How To: Convert a text field to a date field


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.


  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)
    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.

    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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