The Best Calendar App for macOS (That You’ll Use) in 2019
Utilities • Dec.11, 2018
Do you know what’s awesome about Calendar apps?
When used properly, they can be better than a real-life personal assistant. Consider this scenario:
You wake up one day without any idea about what lies ahead. In a single glance, you’d know what’s ahead, how’s your day and who you should wish Happy Birthday.
For professionals, there are more possibilities, such as having a Clear Agenda and making sure that you don’t stay dizzy for the afternoon meeting you have.
But, wait, there’s one condition:
You should be using one of the best calendar apps out there.
If you’re a Mac user and were thinking about using the default Calendar, you’re at the wrong place.
What’s wrong with the default Calendar app on macOS?
Or, why did I leave one of the well-integrated apps on Mac?
There are many awesome built-in apps on macOS. But, Calendar isn’t one of them.
Of course, it works well with iCloud and your Apple ID but that’s it. It has an intuitive UI too. The moment you talk about customization and some innovative features, the fame of Apple Calendar starts to fade away.
I personally had used Apple Calendar for a few months after I got my Mac. Of course, I enjoyed the perks of native notifications and seamless integration with macOS, but it didn’t last long.
Or, to be frank, it didn’t last after I came across some awesome calendar apps for macOS.
The last time I checked, Apple Calendar in macOS isn’t for everyone. And, don’t even think about managing multiple profiles — say Work and College — using the same panel.
So, I figured, almost everyone needs one alternative to the default calendar app on Mac.
Picking the right calendar app for macOS — what to look for
There is no scarcity for macOS calendar apps. Regardless of who you are, there is one calendar app for you. However, while selecting the right calendar apps for Mac, we had a strong criteria in mind.
- Ease of use: As we said, a calendar app can be your personal assistant. But, it should be easy to use and access, right? So, we wanted the best calendar app to have an intuitive interface, with different viewing options and control.
- Performance: The next criteria was obviously how the calendar app performs. Of course, it must cater to the common user and the power user. Your 70-year-old grandma and 15-year-old daughter should find it easy to use.
- macOS integration: I mean, you can’t expect the level of integration from default Calendar app. Still, the best calendar app should work fine with macOS. At least when it comes to on-time notifications, you should not have to use a third-party tool.
- Multi-device support: As it happens, many macOS calendars are available for other platforms such as iOS and Android. It’s great to have a calendar app that syncs your events, anniversaries and all the agenda with multiple devices you own.
- Integrations: You may have accounts in other Calendar services apart from iCloud. The basic example would be Google Calendar. So, we made sure that our best calendar app offers support for some of the third-party calendar services as well.
- Extra features: We love additional features in every macOS app. So is the case of calendar apps also. We have chosen a Calendar app that brings some innovative features to the table.
Of course, we didn’t want to choose an app that’s highly expensive. So, all the great calendar apps you would find here are reasonable at the maximum level.
Now that you have an idea, shall we check out the best calendar apps out there for macOS users?
Just so you know, we have been using most of these calendar apps for over a year, and we love’em.
The best calendar app — BusyCal
BusyCal is, hands down, the best calendar app you can find for macOS right now. It packs so many features that we wish the Apple Calendar had.
It doesn’t stop there: bringing some innovative features, BusyCal is changing how you manage your agenda-planning, event-chronicling and of course the whole experience of using a calendar.
Without further ado, we will check out the various aspects of BusyCal you should know about.
BusyCal has one of the most intuitive Calendar interfaces we’ve seen. And, it’s okay if you confuse BusyCal for macOS Calendar at the first glance. As it happens, BusyCal design has taken inspiration from what Apple had done.
We believe the UI of BusyCal is as professional as it gets. Let’s take the case of sidebars: they are completely flexible. If you want a seamless view of the current month or week, you can hide the sidebars and enjoy it. On the other hand, if you prefer controls on each side, BusyCal has got you covered there too.
BusyCal offers five different viewing options. If you are a busy professional with too many appointments on a day, you can choose the Daily view. The other options include Week, Month, Year and List. I prefer Monthly Viewing Option for the clean looks.
Like icing on the cake, BusyCal offers support for graphical elements as well. You can include smileys, icons and other visual elements in event entries. The Month View looks just amazing when you’re done. All in all, the UI of BusyCal has been kept as minimal as possible.
When you enter the Preferences tab, though, things start changing.
Integration with macOS
BusyCal is one of the very few macOS calendar apps that integrate so well with the macOS system. Let’s start with the notifications.
Notifications are available from the pane. In addition, BusyCal can show you dedicated pop-ups as well. That is, once you have created an event, you will get a prompt at the particular time. Suppose you had an event at 9 o’ clock but you started the computer at 10, you’d still see the pop-up message.
BusyCal also offers options to Dismiss or Snooze the notification. Personally speaking, I use BusyCal as my to do list as well. Thanks to the wonderful notification/pop-up system it has, I almost never miss appointments (or exams) I have.
There are some additional features too. Suppose you want to be notified when you have to leave for office. Just set the location and select the travel time. BusyCal would calculate the estimated travel time and notify you promptly. Awesome, huh?
In short, BusyCal integrates very well with the macOS system. Even up to an extent that I never miss Apple’s.
With BusyCal, you need a single calendar app for all your different calendar needs.
BusyCal offers complete support for services like Google Calendar, iCloud, Exchange, Office 365 and a few calDAV servers in use. Frux, Kerio and Zimbra are compatible with BusyCal.
Did we say that BusyCal has an iOS version too? It means all your calendar entries will be available via your iPhone too. It packs almost all the features you have seen in the macOS version — and something more too.
Altogether, the Sync and Multi-Device Support of BusyCal are just amazing.
As we said earlier, BusyCal packs many features that we wish Apple Calendar had. Of course, we cannot list all of them, but here’s the gist:
- Integrated to-dosTo-Do Entries have been integrated to BusyCal at the core level. Just as you create normal calendar entries, you can add to-do tasks as well. BusyCal even has a dedicated section where it displays all the to-dos on a particular day. You can prioritize individual To-Dos and Mark them Complete when you’re done.
- Menu-bar appIf you want to have a quick look at the things to do ahead, the Menu-bar Widget of BusyCal would help you a lot. It gives a quick glance over the current month as well as the list of calendar entries you have made. Its best part is that the menu-bar app works even when you’ve closed BusyCal window.
- Built-in alarmsBusyCal offers an innovative way to deal with alarms. There’s a floating window where you can set alarms and manage existing ones. Once again, BusyCal alarms would work fine even when the main app isn’t running on your Mac.
- Quick entry and NL supportBusyCal not only allows you to make calendar entries quickly but also supports Natural Language. You simply type ‘Movie at Providence Mall at 9PM Tomorrow’ and BusyCal will add the entry. This is great when you’ve to add many entries at once too.
- Multiple calendar supportYou can create multiple calendars and calendar sets using BusyCal. There is always an option to build multiple categories inside individual categories. All these features help you keep different activities under a specified location.
- Rich info supportFor each event you add on BusyCal, you can add as much information as you want. There are a number of areas such as Travel Time, Alarms, Tags and Categories to choose from. You can even add Files, Attendees and URL as a part of the task info. I find this feature great for work management.
There are also some miscellaneous features in the package. For instance, BusyCal shows the current weather right next to each date. One thing we loved about BusyCal is that it has added all the features with no impact on usability.
BusyCal also is one of the most customizable calendar apps for macOS. From the basic controls to how it is showing you minute details, everything in BusyCal can be changed. For instance, you can decide what should appear on the Info Panel.
Similarly, you can control how backups take place inside BusyCal. And, if you go to Advanced Settings, there is a bunch of options that you can explore and enable. We would give a 5-star rating for BusyCal as far as the aspect of customization is concerned.
We repeat, BusyCal is for Pros.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Okay, there’s no doubt that BusyCal is the best calendar app you can find for. However, this does not mean that BusyCal is the perfect calendar app. As it happens, there are some issues with the app. They are not any deal-breakers though. So, if you are planning to purchase BusyCal, you should know about these issues.
While BusyCal offers complete support for accounts like iCloud, it’s not really easy to set things up. You will have to create a third-party app password via Apple ID, which can take some time. For someone who’s first to calendar apps, this process can be a pain in the ass.
Aesthetics of BusyCal isn’t the best either. Just so you know, we love the UI — it’s clean, minimal and does the job. However, there are people who prefer a rather colorful UI with dynamic effects and animations. You can’t find any of these things in BusyCal.
Also, we are missing out some features that we have seen in other programs. For instance, BusyCal is not a great choice if you want to collaborate with your team or manage everything from the notification panel. It does not have widget support either.
The point is this: all these features are optional. These things are not going to affect how you use the calendar app for day-to-day purposes. I use BusyCal every single day and the lack of colors or the toughness of initial set-up doesn’t bother me. I ain’t a team-player, but you may be one. So, pay attention.
Availability & pricing
BusyCal is available for Mac and iOS. As we said earlier, multi-device sync helps you keep all the entries under control. Just so you know, BusyContacts — a sister app of BusyCal — can easily be integrated with this app. There is no word over Windows/Android versions, though.
BusyCal has been reasonably priced at $49.99 and it’s available via Setapp as well. The best part is that you can try the full version of BusyCal for 30 days before actually purchasing it. Chances are, though, you will get the app once you’ve got the hang of it.
The final word
Is BusyCal awesome? Definitely. Is BusyCal the best calendar app for macOS? We think so. We’ve been using the app for somewhat a year and we love it. From the UI to the miscellaneous features it has, we love a lot of things about BusyCal.
And, we’d recommend this app to everyone who badly need an upgrade from Apple Calendar.
Are you looking for a rather colorful alternative to BusyCal? Fantastical for Mac would be a great option for sure. It too is a worthy upgrade from the default calendar app. It brings features that are smart, convenient and flexible. As we said earlier, the UI of Fantastical looks just dope. Filled with colors and various viewing options, you will never get lost.
There are obviously a few extra features we loved in Fantastical. For instance, it has 100% support for natural language use and quick entries. Similarly, in-built Reminders will surely help you keep things under control. It needs to be noted that Fantastical was a simple menu-bar app previously. When the developers maximized it into a full macOS app, there have surely been some performance boosts.
When it comes to compatibility, Fantastical does not let you down, either. You can use this calendar app to manage multiple accounts from services like Google, iCloud and others. Thanks to the colorful sidebar, it is very easy to take care of hundreds of to-dos or reminders you may have. Even if you are using the menu-bar version of the app, it provides proper insight to your upcoming days.
There are also a number of features to love in Fantastical. For instance, it integrates quite well with macOS system, especially when it comes to widgets. If you are a fan of the notification panel, you can bring in one widget too. Considering the Smart features, Fantastical lets you configure your events based on geo-fence as well.
Another feature we loved in Fantastical is Scheduling, if you have support for a mail server. That is, you can schedule a particular event by also considering the time-slots of your colleagues, which is great. In addition to all this, Fantastical offers dedicated apps for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Because the content is synced perfectly, you can keep everything under control.
In the long run, Fantastical is offering a lot features, but the question is different: do you need them all? Or, does it have features that you need? This is where all the differences are made. For instance, unless you’re working in a team, you won’t need some of the features. In the same way, if you are not a fan of the system widgets, you lose one point there too.
Fantastical for macOS is available for $49.99. But you can check out the 21-day free trial before purchasing it fully. As we said, we’d recommend Fantastical if you need a colorful alternative to BusyCal. Of course, as you have seen, you’re missing out a few features.
Other options we considered
We had actually considered 10+ calendar apps in total, but we think three apps deserve special mention. If you think the two apps we’ve selected are not for you, you can consider the following choices as well.
Calendar 366 II
Calendar 366 II is a macOS calendar app that does not have a Windows view. In other words, it’s a complete menu-bar-based calendar app for Mac. This is a great consideration if you need a calendar app with better views. Of course, because you don’t have to shift to another window, there is less distraction too. although not comparable to our top picks, Calendar 366 II packs some features inside.
For instance, it feels really easy to find calendar entries from Calendar 366 II, thanks to support for Spotlight Search. You can also make use of the Touch Bar support if you have an applicable device. You can even go to the extent of using Calendar 366 II as a Clock Replacement on your macOS. Despite all these features — along with standard syncing options, Calendar 366 II lacks some Pro features everyone wants.
Calendar 366 II is available for macOS and iOS. It costs $14.99 in total, but 21-day free trial is also available.
Informant is yet another popular calendar app you can find for macOS. It does not have the most modern UI so to speak, but there is a lot to explore. Compared to many of our primary considerations, Informant has a clean way of arranging elements. You can not only choose between Viewing Modes but also customize how individual events appear.
However, we believe Informant compromises on the Performance aspect. While it’s a cleaner alternative to default Apple calendar, there aren’t many features for commons. We, however, loved the menu-bar app that Informant comes with. You can easily add events your calendar from the menu bar itself. It should be noted that Informant offers support for all the standard calendar actions, though.
Informant is available for macOS and iOS. It’s priced at $49.99 but you can check out the free trial.
Google Calendar isn’t technically a macOS calendar app, but rather a Web-based solution. However, if you’re someone who uses a lot of Google products, we’d recommend it as an alternative to Apple Calendar. This is the point: all your activities will be synced all the time. And, in the course of time, Google Calendar has been adding a lot of features to the lot.
Of course, Google Calendar does not have a dedicated macOS app right now. You will have to keep a window open in your favorite browser. Just in case you don’t know, Google Calendar has a cool way of arranging all the information. You would not have trouble in getting used to it. You can also get some G-Suite add-ons for Google Calendar if you’re interested.
Google Calendar is free to use and you can access it from almost any device.
The bottom line
So, after going through all the apps that topped our list, what do you think? We think you’d agree that getting BusyCal is one of the great things for your Mac. It’s one of the powerful macOS apps that everyone should have. You may be a busy professional, a student with tight schedule or a simple freelancer. This app can help you get all your tasks under control, also enhancing the overall productivity. And, as we said, if you are part of Setapp subscription, you’d have instant access to BusyCal.