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How to get the time of the day in milliseconds?

I want to get the time of a day in milliseconds, I do not this day to have any specific date, just a time. I made something, thought it worked, but then went debugging and concluded that it doesn’t work how I want it to.

I want to use this to check if the current time is between both my specified startTime and endTime.

    long startTime = settings.getLong("startTime", 0);
    long endTime = settings.getLong("endTime", 0);

    if ((currentTime.getMillis() >= startTime)
            && (currentTime.getMillis() <= endTime)) {
            //Do stuff here


How I am setting the time of the propeties startTime and endTime:

                        Calendar startTime = Calendar.getInstance();
                        startTime.set(Calendar.HOUR_OF_DAY, 16);
                        startTime.set(Calendar.MINUTE, 00);

                        Calendar endTime = Calendar.getInstance();
                        endTime.set(Calendar.HOUR_OF_DAY, 16);
                        endTime.set(Calendar.MINUTE, 00);
                        endTime.add(Calendar.HOUR_OF_DAY, 11);

However this will mean that both startTimeand endTime will have this a specific date attached to it.

I hope I explained it well, any help is appreciated!


Avoid Milliseconds

No need to mess with milliseconds for your purpose. Using milliseconds for date-time is confusing and error-prone.

What you need is a decent date-time library rather than the notoriously troublesome bundled java.util.Date & .Calendar classes.


If you are certain you want to ignore dates and ignore time zones, here’s some example code using the LocalTime class offered by the third-party free-of-cost Joda-Time library.

LocalTime start = new LocalTime( 10, 0, 0 );
LocalTime stop = new LocalTime( 14, 30, 0 );
LocalTime target =;
boolean isNowInSpan = !( ( target.isBefore( target ) ) | ( target.isAfter( stop ) ) );

Adjust that last line according to your business logic needs. You might want:

  • The beginning and ending are inclusive
  • The beginning and ending are exclusive
  • Half-Open” where the beginning is inclusive and the ending is exclusive
    (usually best for date-time work)

Dump to console…

System.out.println( "start: " + start );
System.out.println( "stop: " + stop );
System.out.println( "target: " + target );
System.out.println( "isNowInSpan: " + isNowInSpan );

When run…

start: 10:00:00.000
stop: 14:30:00.000
target: 23:49:37.779
isNowInSpan: false

Another Example

Time-of-day-only is not usually the right way to go. When new to date-time work, a naïve programmer may at first think that time-only simplifies things. On the contrary, this example shows how spinning around the clock creates complications. Using date+time+timeZone is usually the best approach in the long run.

LocalTime now =;
LocalTime start = new LocalTime( 13, 0, 0, 0 );
LocalTime stop = start.plusHours( 11 );

System.out.println( "now: " + now );
System.out.println( "start: " + start );
System.out.println( "stop: " + stop );

if ( now.isAfter( start ) ) {
    System.out.println( "After start" );

if ( now.isBefore( stop ) ) {
    System.out.println( "Before stop" );

When run…

now: 14:00:32.496
start: 13:00:00.000
stop: 00:00:00.000
After start


Java 8 brings the new java.time package, inspired by Joda-Time, defined by JSR 310.

In java.time, you will find a LocalTime class similar to the one in Joda-Time.