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How To: Convert a text field to a date field

Summary

Starting at the 10.0 version of ArcGIS Desktop, a geoprocessing tool has been included that allows for the conversion of a text field that contains dates or times to a formatted date field.

Instructions provided describe the steps for using the 'Convert Time Field' geoprocessing tool. In this article's example, the time format 'yyyyMMdd' is used.
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Procedure

  1. Open ArcMap and add the layer or table that includes the text field to be converted to a formatted date field.
  2. Open the Convert Time Field geoprocessing tool: ArcToolbox > Data Management Tools > Fields > Convert Time Field.
  3. Populate the Input fields:

    a) From the 'Input Table' drop-down menu, select the layer or table that contains the field to be converted.

    b) From the 'Input Time Field' drop-down select the name of the text field to be converted.

    The 'Input Time Format' field should be automatically populated. In this example its current time format (ex: yyyyMMdd)
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    Note:
    The Convert Time Field tool supports over 30 different pre-designated time and date formats.

  4. Populate the Output fields:

    a) Create a name for the new date field under 'Output Time Field'.

    b) From the 'Output Time Type' drop-down select DATE.

    Note:
    The Output Time Format and Locale fields are not selectable for the time type DATE. Select type 'TEXT', 'LONG', or any other type if a different time format for the output is desired.

  5. Click OK. The process completes and the dialog box closes. The date field is formatted to MM/dd/yyyy by default.
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