Correct Time displays in Entourage calendar by adjusting the correct System Preferences

“Jeremy”, a Microsoft Entourage newsgroup reader, asked if others had seen his issue where his calendar was not displaying the AM/PM symbols even though he was certain his clock was not set to 24-hour format.

After reinstalling Mac OS X, “Kent” found that Entourage was using the AM/PM time format even though his clock was set to use 24-hour format.

“JMB” reported that every new event in his calendar defaulted to a time of “7:08 PM” and he can’t adjust the time at all.
Are these bugs in Entourage or signs of Database corruption? The answer actually lies outside of Entourage and in System Preferences but maybe not where you would think.

Entourage uses a lot of Mac OS X’s system resources to display information in the format you’ve chosen (or at least what Mac OS X says you’ve chosen). However, one of the most common formats for a system resource you use all the time, Time, is actually adjustable in more than one place.

An average user with a daytime job might prefer to see a 12-hour clock represented as “1:34 PM” whereas a military user might prefer a 24-hour clock represented as “13:34”. And a world traveler might prefer to show leading zeroes, seconds and the time zone “07:08:09 PM CDT”.

The logical first assumption to set all of this would be the Date & Time pane in System Preferences. That’s where the time zone is set and that’s also where you can opt to show time with seconds, show AM/PM and set the clock to 24-hour format.

However, setting the preferences in the Date & Time pane of System Preferences solves the problem of what to show in your menu bar but not what you show in Entourage. Those preferences are tucked away somewhere else in a place where few folks would think to look–the International pane in System Preferences.

In the International pane of System Preferences look under the Formats tab and you’ll find a section for formatting Times. Click on the Customize… button and the mysterious “7:08 PM” that JMB reported appears.

This setting is at the heart of most time display problems in Entourage. Entourage will honor the settings here when displaying the time under the Sent and Received columns as well as when creating a new calendar event. While Entourage is smart about how it displays the time for messages and events by using a system setting, it’s dumb in that it doesn’t control the format at all. I say it’s dumb because Entourage takes no control over what the user sees whether it’s right or wrong. And that’s very confusing.
I’d really like to see something in Entourage preferences for this setting that simply opens the International System Preferences pane when viewed.


To illustrate the problem I’ll present two examples for two different settings. Although these examples and the International System Preferences settings display “7:08 PM” this is just to provide an example of the format of the time but not the actual time. The left picture displays the time format as it appears in the International System Preferences pane and the right displays the time for a 9:00 a.m. morning calendar event as it appears in Entourage.

Note how the time format for the Entourage event matches the time format selected in the International System Preferences pane.

Next, I’ll edit the time format in International System Preferences pane so that the hour uses two-digit 24-hour numbering and the minutes uses no leading zeroes. Note how the numbers are actually drop-down menus with multiple display options.

In this example my “7:08 PM” time format now displays as “19:8 PM”.

If you were not aware of what you’d just changed in the International System Preferences pane then you’d probably be thinking this looks really strange. Actually, it looks strange no matter what.

And keep in mind that your event will display a 3:00 p.m. event in 24-hour format even though you haven’t set your clock to display 24-hour format in the Date & Time System Preferences pane.


When troubleshooting problems with time formats in Entourage, keep the following in mind:

  1. The Date & Time System Preferences pane is only used to control the appearance of your clock in the menu bar.
  2. The International System Preferences pane is where you adjust the time format you prefer to use.
  3. If you’re experiencing time display problems in Entourage, reset the time format in the International System Preferences pane to use the Short format and adjust the hours to display a 12-hour format and adjust the minutes to display a two-digit format. Return to Entourage and create a new calendar event to immediately see the changes.
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8 comments to Correct Time displays in Entourage calendar by adjusting the correct System Preferences

  • kyle Gibson

    OMFG! – I have to say there has been a lot of sleepless nights over this little thing. My email was not displaying the time coming in.
    Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Mark Tobin

    Thank you so much.
    I wasn’t having the exact problem you cite, but rather was unable to enter new events in Entourage’s calendar.
    Each time, no matter how I changed each possible variable, I received the warning that my event (which was blatantly in the future) was occurring in the past.
    I’ve been exchanging emails with Microsoft support and I may as well have been asking my mum for all the help they provided.
    Then I stumble upon this site and ta-da! It all works.
    Thanks, thanks, thanks!

  • G

    24 hours clock for military users???!!
    I don’t think so.
    Every person in Europe and Asia is taught the 24 hour clock and uses it in every day life.

  • Michael Lehrman

    I need to use the 24 hour clock system. I’ve meticulously followed the instructions–shut down and rebooted, etc., but can’t get the 24 hour time to come up in Entourage Calendar. Are the old 12 hour settings lodged in a cache that has to be emptied before the new 24 hour clock system can be implemented?
    Many thanks,

  • William M. Smith

    Entourage 2008, I believe, was the first version of Entourage to use Mac OS X’s system settings. If you’re using something earlier then you may need to upgrade first.
    If this doesn’t answer your question then I suggest asking in the Entourage newsgroup or on our YouTalk mailing list. That way the public can benefit from your question and the answers you receive.

  • Ron Edwards

    Can anyone tell me when using the 24 hour settings, if Entourage 2008 calendar times ending on the hour should be showing as 12 for 12pm? I can’t for the life of me get it to show 12:00. I’m talking in monthly view also! Thanks

  • MichaellaS

    tks for the effort you put in here I appreciate it!

  • gdub16

    I change the international setting above and now Entourage is showing same time stamp on all emails to value I change following instructions above?
    Entourage 12.2.0 and osx 10.5.7 build 9j61