In Xfce, a desktop environment for Linux, the clock applet allows for a great deal of customization. As opposed to some utilities, which only offer the ability to determine how your clock displays the date and time by choosing from a group of presets, the Xfce applet allows for full customization.
How does this work?
It involves a bit of knowledge about how the Unix ‘date’ utility works, and barring that, quite a bit of experimentation. Assuming the clock applet is already up and running, simply right-click on the panel clock and choose the Properties option from the contextual window.
This will bring up the following window, where the user is able to modify how the clock looks and behaves.
The clock applet actually offers up quite a few different viewing options. For instance, in addition to the traditional Digital clock option, you can view an analog clock, a binary clock, a fuzzy clock (“five past five”), or the LCD option. But for our purposes, we’re going to assume your clock is using the digital option, as it allows for the most customization.
We’ll start by configuring the clock option. To do so, click the pop-up menu beside “Format” at the bottom of the window and choose the “Custom Format” option.
When you have done this, a text entry field appears, showing something similar to this:
This series of letters and symbols (which is actually the format for the last chosen preset, at least until you start making changes) tells your clock how to display the time and date. Because the built-in help file isn’t really any help at all (a single page showing a screenshot of the clock properties window!), here are some guidelines to what you can type, and what will appear in the clock:
%c – Shows the day, date, month and year, followed by the time (with seconds), AM/PM and your time zone
%r – This shows the time (with seconds), AM/PM
%R – This displays the time in 24-hour time formatting (no seconds or AM/PM)
%T – Same as above, but with seconds
%X – 12-hour time with seconds and AM/PM
Beyond those five standard configurations, you can mix and match your own. For instance, of the above, all of the 12-hour time listings display the time with a leading zero, like this:
You need a bit of customization if you want the time displayed this way:
Similarly, all of the standard options above show AM/PM using capital letters. If you want lowercase letters you need to use a custom option. Here are some of those options:
%l – (lowercase L) – displays the hour in 12-hour time without a leading zero
%I – displays the hour in 12-hour time with a leading zero
%H – displays the hour in 24-hour time
%M – minutes
%S – seconds
%p – AM/PM
%P – am/pm
When customizing your own format, feel free to use a colon (“:”) whenever necessary as a separator. It will appear just as it is in your final arrangement. So, if you want the time displayed in 12-hour time without a leading zero, with seconds, and with am/pm displayed using uppercase letters, you would type the following: %l:%M:%S %p
As is also shown, the tooltip (often used to show the date), can be customized as well. Once again there are available presets, but some of the following may also be helpful:
%A – full day of the week (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday)
%a – day of the week, abbreviated (Sun, Mon, Tue)
%d – day of the month (using padding, so the first would be written as 01)
%e – day of the month, no padding (the first of the month would be simply 1)
%B – full month name (January, February, March)
%b – abbreviated month name (Jan, Feb, Mar)
%Y – year, all four digits
%y – year, two digit abbreviation
Now, once you have these in hand, you can create your own tooltip. Someone from the UK might use this: %a %d %B %Y
While someone from the US might use the following: %A, %B %d, %Y
There’s really no end to the customization possibilities. And the options listed above are really only the start of it. For a complete list, open your terminal and type “man date” without the quotes, to view the date function’s man (manual) page.