BusyCal 2: A Worthy OS X Calendar Replacement

If you live in your calendar, chances are you’ll want more than the built-in Calendar app offers. Calendar in OS X isn’t bad, per se, but it’s definitely not as powerful or productivity-focused as many wish.

As many people are aware, BusyCal is a very commendable iCal replacement. Since the release of BusyCal 2, though, it’s fair to make the bold statement that BusyCal is an exceedingly commendable iCal (or, as with OS X 10.8, Calendar) replacement. It has the potential to make you more productive and efficient with the addition of some very well received and welcomed features. Let’s take a look.

Interface

Although BusyCal 2’s interface resembles that of the first version, it’s interesting to look at the fundamental changes to the functionality of BusyCal.

Firstly, you have the ability to display your calendar in either week, month, day or year view similar to the current interface of Calendar.app. What makes BusyCal unique is that you’re able to customize the how many days/weeks/months are shown at once, and can also make use of intelligent, useful mouse gestures that give you the ability to quickly move forward or back in time. When adding an event, simply click the ‘+’ in the corner to quickly add an event, BusyCal uses an intelligent engine to decipher what you type and then turn it into an event.

BusyCal also makes it easy to manage your todos and reminders. You can create single or repeating todos and are displayed directly in your calendar view along with the handy menu bar applet and carries on to the next day automatically if they’re not completed. This may sound minor, but it truly does help when the application does this without any additional work or effort.

What’s more, in this new version, there’s now a handy little menu bar applet that gives you an overview of your day, along with the weather and the ability to quickly add new events to your calendar. Similar to Fantastical but without all the bells and whistles that come with Fantastical: it’s simple, elegant and handy, allowing you to glance at what your day holds for you.

Accounts and Syncing

With BusyCal, you’re not just limited to the calendar configured on your Mac, with version 2.0, you can sync directly to iCloud and now Google Calendar, in fact any other CalDAV service is supported. You can also easily share you calendar over your local area network and push events and requests to an inbox.

As expected with iCloud and Google Calendar, any changes make within BusyCal will instantaneously be pushed your iOS and OS X devices via iCloud or Google Calendar, same with events and reminders.

Extras

With 2.0, there’s a useful info panel that allows you to directly edit event details and also customize various aspects of your events including the location, time zone, tags and the last edit time, amongst others.

Although this next thing is slightly gimmicky, it is a nice thing to be included: adding sticker-like graphics to your calendar. For example, during the holidays, you can add a pumpkin graphic to October 31st and a santa hat to Christmas day – minor but fun to have.

Something else which has proven useful is the integration of the week’s weather into the calendar, as well as the phases of moon. They are simply added to your day either as the tile background or in the foreground, and are indeed useful and nice to have included.

As most people like to add their own personal feel to a calendar, BusyCal is great in respects to customizability. You can modify the font face, size and color of your calendar.

A major part of many calendar apps it the ability to add todos, reminders and alarms. iCal’s to-dos were rather weak, and have been split out into the Reminders app in Mountain Lion, but BusyCal maintains deep support for tasks and alarms built-in. It supports alarms almost flawlessly, fully integrated into Notification Center. You can set alarms to go by default, for example birthdays and anniversaries.

Alternatives

One thing that’s certain is that iCal alternatives are a popular genre. For instance, Fantastical is a popular calendar app for OS X that sits nicely in your menu bar. Fantastical’s menu bar applet is a lot more refined and feature-rich compared to BusyCal’s menu applet, but that can only be expected seeing as that’s the whole app for Fantastical.

BusyCal stands out with one of the most full-featured Mac calendars on the market, combined with a handy menubar app. It gives you everything you’d need from a calendar app, and more, so you won’t need to resort to using multiple apps to stay productive.

Overall

In conclusion, BusyCal 2 is what iCal really should’ve been. Since Apple decided to make the controversial move to make iCal’s interface resemble that of a leather bound calendar, BusyCal’s interface has been welcomed by many. It’s more powerful than iCal, too, and the more I use BusyCal, the more useful I find it.

You can get BusyCal from the Mac App Store for $29.99, or you can try out the free trial from BusyMac’s website. Either way, it’s a great calendar app you should try out if OS X’s default Calendar doesn’t cut it for you.


Summary

As many people are aware, BusyCal is a very commendable iCal replacement but since the release of BusyCal 2, it’s fair to make the bold statement that BusyCal is an exceedingly commendable iCal (or, as with OS X 10.8, Calendar) replacement and has the potential to make one more productive, efficient and allow you to manage you time a whole lot better with the addition of some very well receive and welcomed features.

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  • rbq

    Did they somehow pay you for the review?! “With BusyCal, you’re not just limited to the calendar configured on your Mac, […]” is plain wrong since they removed the synchronization with the system calendar. So if you don’t want to put you calendar on an Apple or Google server it is completely useless and won’t even sync to an iPhone. For other features they removed just read the AppStore reviews.

  • http://czarnymciapkiem.wordpress.com Sebastian

    Yes rbq, probably he must get paid. I think I made developers annoyed on their newsgroup complaining also that they want produce version 2 Lion+ only instead of giving support for 1.6 version. I still use 1.6 on Snow and loves its functionality however there are some glitches and limitation:
    - integrarion with gcal is not seamless – if you create event and want invite people invitation are send by email!!
    - if you want to use BusyCal as a primary calendar app with Fantastical you got another glitch – not possible, all your calendars must be added to iCal to be seen in BC!!!!!!
    Still don’t know if this is BC fault or Fantastical fault. One thing can we be sure – with 2 version released it stopped to be ultimate calendar app :( If you see release note you will see list of “You are no longer …” features…Thanks for such crap I will stay with 1.6 !

  • deOuderraad

    I use BusyCal for the past two years and in general the App is well built. Unfortunately, it is not that stable. On all my three Macs I have significant problems
    the search robot and also frequently with synchronizing. Whats worse the support sucks. No replies. In addition, despite it is one of the most expensive calendar apps, they charge for the minor upgrade to number 2. It´s a great pity.

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