Like it or not, we live and die by our calendars. Having a system that works for you, that keeps you on time, that tracks your events, that makes sure you're never late or in the wrong place for your appointments isn't a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. While the built-in OS X Calendar app... serviceable, it's by no means an all-star. But that's fine! There are plenty of great alternatives, from simple add-ons to complete calendar replacements that can make keeping track of your day, week, and month faster, easier, and all-around better. So which one is the absolute best calendar app for you? Here are my favorites!
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Fantastical sits in the menu bar of your Mac until you need it. It also ties in the Reminders app for a complete all-in-one solution that can be accessed with a single click. The main view shows what you've got coming up in a single stream. With natural language input you can type something like "Lunch with Rene tomorrow at noon." and Fantastical for Mac takes care of the rest. There are also a lot of shortcuts and keystrokes that are useful for switching calendars. Fantastical for Mac is also a great compliment to its popular iPhone counterpart, making for a near complete workflow. The only thing missing is an iPad version, which is supposedly in the making as well.
If you want a minimalistic approach that's as simple to use as it is fast, Fantastical is it.
- $9.99 on sale - Download Now
- Fantastical 2 for iPhone, $1.99 on sale - Download Now
BusyCal 2 is a complete calendar replacement with natural language support that integrates not only with iCloud but Exchange, Google Calendar, and other CalDAV servers. Not only can you sync with all aforementioned calendar services, but share calendars within them too. Weather Underground integration also gives you a quick look at the weather on a particular day right inside BusyCal 2. One of my favorite features of BusyCal is the ability to arrange calendars into groups and further categorize them past what most other options let you. BusyCal also integrates all your reminders eliminating the need for a second app to manage them.
If you want fine tune control of your calendars, BusyCal offers that, and then some.
- $49.99 - Download Now
QuickCal is also less of a complete replacement as it is an add-on to the native calendar app. It can integrate with your existing calendars as well as sync with Google calendars. It supports natural language input for quick entry for both calendar events and reminders. In order to switch between lists, just type their name when typing the event and QuickCal automatically detects the change. You can access QuickCal from anywhere on your Mac with a simple keyboard shortcut, making it a great stay out of the way until you need it type solution.
If you are looking for more of a companion app that caters to the fastest entry method possible, QuickCal 3 fits the bill at a more than reasonable price.
- $2.99 - Download Now
- QuickCal for iPhone, $1.99 - Download Now
TimeWorks isn't necessarily a calendar app but does make it so you barely ever have to open it to view items. Basically TimeWorks overlays your calendar onto your desktop, or in a separate window. You can see a finish line that slowly moves across your desktop towards the end of the week. Where it's currently at quick shows at a glance where you should be in terms of tackling your calendar events and reminders. It's a simple app but a very effective one if you have a hard time staying on task.
For help staying on schedule and remembering what needs your attention right now, take a look at TimeWorks.
- $9.99 - Download Now
Blotter also works in conjunction with the native Calendar app and simply provides a gorgeous desktop overlay that gives you a complete look at what your day is look. In this aspect, it's similar to TimeWorks. But instead of focusing on the entire week, Blotter gives a better overall picture and offers more customizations than TimeWorks does, which makes it more ideal for people that plan ahead more than they need to concentrate on staying on task. It also takes on the transparency of whatever background you use on your Mac, which makes for no maintenance.
If you want to always know what you have coming up calendar and reminder wise with a simple glance at your desktop, Blotter is what you want.
- $9.99 - Download Now
Once you've picked your new calendar app, let me know — which one did you go with? And if you already have a favorite and I missed it, tell me — which is it and what makes it great?
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iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.