NEW: My new book Pro SwiftUI is out now – level up your SwiftUI skills today! >>

How to show a relative date and time using RelativeDateTimeFormatter

Swift version: 5.6

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

If you want to format dates and times in the form “5 hours ago” or “3 months ago”, Apple gives us a dedicated formatter called RelativeDateTimeFormatter. This is localized for many languages, so you’ll automatically get back strings that work in French, German, Chinese, and more, all depending on the user’s locale.

Here’s an example to get you started:

// the date you want to format
let exampleDate = Date.now.addingTimeInterval(-15000)

// ask for the full relative date
let formatter = RelativeDateTimeFormatter()
formatter.unitsStyle = .full

// get exampleDate relative to the current date
let relativeDate = formatter.localizedString(for: exampleDate, relativeTo: Date.now)

// print it out
print("Relative date is: \(relativeDate)")

That will print “Relative date is: 4 hours ago”.

“Full” has a precise meaning here: we’ll get back things like “2 months ago”, and if you prefer you can try spell out mode to get “two months ago” or even short mode to get “2 mo. ago”.

Having that second relativeTo parameter available allows us to calculate relative values between two arbitrary dates, rather than one date and the current date:

let relativeDate2 = formatter.localizedString(for: someDate, relativeTo: someOtherDate)

Tip: Although relative time formatters are great for things in recent history – the last few months, perhaps – they are less useful for larger time gaps. So, you might want to try checking whether your date is over six months ago, and if so use a custom formatter instead to give the specific date.

Hacking with Swift is sponsored by Play

SPONSORED Play is the first native iOS design tool created for designers and engineers. You can install Play for iOS and iPad today and sign up to check out the Beta of our macOS app with SwiftUI code export. We're also hiring engineers!

Click to learn more about Play!

Sponsor Hacking with Swift and reach the world's largest Swift community!

Available from iOS 13.0

Similar solutions…

About the Swift Knowledge Base

This is part of the Swift Knowledge Base, a free, searchable collection of solutions for common iOS questions.

BUY OUR BOOKS
Buy Pro Swift Buy Pro SwiftUI Buy Swift Design Patterns Buy Testing Swift Buy Hacking with iOS Buy Swift Coding Challenges Buy Swift on Sundays Volume One Buy Server-Side Swift Buy Advanced iOS Volume One Buy Advanced iOS Volume Two Buy Advanced iOS Volume Three Buy Hacking with watchOS Buy Hacking with tvOS Buy Hacking with macOS Buy Dive Into SpriteKit Buy Swift in Sixty Seconds Buy Objective-C for Swift Developers Buy Beyond Code

Was this page useful? Let us know!

Average rating: 4.8/5

 
Unknown user

You are not logged in

Log in or create account
 

Link copied to your pasteboard.