I am working quite a lot with Unix timestamps. I installed the ts package, but I am not able to create a key-binding to show the conversion of a timestamp to natural date format.

I would like to be able to show the natural day of a marked timestamp. Is it possible to show in the minibuffer? Or at cursor point?. I don't want to replace or timestamp or insert in the current buffer.

1 Answer 1


Here's a simple-minded implementation that tries to detect the Unix timestamp at point. Assuming it finds one, it converts it to a human-readable date and prints it in the echo area, in the format specified by ts-default-format (which is defined in the ts package):

(require 'ts)

(defun ndk/ts-at-point ()
  (unless (looking-at "[0-9.]")
  (let ((origin (point))
        beg end)
      (setq beg (+ origin (skip-chars-backward "0123456789."))))
      (setq end (+ origin (skip-chars-forward "0123456789."))))
    (list beg end)))

(defun ndk/show-date-at-point ()
  (let* ((r (ndk/ts-at-point))
         (beg (nth 0 r))
         (end (nth 1 r))
         (unix_ts (buffer-substring beg end)))
    (message (ts-format (make-ts :unix (float (read unix_ts)))))))

The first function scans backwards and forwards trying to find the beginning and end of the timestamp that point is on. It's a bit fragile and simplistic and can be fooled easily, but it should do the job if you don't push it too far.

It is called by ndk/show-date-at-point to get the limits, which then reads that portion of the buffer, tries to convert it to a float and, if it succeeds, it assumes it's a Unix timestamp and converts it to a human-readable date, which is then echoed in the echo area with message.

To use it, put your cursor on a timestamp and say M-x ndk/show-date-at-point. Or bind it to a key to make it easy to call:

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c d") #'ndk/show-date-at-point)

C-c d is supposed to be unused by packages so that users can use it for their own purposes, but if you happen to use it already, choose another C-c <letter> binding.

  • Is working perfectly. I just need to use global-set-key instead of global-define-key)
    – TeXtnik
    May 31, 2021 at 13:15
  • Fixed - thanks for pointing it out.
    – NickD
    May 31, 2021 at 14:25

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