Is there a way to have any TODO (whether entered by org-capture or manually) to get a CREATED timestamp added like SCHEDULED and DEADLINE ?

i.e. today I have entries like:

* TODO call mom  
  SCHEDULED: <2017-09-26 Tue>
* TODO walk the dog
* TODO buy milk

and over time the list grows and I often find myself wanting to clear out old entries or review if still relevant - but without any info on when entries was added that is hard. I would love if I could tell org-mode to add CREATED: so the above would be:

* TODO call mom  
  SCHEDULED: <2017-09-26 Tue> CREATED: [2015-09-26]
* TODO walk the dog
  CREATED: [2017-09-21]
* TODO buy milk
  CREATED: [2017-01-26]

Any ideas/suggestions?

I'm thinking an on-save action or similar would be best but not sure how to about it.

3 Answers 3


I typically insert TODO headings using M-S-return (bound to org-insert-todo-heading). You might find this suitable for your purposes:

(defun my/log-todo-creation-date (&rest ignore)
  "Log TODO creation time in the property drawer under the key 'CREATED'."
  (when (and (org-get-todo-state)
             (not (org-entry-get nil "CREATED")))
    (org-entry-put nil "CREATED" (format-time-string (cdr org-time-stamp-formats)))))

(advice-add 'org-insert-todo-heading :after #'my/log-todo-creation-date)
(advice-add 'org-insert-todo-heading-respect-content :after #'my/log-todo-creation-date)
(advice-add 'org-insert-todo-subheading :after #'my/log-todo-creation-date)

If you want to add creation dates to TODO's that you typed manually you could catch those proactively by (temporarily) advising org-get-todo-state itself (so that org internals effectively create the property entries for you). Alternately, the org-after-todo-state-change-hook hook may be sufficient. This would log creation dates for existing TODO's the next time you cycle/set the todo state (such as with org-shiftright):

(add-hook 'org-after-todo-state-change-hook #'my/log-todo-creation-date)

These create a property entry like the following:

** TODO Test
:CREATED:  <2017-09-26 Tue 23:33>
  • yeah I got that somewhat working - I really would just prefer the CREATED part would be listed same way as CLOSED, SCHEDULED, DEADLINE is so it doesn't add 3 more lines. Sep 27, 2017 at 9:53
  • I use (org-entry-put nil "CREATED" (format-time-string "[%Y-%m-%d %a]")) to insert an inactive time stamp in the same format as Org, otherwise these items show up in agenda view.
    – emonigma
    Oct 29, 2018 at 11:20
  • @miguelmorin This gives me an error in doom emacs: Error in private config: config.el, (void-function org-entry-put).
    – azureai
    Mar 16, 2021 at 22:21

I use the org-expiry package to do this. Here's what I've got in my init file:

  (req-package org-expiry
    :loader :el-get-local
    :require org-capture
    :init (progn
             org-expiry-created-property-name "CREATED" ; Name of property when an item is created
             org-expiry-inactive-timestamps   t         ; Don't have everything in the agenda view

Notice that I'm using req-package. You could create a similar effect with just this:

(require 'org-expiry)
(setq org-expiry-created-property-name "CREATED")
  • I added those but I see nothing being added when I type in "* TODO test" how is it triggered ? Sep 26, 2017 at 7:54
  • it seem to only add something when I change the type (i.e. from TODO to DONE) and then it add it as a properties section meaning it gets very verbose - but I guess I can live with that for now. Just need to grok how to get it actually added to all things I create. Sep 26, 2017 at 9:38
  • Out of curiosity, why do you have :require org-capture in there?
    – kshenoy
    Jun 28, 2018 at 16:57
  • @kshenoy, you're right, it's unnecessary. Currently, I'm using this code: (req-package org-expiry :el-get t :config (org-expiry-insinuate) (customize-set-variable 'org-expiry-inactive-timestamps t)) ; don't have everything in the agenda view Jun 29, 2018 at 20:36
  • @jeffkowalski Thanks for the explanation. I wasn't sure if I was unaware of some dependency between the two.
    – kshenoy
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:13

Cross-posted from a similar question on StackOverflow.

Here is a lightweight solution that does not require an external package, adapted from the answer by @ebpa but without the extra lines for the properties drawer. It works with org-capture and with M-S-RET. Put this in your Emacs initialization file (e.g. ~/.emacs):

(defun insert-created-date(&rest ignore)
  (insert (format-time-string
       (concat "\nCREATED: "
           (cdr org-time-stamp-formats))
  (org-back-to-heading) ; in org-capture, this folds the entry; when inserting a heading, this moves point back to the heading line
  (move-end-of-line()) ; when inserting a heading, this moves point to the end of the line

                    ; add to the org-capture hook
(add-hook 'org-capture-before-finalize-hook 

                    ; hook it to adding headings with M-S-RET
                    ; do not add this to org-insert-heading-hook, otherwise this also works in non-TODO items
                    ; and Org-mode has no org-insert-todo-heading-hook
(advice-add 'org-insert-todo-heading :after #'insert-created-date)

I did not add this function to state changes (e.g., from plain heading to TODO) because then @ebpa's answer is cleaner.

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