Ubuntu’s time and date indicator in Unity is a bit blah for my tastes. With the default settings on my system, it currently says “7:39 AM”. That’s accurate, but it could be much more helpful.

You can load up the Time & Date application from the dash, click the Clock tab, and customize the appearance a bit. However, the options offered in the application are very limited compared to what the indicator is capable of supporting. Sure, you can change it to the following with a few checkboxes “Thu Mar 26 2015 7:39:11 AM” or toggle it to a 24-hour time, but it really doesn’t look that nice to me.

Fortunately, the indicator can be set to a custom mode which supports all the options offered by the strftime function.

To set up your custom indicator, first make sure that you have the clock indicator enabled:

[chris@work ~]$ gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.datetime show-clock true

Next, set the indicator to use the custom format:

[chris@work ~]$ gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.datetime time-format custom

Finally, set your indicator format:

[chris@work ~]$ gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.datetime custom-time-format "%A, %B %e  %l:%M %P"

This changes my indicator to say “Thursday, March 26  7:40 am”.

The different options that can be used in the format string can be found on the strftime function’s man page.

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