You can now configure Windows 10 or 11 to display seconds in the taskbar’s notification area clock without using a third-party program. This is possible using a hidden registry setting in Windows 10, and it’s a built-in GUI option in Windows 11.
How to Show Seconds in the Tray Clock
To display seconds in the Windows 10 Taskbar clock, follow these steps:
- Start the Registry Editor (
- Go to the following registry branch:
- In the right pane, create a DWORD (32-bit) value named
ShowSecondsInSystemClockand set its data to
- Exit the Registry Editor.
- Log off and login back in. Or restart the Explorer shell for the change to take effect.
This registry edit works in Windows 10 v1607 and higher — tested up to v22H2.
The Windows 11 Moment 3 update (May 24, 2023—KB5026446 OS Build 22621.1778 Preview) brings back the option to display seconds on the taskbar clock. So, if your Windows 11 stable build is 22621.1778 or higher, you can show seconds in the tray clock.
- Open Settings → Personalization → Taskbar → Taskbar behaviors.
After installing the Moment 3 update, install the “Windows configuration update” that enables Moment 3 update features. To do so, open Settings → Windows Update. Enable the “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available”. Restart Windows and check for Windows Updates.
Install the May 24, 2023 Windows configuration update.
New! You can now choose to display seconds in the clock on the system tray. To turn this on, go to the Taskbar behaviors section in Settings > Personalization > Taskbar. You can also right-click the taskbar to quickly get to taskbar settings.
You’ll see the option named “Show seconds in system tray clock (uses more power)“. The option is disabled by default.
quote: In response to user feedback, we are introducing the capability to show seconds in the clock on the system tray. This feature can be enabled by toggling the option listed under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar in the Taskbar behavior section. You can also right-click on taskbar to quickly get to taskbar settings. We are beginning to roll this change out so not all Windows Insiders will see this change right away, but we hope to make it available to everyone soon.
A brief history of the Tray clock
In early beta versions of Windows 9x, the taskbar clock displayed seconds, with a blinking colon, as in digital wall clocks and wristwatches. But Microsoft noticed the considerable performance impact of those blinking clocks (every second).
Microsoft’s Raymond Chen has a blog post on this topic in his blog “The Old New Thing.” Check out Why doesn’t the clock in the taskbar display seconds?
Early beta versions of the taskbar clock did display seconds, and it even blinked the colon like some clocks do. But we had to remove it.
Because that blinking colon and the constantly-updating time were killing our benchmark numbers.
On machines with only 4MB of memory (which was the minimum memory requirement for Windows 95), saving even 4K of memory had a perceptible impact on benchmarks. By blinking the clock every second, this prevented not only the codepaths related to text rendering from ever being paged out, it also prevented the taskbar’s window procedure from being paged out, plus the memory for stacks and data, plus all the context structures related to the Explorer process. Add up all the memory that was being forced continuously present, and you had significantly more than 4K.
So out it went, and our benchmark numbers improved. The fastest code is code that doesn’t run.
So, due to a performance hit, the blinking colon (and the Seconds display) was later removed. Microsoft had to drop the feature to save that 4K of memory it occupied, taking into consideration the systems with low hardware specifications.
That’s history. Nowadays, computers are equipped with high-speed processors and more than sufficient RAM, and displaying seconds in the Taskbar clock wouldn’t cause a performance impact.
3rd-party Freeware to show seconds in the tray clock
These programs let you show seconds in the tray clock and customize how the date, day, and time are displayed in the notification area.
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