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When do the clocks change? And where’s the summer time setting on my device?

Clocks change
Turn back time: check your summer time settings

Most modern gadgets use the internet to ensure clocks change automatically, whether it’s your phone, laptop or smart speaker. But there are still many electronic devices that, for reasons of cost or age, will remain totally dependent on you to ensure their time is correct. And, twice a year, that means changing it by an hour to compensate for British Summer Time.

Learn why we change the clocks, when they change and how you can switch the automatic updating on internet-connected devices.

Why do we change the clocks?

You can blame the Summer Time Act in 1916, where British Summer Time was introduced. It was designed to save energy, reducing domestic coal consumption, and to help increase supplies available for the huge manufacturing cost of the war effort (Germany was the first country to do this on 30th April 1916).

William Willett, a builder, felt that we were otherwise wasting valuable hours of light in the summer months and so campaigned for the change. He started his campaign in 1907 but, sadly, died before the new law was brought in. However, his original proposal was to move the clocks forward by 80 minutes, in 20-minute weekly steps on Sundays in April and by the reverse procedure in September.

British Summer Time has remained controversial ever since, with many groups advocating for it not to occur at all, and some even wanting “double summer time” (where the clocks change by two hours).

When do they change?

The clocks go forward an hour on the last Sunday of March at 1am. This means that you (potentially) lose an hour of sleep. They then go back an hour on the last Sunday of October at 2am. This is the glorious time where you gain an extra hour’s sleep.

For 2018, this means the clocks will return back to Greenwich Mean Time on October 28th. In 2019, they will go forward for British Summer Time on March 31st and then return, once again, on October 27th.

Can I stop my device from updating?

Don’t want your clocks to change automatically? Unfortunately, most internet-connected device will just do it automatically, with no option to prevent it (Amazon Alexa devices, for example). However, your computer, phone or tablet can be switched off.


Android is the trickier one to explain, due to the number of re-skinned versions, where menu options have changed. However, the following should cover most devices:

  • Settings -> System -> Date & Time
  • Click on the toggle named “Automatic date & time”

Samsung owners can probably find the Date & Time menu option within “Settings -> General Management”.

Amazon Fire devices do not have an option to switch off the automatic date/time update.

Windows 10

  • Right click on the date/time in the taskbar
  • Click on “Adjust date/time” in the menu that then appears
  • Click the toggles named “Set the time automatically” and “Adjust for daylight saving time automatically”


  • Click on the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner of the screen
  • Now, head to System Preferences -> Date & Time
  • You’ll need to press the lock in the bottom left-hand corner of the window to allow changes
  • Now untick the option named “Set date and time automatically”


  • Head to Settings -> General -> Date & Time
  • Click the toggle named “Set Automatically”

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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