(or emacs irrelevant)

Change the current time in Org-mode


I'm constantly amazed by other people's Org workflows. Now that the weekly tips are a thing, I see more and more cool Org configs, and I'm inspired to get more organized myself.

My own Org usage is simplistic in some areas, and quite advanced in others. While I wrote a lot of code to manipulate Org files ( worf, org-download, orca, org-fu, counsel), the amount of Org files and TODO items that I have isn't huge:

(counsel-git "org$ !log")
;; 174 items

(counsel-rg "\\* DONE|CANCELLED|TODO")
;; 8103 items

Still, that's enough to get out-of-date files: just today I dug up a file with 20 outstanding TODO items that should have been canceled last November!

How to close 20 TODOs using a timestamp in the past

When I cancel an item, pressing tc (mnemonic for TODO-Cancel), Org mode inserts a time stamp with the current time. However, for this file, I wanted to use October 31st 2018 instead of the current time. Org mode already has options like org-use-last-clock-out-time-as-effective-time, org-use-effective-time, and org-extend-today-until that manipulate the current time for timestamps, but they didn't fit my use case.

So I've advised org-current-effective-time:

(defvar-local worf--current-effective-time nil)

(defun worf--current-effective-time (orig-fn)
  (or worf--current-effective-time
      (funcall orig-fn)))

(advice-add 'org-current-effective-time
            :around #'worf--current-effective-time)

(defun worf-change-time ()
  "Set `current-time' in the current buffer for `org-todo'.
Use `keyboard-quit' to unset it."
  (setq worf--current-effective-time
        (condition-case nil
            (org-read-date t 'totime)
          (quit nil))))

A few things of note here:

  • worf--current-effective-time is buffer-local, so that it modifies time only for the current buffer
  • I re-use the awesome org-read-date for a nice visual feedback when inputting the new time
  • Instead of having a separate function to undo the current-time override, I capture the quit signal that C-g sends.


The above code is already part of worf and is bound to cT. I even added it to the manual. I hope you find it useful. Happy organizing!