7 Reasons Why BusyCal is Better Than iCal

One of the excellent tools that comes standard with OSX is iCal, a basic calendar and task management program. Although it is a sufficient program for many Apple users, there are times when it would be great to have greater functionality, and a bit more flexibility than comes out of the box. Fortunately, there’s a program called BusyCal.

Not only does it have the same features and appearance as iCal with just a few tweaks, but it also provides many other functions that make it stand head and shoulders above its competition. Why? Well, I think that there are 7 good reasons…

1. Simpler Google Calendar Integration

Although iCal has its advantages, one glaring problem is the lack of straight-forward Google Calendar integration. Although it’s certainly possible to get this up and running, BusyCal makes the process a lot easier.

Week View in BusyCal

Week View in BusyCal

Just add your Google Calendar account to the available calendars, and then sync away. All you have to do is make an entry and almost immediately it appears on your Google Calendar account. This even works with the new changes to MobileMe (if you download the public beta of BusyCal 1.5), and allows you to push listings from BusyCal to Google Calendar.

2. Bonjour Sync

Whether it’s a small office in need of having a group calendar, or a family of four who want their schedules synced, BusyCal can get it done. The software uses Bonjour to allow syncing across a local area network, which negates the need for a dedicated server.

To make it even easier, BusyCal has volume pricing available, which is pretty affordable considering the advantages.

3. Live Weather Reports

Ever want to plan a trip to the beach? BusyCal uses AccuWeather to show the conditions and temperature to give you five days of notice to accurately plan your day.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can also show the phases of the moon as well. This comes in really handy for scheduling outdoor events, photo shoots, or just a road trip across the state.

Live Weather Updates for Five Days

Live Weather Updates for Five Days

4. Graphics

Each event can be assigned a small graphic to represent the activity at hand. Maybe you want to show a picture of a shamrock for Saint Patrick’s Day, or Santa for Christmas.

Whatever it is, you can add the graphic easily by just dragging it into the designated place on the info panel for the event. Then it shows up in all views, allowing you to quickly recognize what’s coming up in the day, month, or week.

5. List View

One of the cool things about iCal on the iPhone is list view, because it lets you see all of your scheduled events in one screen. Problem is, iCal doesn’t have that – but BusyCal does.

List View in BusyCal

List View in BusyCal

List view works just like iCal on the iPhone, with one exception: A text box is located on the bottom of the screen for notes. That can come in handy for jotting down addresses, taking notes about the people at the events, or whatever you need.

6. Recurring To Dos

iCal’s task management system works, but it’s pretty rudimentary compared to some of the other GTD tools out there for the Mac. BusyCal upgrades that system though, by allowing tasks to be recurring as well, allowing you to skip the tedious chore of entering the same task again and again.

But an even more useful feature relates to tasks that aren’t completed. Ever schedule a task for a Saturday morning but had to put it off until Tuesday afternoon? In BusyCal, the task carries over from day to day until it’s completed, and doesn’t get lost in the day it was originally assigned.

7. An Improved Info Panel

BusyCal takes iCal’s info panel for an event, and allows you to improve it yourself. It’s essentially the same panel that iCal has been using for years, but it’s customizable.

Click on the Info button in the top right corner and the panel flips over to reveal a list of viewing options. This makes each event almost infinitely customizable, which can really help when scheduling your upcoming events.

The iCal Info Panel, But Better

The iCal Info Panel, But Better

The Conclusion

These are just a few of the reasons why I think that BusyCal is such a marked improvement over iCal, and there are tons more. Yes, it costs money to purchase – $49 for a single user license – but the results are more than worth it.

Don’t believe me? Just download the trial version and give it a shot for a month or so (like I did when I was skeptical). I’m willing to bet that within two weeks you’ll hop onboard the BusyCal train.


Add Yours
  • Are you sure that iCal doesn’t have Google Calendar integration? Because I’m just now watching my Google Calendar events displayed in iCal.

    • I was about to post this, with around five minutes you can get full Google integration with several Mac apps including iCal and Address Book. It effectively removes the need for MobileMe.

    • Agreed – I’ve been using iCal with Google integrated for ages now!… ditto with my iPad etc… I don’t know why people seem to keep making this wrong statement!… iCal DOES fully sync with Google… including Google Apps

      • Yes, it’s true. I have 5 separate Google Calendars syncing with iCal.

    • It says that BusyCal has better google cal integration. Read.

    • Yeah that Google information is bogus.

      Open preferences
      Go to Accounts
      Add Account
      Choose Google
      Enter Google Username and Password
      Click Ok

      How much easier can that be short of an algorithm that predicts you use google and then ads it for you buy guessing who you are and what your username and password is. :-P

  • I love it!

  • Save your Money!

    Google Calendar Integration – False iCal can integrate with Google Calendar a good number of Iphone users like me have it set up to sync between iCal, google, and iphone.

    Bonjour Sync – True iCal does not have this. But you can user webdav to share or share though a google calendar.

    Point being in the end of the day the added features are not worth the price of this app.

    Live Weather Reports – False this is just subscribing to a weather feed. I have this in iCal

    List View – true iCal does not have this.

    Recurring To Dos – Just use recurring events on the calender. but if you have to use tasks you could automate that on the google side. too.

  • Fully agree with @Mark. Are you sure weather live reports are worth to bill 49$ for a TODO application? Everything else is not really needed or can be done by using google/automator actions.

    @appstormeditors: Thought in the last submissions you were promoting free apps over paid ones, how come you now find a application for 49$ which doesn’t offer much more than the built-in tools is worth this price?

  • As for me, I’ve got my two Google Calendars (personal and work Apps account), and neither seems to sync really well. In fact, they sync horribly. Other people: take a recurring GCal task and change it. Move one instance, change it to another calendar, or rename it. Now I’ve got dotted-line events everywhere and a forum post that tells me to flush my /Library/ files every time this happens. BusyCal, I imagine, would not do this. The screenshots alone make multi-calendar GCal support look better.

  • Review, Fail.

    • And, $49 is retardly expensive for a calendar app. I’d continually hit up google.com/calendar before I paid that for a calendar.

  • The accounts of Google Calendar I’m using with iCal work perfectly. I’m subscribed to a Google Calendar that doesn’t sync well, but I don’t know if the problem is iCal or if the subscriptions are only supposed to add new events.

    iCal has recurring events too, maybe this BusyCal is better and more powerful, but the review as David Ferguson said, it’s a fail.

  • I’ve used both, and I was quite underwhelmed with BusyCal. I’ll never pay that asking price for the meager feature set advantage it has over iCal. A tiny bit of ingenuity brings iCal almost fully up to par with BusyCal, and for free.
    And when iCal gained calDAV support (e.g. native 2-way syncing with Google Calendars), it was all over.
    Like David said, Review Fail.

  • Didn’t you, just 2 days ago (here) write,

    BusyCal is advertised as an “iCal Pro”, but really, how much can a Calendar application do? What makes this calendar app stand out is its compatibility with Google Calendar and also with iOS devices. It gives you other features like the weather and it lets you customize your calendar with graphics and colors (but do you really need this?)

    I can understand that there are people who will love BusyCal, but the inconsistency in your writeups is a little confusing.

  • I agree with Adam. I tried really hard to like BusyCal but was disappointed. It has a few extra features, but I never really used them. Also, I find it so much uglier than iCal I actually spoke with the developer about it. However, they find it to be more attractive. So I’m glad I bought a license and supported them and tried it out, but I prefer iCal thank you very much.

  • I agree with Mike, confusing.

    I have iCal semi-syncing with my Google App’s accounts. However I use Busycal on my two Macbooks. I just like it how it displays my events versus iCal. And since I use Google Apps, I’ve run into problems moving events around and then they move back or it fails with iCal.

  • I had to re-read the “lack of Google Calendar integration” line a couple of times, then check the date of the review to make sure this wasn’t an old post (or April 1). How can you write reviews on Mac applications and be that misinformed about iCal and Google calendar integration?

  • True, iCal can sync Google calendars via CalDav, but the way they’re listed is hideous. The way BusyCal lists them is exactly how I wish iCal did. And I really like the ToDo integration, but, just as others have expressed already, I have a hard time with the price just for those benefits.

  • Hey Guys – Yep, you’re absolutely right. This was a little bit misleading, and I apologise. I’ve updated the post to make what we were trying to say a little bit clearer.

    I think the issue is that syncing with Google Calendar isn’t a straight-forward process in iCal. It requires delving into a few advanced settings, and at least a basic knowledge of what CalDAV is.

    For most people, syncing with Google Calendar in BusyCal is more straight forward, and I think it definitely has an edge in this department. Is that enough of an edge to justify the price? That’s your call!

  • quality of appstorm reviews is going down.

    • True, but only for the “new people”. Joshua, David & Ian always have good reviews/points (IMO).

    • Hi Tuan – Sorry to hear you think that’s the case!

      If you have any specific suggestions or comments about what you’re not enjoying, drop me an email at [email protected]. I’d love to hear them.

  • No, the reviews are fine; the value of Mac AppStorm’s concise reviews depends on what sort of Mac user you are.

    I’ve tried iCal’s syncing method. It was a pain to setup and the results were awful; so I upgraded my old BusySync to BusyCal and within a minute it was doing its job with never a hitch since. It just works. Pretty much the same reason I use Macs!

    To a geek or a power user, spending time configuring software and fixing errors is pleasant part of life, but for users like me that time is easily worth more than $50. Heck, I recovered the cost in half an hour!

    I look forward to every appstorm article, so keep ’em coming and don’t ever change:)

    • Thanks Scott. I appreciate it!

    • I agree, the reviews are great (I picked up on the confusion with yesterday’s post because I read every post!)

      BusyCal’s little brother, BusySync, may also warrant a mention. I tried BusyCal a while back and thought the interface was a little too cartoony for me, but loved the sync features — which BusySync mimics while still using iCal as the UI.

      Keep up the good work!

  • I love BusyCal and agree with the review. It looks great and is much easier to use than iCal — I think of it as iCal done right. Instead of having appointments in one place and must-do to-dos in OmniFocus, I can see my whole day and week at a glance. Being able to add notes is great, and something I use daily to put down my notes about a task. Maybe iCal can do these things too, but it always seems kludgy and awkward to me. BusyCal really streamlined (and simplified) my GTD system. It’s well worth the money for me.

  • I’ve got aging eyes and a MacBook Pro with a high resolution screen. I can’t use iCal without getting annoyed at the abysmal usability of this combination. Why can’t Apple get this right when it’s built into every Linux desktop that I’ve used? Zooming and scrolling is not a workable solution, for many reasons. I’ve seen older folks walk away from Macs and end up with junky Windows machines because of this application. I considered it myself.

    In BusyCal, fonts are adjustable. It’s easy to get the size and layout that I want and need. Adding in Bonjour support, family license options, notes, and countless rough edges knocked off of iCal makes this some of the best money that I’ve spent for Mac software.

    Thanks for the review and the reminder of why I like this software so much.

  • Looks very nice; truth be told I’m happy enough with iCal, though. Not that I use it, but there’s also iPhone>iCal syncing to consider as a perk to iCal.

    Google Apps installation pulled into iCal and iPhone’s Calendar makes me happy :)

  • Unfortunately still no Apple Script support in BusyCal

  • I’m also irritated that Apple has let iCal languish with so few improvements. #6 and #7 should have been no-brainers for the iCal dev team.

    Plus, one thing you didn’t mention was the ability to use different fonts and colors. It may sound trivial, but I have lots of entries on every date, and I want to be able to make important ones stand out.

    BusyCal isn’t a bargain, but I value my time. And I want to support a company that picks up the ball when Apple drops it.

  • I had a nightmare of a time synching my google calendar with iCal after upgrading my Mobile Me calendar. My google cal on iCal was erased and then iCal would not allow me to add it again. Then iCal starting publishing old calendars that I had unsubscribed to and WOULD NOT LET ME DELETE them. I spent days and days and several trips to the genius bar trying to fix the problem. Finally, I discovered BusyCal. It took five minutes to set up, and works perfectly. I cancelled mobile me and actually came out ahead, because Mobile Me is more expensive than BusyCal!

  • I know iCal syncs with Google, however, has anyone had success getting Google Tasks to sync into iCal? Because I have not found a way to get that to work. If anyone has any info on that I would appreciate it.

  • I tried it for 2 days but then got blocked out – it definitely has a better look and feel, love the weather integration, and notes feature, but honestly $50!?

  • i’m not sure why but i have a feeling that iCal could get an overhaul with Lion. so no point to start upgrading before we at least see what is coming with the lion. i’ve read that the mail app is getting a facelift. wouldn’t count ical out yet..

  • I have to say that I’m pretty happy with iCal once I discovered QuickCal.

  • There’s a negative on BusyCal, though.. try querying for events with a specific “word” or filter. iCal lists all of them, regardless of the time. BusyCal, OTOH, only list events in the current month. Sometimes I want to see ALL past events which qualifies, there’s no way to do this with BusyCal.

    • Perhaps that was true when you posted, but I just discovered that you search in “List” view, then select “Decade” on the left hand side. Shows all matching events!

  • What an awesome way to explain this—now I know eevyrthing!

  • What about an address book? Google handles calendar events and contacts, busy cal is just a calendar as far as i can see. We are currently looking a using ‘Spanning Sync’ to handle both from Google to iCal and Apple address book, any thoughts on this?

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  • No really compelling reasons to differentiate from the default Mac calendar – there’s nothing I need to do in BusyCal that I can’t already.