How to Set a 12-Hour Clock on Your iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setting a 12-hour clock on your iPhone is a simple process that can be accomplished in a few steps. By opening the Settings app, tapping on ‘General,’ then ‘Date & Time,’ and toggling the ’24-Hour Time’ option off, your iPhone will switch to a 12-hour format. This is a quick and easy way to ensure that your iPhone displays the time in a way that’s most familiar to you.

After you complete this action, your iPhone will display the time in a 12-hour format, which includes AM and PM indicators. This is the format commonly used in the United States and other countries that follow the 12-hour clock system.


Have you ever glanced at your iPhone only to be momentarily confused by a 24-hour clock format? You’re not alone. Many people prefer the familiarity of a 12-hour clock, which clearly differentiates between morning and evening with AM and PM indicators. This guide will walk you through the simple process of setting a 12-hour clock on your iPhone, ensuring that you easily tell the time at a glance without any confusion.

This topic is particularly important for those who have recently moved to a country that uses the 12-hour format or have changed their iPhone’s settings accidentally. It’s also crucial for folks who find the military time format (24-hour clock) a bit perplexing, especially when it’s late in the day and mental math just seems like a hassle. Whether you’re an iPhone newbie, a traveler, or someone who simply prefers the 12-hour time format, this article will provide you with the necessary steps to customize your device to your liking.

Tutorial: Setting a 12‐Hour Clock on an iPhone

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to know that changing your iPhone to a 12-hour clock will also adjust how time is displayed in all apps that use the system time. This includes the lock screen, the home screen, and any app that uses the date and time, such as Calendar and Clock.

Step 1: Open the Settings App

Locate and tap on the ‘Settings’ app on your iPhone.

The Settings app is typically found on the home screen and is represented by a gear icon. If you can’t find it, you can swipe down on the home screen and use the search function to locate it.

Step 2: Tap on ‘General’

Scroll down and tap on the ‘General’ option within the Settings app.

The General settings are where you can find a variety of options to customize your iPhone’s system preferences.

Step 3: Tap on ‘Date & Time’

Within the General settings, locate and tap on the ‘Date & Time’ option.

The Date & Time settings allow you to adjust how your iPhone displays the time and date, including the time zone and whether your device sets the time automatically.

Step 4: Toggle ’24-Hour Time’ Off

Find the ’24-Hour Time’ option and toggle the switch to the off position.

When the 24-Hour Time option is toggled off, your iPhone will automatically switch to a 12-hour format, displaying AM or PM next to the time.


FamiliarityThe 12-hour clock format is widely used in many countries, making it a familiar way to tell time for a large number of users.
Ease of UseWith AM and PM indicators, there’s no need to do mental calculations to determine whether it’s morning or evening.
ConsistencySetting your iPhone to a 12-hour clock ensures time is displayed in the same format across all devices and systems that follow this convention.


Limited Global UseThe 12-hour clock format isn’t used worldwide, which may cause confusion while traveling to countries that use the 24-hour format.
Potential for MistakesWithout the precision of a 24-hour clock, users might set alarms or appointments at the wrong time of day.
Less InformationThe 12-hour format doesn’t indicate the exact time of day as clearly as the 24-hour format, which can be more informative for scheduling and planning.

Additional Information

When setting a 12-hour clock on your iPhone, you should also consider the impact it may have on your daily routine and app usage. For example, if you use international apps or communicate with people in different time zones, the 12-hour format might not be ideal. Additionally, some people find the 24-hour clock to be more precise and less prone to errors, especially when setting alarms or calendar events.

Another tip is to ensure that your iPhone is set to update the time automatically. This feature, found in the same Date & Time settings, ensures that your iPhone adjusts for daylight saving time and time zone changes. This can be particularly handy if you’re a frequent traveler or if you live in an area that observes daylight saving time.

Lastly, remember that changing the time format on your iPhone will not affect how time is displayed in your emails, messages, or social media posts. These platforms have their own settings that control how dates and times are presented.


  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on ‘General’
  3. Tap on ‘Date & Time’
  4. Toggle ’24-Hour Time’ off

Frequently Asked Questions

Will changing the time format affect my alarms?

No, changing the time format will not affect your alarms. They will still go off at the set time, regardless of whether you use a 12-hour or 24-hour clock.

Can I switch back to a 24-hour clock easily?

Yes, you can switch back to a 24-hour clock by following the same steps and toggling the ’24-Hour Time’ option back on.

Does the 12-hour format affect the Calendar app?

The 12-hour format will affect how times are displayed in the Calendar app, with events showing AM or PM indicators.

Is the 12-hour format the default setting on iPhones?

The default time format on iPhones depends on the region settings of your device. Some regions use the 24-hour format, while others use the 12-hour format.

Will this setting change the time format on my Apple Watch?

Yes, if your Apple Watch is paired with your iPhone, it will mirror the time format settings you select on your iPhone.


Setting a 12-hour clock on an iPhone is a simple process that can make a big difference in how you interact with your device. Whether it’s for the sake of familiarity, ease of use, or consistency with other devices, switching to a 12-hour format can be a small change with a significant impact.

Just remember, while the 12-hour format may be more intuitive for some, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks and adjust your settings according to your personal needs and preferences. With this guide, you now have the knowledge to customize your iPhone’s time display to suit your lifestyle.