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.
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.
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 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.
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.