“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.
- The Date & Time System Preferences pane is only used to control the appearance of your clock in the menu bar.
- The International System Preferences pane is where you adjust the time format you prefer to use.
- 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.