the timestamps reflect your local time. Lastly, as with any script, it’s a good idea to test it out in a non-critical sheet to get comfortable with how it works before implementing it in your main project.


  1. Open the Script Editor from the Extensions menu.
  2. Paste the custom timestamp script into the editor.
  3. Save and name your project.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need timestamps in multiple columns?

You can modify the script to apply to additional columns by adjusting the column index in the script.

Will the timestamps update if I edit the cell again?

No, the script, as provided, will only timestamp the first edit. You would need to modify the script for subsequent edits to be timestamped.

Can I use this script on mobile?

The script should work on the mobile version of Google Sheets, as long as you have set it up on the desktop version first.

Is there a way to format the timestamp?

Yes, you can use Google Sheets’ standard formatting options to change the appearance of the timestamp once it has been inserted.

Does this work with comments or notes added to a cell?

No, the script is designed to respond to edits made to the cell’s content, not to comments or notes.


Adding automatic timestamps to cells in Google Sheets can drastically improve your workflow and data management. Whether you’re a solo user keeping track of personal projects or a team member collaborating on a shared document, timestamps offer a level of organization and accountability that’s hard to beat.

While the process may seem daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. So, go ahead and give it a try – your future self will thank you for the time and hassle saved! And remember, the possibilities with Google Sheets don’t end here; there’s a whole world of scripts and functions out there to explore and implement.