Strftime Python Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to this comprehensive tutorial on strftime in Python. Strftime stands for “string format time”, a method that helps modify and control the output format of dates and time in Python. Having control over this aspect of your code can be crucial whether you’re designing a game that needs a real-world timestamp, or you’re coding a project that involves scheduling and time tracking.

What is Strftime in Python?

Strftime is a method in Python that converts a datetime object into a string with a specified format. Working within the datetime module, this function allows you to present time-related data in a more readable or personalized format.

Why Should I Learn It?

Understanding strftime and how to wield its power can give your projects a professional edge, while also making them more user-friendly. If you’re looking to create a game where players can see their exact completion time in a format they recognize, or if you’re creating an application that sends scheduled notifications, mastering strftime can be the key. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of strftime in Python.

This knowledge of strftime isn’t just for beginners, it’s also a valuable tool for experienced Python coders, as it adds another layer of detail and personalization to any time-sensitive project.

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Strftime Basics – How to Use It?

Let’s kick off with a simple example where we convert the current date and time into a formatted string.

import datetime

current_date_time =
formatted_date_time = current_date_time.strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S")

In this piece of code, `%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S` is the format string. Each special character preceded by a `%` corresponds to a specific element of the date or time. Here, we’re specifying year, month, day, hours, minutes, and seconds.

Next, let’s explore a few commonly used strftime directives:

current_date_time =

# Get the year in four digits

# Get the year in two digits

# Get the month as a zero-padded decimal 

# Get the day of the month as a zero-padded decimal

# Get the weekday as a locale’s abbreviated name

Advanced Strftime Usage Examples

Beyond the basic year, month, day, hours, minutes, seconds, Python offers an array of other directives you can use to meet your unique requirements.

Let’s convert the current date and time into more complex formats:

current_date_time =

# Get the date in the format 'MM/DD/YY'

# Get the date in the format 'Month Day, Year'
print(current_date_time.strftime("%B %d, %Y"))

# Get the time in the 12-hour clock
print(current_date_time.strftime("%I:%M:%S %p"))

# Get the full date and time

In this way, we can use strftime to format our date and time into almost any configuration we can imagine. Learning strftime in Python allows us to have more control over how we represent time in our code, providing our programs with added flexibility and usability.

Datetime Objects with Strftime

Let’s now look at how to use strftime to convert datetime objects into formatted strings.

# Creating a datetime object for a specific date and time
my_date_time = datetime.datetime(2020, 5, 17, 23, 45, 12)

# Convert it into a string with the format 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS'
print(my_date_time.strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"))

# Convert it into the format 'MM/DD/YY HH:MM:SS'
print(my_date_time.strftime("%m/%d/%y %H:%M:%S"))

# Convert to the format 'Month Day, Year at HH:MM:SS'
print(my_date_time.strftime("%B %d, %Y at %H:%M:%S"))

With strftime, datetime objects can be converted into more meaningful and user-friendly strings based on your application preference.

Strftime with Locale’s Full Weekday and Month Name

Let’s see how we can get the locale’s full weekday and month name using strftime.

current_date_time =

# Get the weekday as a locale’s full name

# Get the month as a locale’s full name

These strftime directives are especially handy when your application needs to display full names for weekdays or months.

Strftime Week and Year Directives

Python’s strftime also includes directives for week and year.

current_date_time =

# Get the week number of the year (Sunday as the first day of the week)

# Get the week number of the year (Monday as the first day of the week)

# Get the year for the week where Monday is the first day of the week

# Get the year for the week where Sunday is the first day of the week

Here, you’ll notice two sets of directives for the week of the year and its corresponding year. The difference lies in the first day of the week— either Sunday or Monday.

Strftime with Locale’s Appropriate Date and Time Representation

Last but not least, let’s display the date and time in the format appropriate for the current locale, using strftime:

current_date_time =

# Get the locale’s appropriate date representation

# Get the locale’s appropriate time representation

This is essential for applications that are used across different locales, as it improves user readability and localization.

Where to Go Next?

Now that you’ve grasped the basics of strftime in Python, don’t stop here. There’s a lot more for us to unravel and explore together.

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Whether you want to add a precise timestamp to your games, write a scheduling project, or simply explore the mechanics of Python’s datetime module, understanding strftime will certainly equip you with an additional edge. Offering flexibility and precision, it boosts the level of sophistication and user-friendliness in your applications.

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