Fantastical: Menu Bar iCal Events in Plain English

It is a rare but welcome occasion when an app is developed to do something I’ve always wanted an app to do. Fantastical is precisely that app. Often, when adding an event to iCal, getting frustrated with date and time fields, and giving up on adding any details but the name, I’ve pondered “shouldn’t there be another way?”

The developers of Fantastical have endeavoured to answer this plea with a menu-bar iCal tie-in promising the ability to quickly add events in natural language.

Upon further research, I learned that Fantastical wasn’t the first app to offer such a handy feature, apps like the cheaper QuickCal promise the same features. So, is Fantastical fantastic enough to justify the price?


Fantastical sits happily in the menu bar whether your chosen calendar app is open or not. Fantastical features a beautiful interface with a detailed month calendar view with the current day circled and dots under days with events, much like iCal for iPhone.

Beneath the calendar is a list of upcoming events which display details when clicked and highlights the date when hovered over.

A handy feature of Fantastical is the “anchor” button which keeps the interface open and pins it in front of other windows.

Fantastical Main Interface

Fantastical Main Interface

Using Fantastical

Fantastical gives you the option to sync with iCal, Entourage or Outlook, and supports iCal delegates, an essential feature for those of us syncing with Google Calendar.

To enter a task, simply enter the event in natural language in the text field, for example, “Dinner with Rhiannon tomorrow 7pm at New Gen Sushi”. Fantastical picks out the date, time and location and instantly adds it to your calendar.

You can also select which calendar you’d like the entry to appear in, by using /calendar – another great touch that rounds off the different entry information.

One possibility for the future: though I don’t use the tasks feature in iCal, I’m sure those who do would appreciate if Fantastical could be used to add tasks too – perhaps by prefacing an entry with “todo:”. That might even get me to switch to using iCal for tasks…

Features and Options

Fantastical includes all the useful features you’d expect from a well-excecuted app, including custom system-wide keyboard shortcuts, customizable sounds and search.

You can select how many upcoming events you’d like to see, or how far into the future you want to see, decide what happens when a date is clicked (open in iCal vs. create new event)

Preferences Panel

Preferences Panel


Fantastical gives you the option to set up reminders and alarms for both timed and all-day events. For example, you may want to receive an alert one hour before a dentist’s appointment, or an email a day before an important meeting.

You can customize the alarms for both types of events, and set the alarm to sound, message, sound and message, email or even to open a file. I’m too paranoid and constantly aware of upcoming events to need alarms, but I know some people will love this feature.

Alarm customization

Alarm customization


I have to say, I love this app. Fantastical works well, and does so effectively and beautifully. No, it’s not the only app to offer this functionality, and at $14.99, it’s certainly not the cheapest.

I’ve tried out QuickCal as well, and Fantastical’s main advantages are the ability to use delegate calendars (absolutely essential for me) and the slick, visual interface.

Is that difference worth $14? Personally I absolutely think so, and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Fantastical is priced at $14 until the 1st June, after which the price will increase.


Fantastical extracts event info from text entered in plain english and adds it to iCal, Entourage or Outlook.