If you’ve ever tried using dates or time in your Zaps, you know it’s rarely as simple as finding the value in one step and adding it to another. But, if you ever need to perform any operations on dates or time values, Zapier formatter is here to help you.
In this quick guide, we’ll look at how to format date and time values using Zapier Formatter Date/Time action.
But first, let’s look at when you might find that automation useful.
When to Use Date / Time Zapier Formatter
The main problem that you’ll come across when trying to move time or date data is that different countries and locations often use different date formats. This results in different date standards being used in different applications.
Another problem is the time zones. Let’s say you need to collect analytics data from various sources with different time zones. Or you need performance data from employees who all used different time zones.
If you need to unify that data in one spreadsheet, you’ll need a tool to recalculate the time to a proper time zone. That’s where format dates can help you out.
On top of that, Zapier formatter can also help you compare different dates (and find a difference between them). This works great for calculating things like work duration or the time spent on various tasks (if you have a timesheet with start and end times).
Lastly, you can use the Date/Time Formatter tool to add or subtract time. This is useful when you don’t necessarily need to format the time, as much as you need to manipulate its value. For example, you could have automation that updates time estimates whenever you change them in one tool.
Now that you know the most common use cases for Zapier formatter, let’s look at how you can use them.
How to Use the Date/Time Zapier Formatter Action
Whenever you need to manipulate date or time values inside Zapier, the first step is to pick Formatter. Then, select Date/Time from its event drop-down list:
There, you’ll be able to pick one of three different actions:
- “Add/Subtract Time”.
- “Compare Dates”.
Let’s look at how each of these formatter actions works – and what you should be aware of when using any of them.
Adding and Subtracting Time in Zapier
To add or subtract time from a provided date, select the “Add/Subtract Time” option in the Date/Time Zapier Formatter action step.
Then, enter the value that you want to add or subtract. You can use values such as hours, minutes, days, or months.
Keep in mind that if you use minutes, you need to use a format that’ll output them correctly.
What’s important is that you can also select the “From” format, in case Zapier incorrectly interprets the format of the input data.
Unfortunately, unless your date and time format is very clear, it’s not uncommon for Zapier to mess things up. So, whenever possible, it’s best to set the “From format” in all Zaps.
In the above example, we set an action step with an input date of 22/05/2022 (DD/MM/YYYY) to change it to MMM DD YY:
The output of the above is Aug 05, 2022.
Interestingly, if we don’t set the “From Format”, the Zap will return Mar 17 2022 – which isn’t exactly what we want:
Calculating the Difference Between Two Dates
The next action, “Compare Dates”, allows you to calculate the difference between the two dates. It can return the data in days, hours, minutes, or seconds.
The good news is that, once again, you can input the date in any supported format. In the below example, we compare the DD/MM/YYYY format with a timestamp:
And here’s the result of the comparison:
But, is it correct? All we see is a timestamp, and have no way of telling whether that’s true or not. The timestamp 1669971788367 is equal to Friday, 2 December 2022 09:03:08.367.
So, if you were to manually calculate the number of days, you’d see there are 600 days between the 11th of April, 2022, and the 2nd of December, 2022.
How to Format a Date in Zapier?
Now, let’s look at how to format a date in Zapier. Let’s say what we get is a timestamp – and we want to change it to MMMM DD YYYY HH:mm:ss. With Zapier, doing this is super simple. First, select “Format” as your Date/Time transformation. Then, fill in the following:
- In the input field, select the date that you want to edit. In our case, it’s a ClickUp timestamp.
- In the Timezone, select the desired timezone for the output.
- In the “From Format” select X (1137971045) – this is Zapier’s name for the timestamp format.
- In the “from Timezone” select the original timestamp timezone.
Here’s what it all looks like in Zapier:
And here’s the output that you’ll get:
And that’s it. Now you know how to use all three Zapier date and time transformations.
Build Automation That Works!
Data is a critical element of every Zap that you create.
But, date and time are not the only transformations that you’ll come across and will need to play with. For more information on how to manipulate data in Zapier, check out my other Zapier formatter guides:
- Introduction to Zapier Formatter
- Guide to manipulating numbers in Zapier
- Guide to manipulating text in Zapier
- How to use Zapier Formatter Utilities
And, if you need any help with data manipulation in Zapier, don’t hesitate and reach out. Schedule a quick discovery call and let’s talk about your automation setup.
Hey, I’m Jacek. I’m the founder and Chief Automator at Clickleo.com
I’m on a mission to help you use automation to reclaim your time and achieve more in your business.
You can find out more about me – and why I started Clickleo – over on this page