We’ve scoured the Mac App Store and the web in search of the very best calendar apps for OS X. Some serve as full on iCal replacements while others are must have companion apps that extend iCal far beyond what it currently offers.
We found apps that put calendars on your desktop, in your menu bar, on a screensaver and just about everything else you could want. If you’re in the market for a new calendar utility of any kind, this is the roundup for you. I’ll even help you cut through the clutter by pointing out my favorite app of all!
Featured App: Fantastical
Some people love app roundups, they provide you with a quick glimpse of the best options available in a given market and allow you to decide for yourself what is worth pursuing further. Other people however are overwhelmed by so many options and just want to know which is best.
For the latter of these groups, I chose to single out Fantastical. It’s my absolute favorite calendar utility and as far as I’m concerned, if you only download one thing on this list, this should be it. Fantastical is so much more than every other menu bar calendar I’ve tried. It’s a full on scheduling and reminder assistant.
The interface is super slick and the feature set can’t be touched. The thing that I like best is that Fantastical uses natural language for input. So to insert my upcoming dentist appointment, I simply entered “Dentist on Tuesday at 11am” and the app automatically created an iCal event called “Dentist” for the upcoming Tuesday at 11am.
The developers have really thought through how users would want to use Fantastical. For instance, I like having reminders for iCal events, but I hate setting them up with every new event. Fantastical lets me choose to automatically add reminders as events are created, so I’ll get a notification one hour before my dentist appointment even though I didn’t manually go in a create a reminder.
Don’t use iCal? No problem Fantastical works with Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, Outlook, Entourage, BusyCal and more. Check out the free trial and you’ll be hooked in no time.
Other Top Picks
If you like the natural language aspect of Fantastical but aren’t crazy about the price tag, check out QuickCal. It’s not really a calendar app so much as it is a quick and easy way to add events. Just hit a shortcut, then type in the event using natural language and it will be added to iCal. You’ll likely want to pair it with one of the menu bar calendars below.
A simple but effective app that doubles as a calendar and todo list. It’s perfect if you like to take one day at a time rather than being overwhelmed with everything for the week or month. Today syncs with iCal and allows you to both view and add events and todos to iCal.
While most of the apps in this list serve to supplement iCal, BusyCal seeks to replace it. Dedicated users often say that BusyCal is everything iCal should’ve been. Notable features include a non-modal Info Panel for easier data entry, to dos that display in the calendar and auto-forward until completed, repeating to dos, customizable calendar views including a list view and scrolling month and week views, adjustable font styles and sizes, live weather feeds, moon phases, graphics, and sticky notes. If you like iCal but wish it did a lot more, BusyCal is the way to go.
Alarms Express is the menu bar calendar completely rethought. It’s a really fantastic application that pops out an interactive timeline that makes it easy to set up alarms for specific dates and times. You can even drag in items like contacts, URLs and files to associate with the Alarms.
Time tracking apps
Keeping track of how much time employees are working can be a huge headache. With the cloud-based When I Work Time Clock you can keep tabs on every hour worked by a company’s employees. Staff can clock in and out using the time clock, and managers can get reports and alerts so they can ensure that staff are only charging for what they’ve worked.
Price: Free for companies with less than five employees
If you’re a business owner with employees then you should make sure you’re clear about when and where they are taking vacation, right? One of the easiest ways to do this is through Time-Off Manager, a web-based tool for tracking and managing staff leave, time off, and attendance.
Price: From $25 per month
iCal makes for a great way to track your time at work, but extracting that information into an invoice can be a pain. Enter TimeTable, a great little application that calculates the hours spent on specific tasks and exports the information to invoice and spreadsheet apps.
Menu Bar Calendars
An attractively styled list of all your upcoming iCal and Google Calendar events and tasks. Rather than focusing on the calendar like the others, this interfaces places the emphasis on the list of pending items.
Another simple menu calendar that shows your upcoming events from iCal. One bonus here is that you can use the menu bar item to show both the time and date, which means it serves as a great, more functional alternative to the default OS X clock menu item.
Yet another menu bar calendar that shows your iCal events. This one has a very minimal interface with almost no extras.
DateLine is a really slick way to put a calendar where you can actually see it: on your desktop. The number line format is clean and attractive, which should appeal to the design conscious among you. The functionality is actually pretty impressive as well, with nice little notification windows for events and tasks and double-click access to iCal.
If you like the concept of DateLine but want even more functionality, check out Blotter. This app takes all your calendar information and overlays it beautifully onto your desktop. It’s not just passive, you can conveniently add events through the menu bar item. Fans of GeekTool and similar utilities will definitely love Blotter.
TimeWorks displays your iCal events right on your desktop in a timeline similar to the one in iCal. You can choose to show the events all the time or only when you press a shortcut. As a cool alternative, you can place the timeline in a screensaver instead of on your desktop.
Zipline is a way to place important information in a little ticker on your desktop. You can grab iCal events and todos, RSS feeds, social network notifications and more.
Why have a one month calendar on your desktop when you can have five months? CrisCalen places up to five calendars on your desktop with a nice little inset bezel look.
A super useful free menu bar client that shows you your upcoming iCal and Facebook events. It’s definitely not as fully featured as some of the other alternatives but you can’t beat the price.
Want a faster way to create iCal reminders without forking up any cash? RememberOn quickly adds events and alerts to iCal in a very basic interface. As with the previous app, it’s certainly no award winner but since it’s free you should check it out and see what you think.
Specific Use Calendars
iStudy Calendar is a calendar specifically tailored to helping you get organized with your homework. It’s lacking a bit in functionality but it does have basic support for dates, notes and subtasks.
Bills has a quirky interface that you’ll either love or hate. It definitely provides a unique way to track upcoming bills so that you can stay on top of your expenses. It’ll also help you figure out where you’re spending too much and how to cut back.
Nifty Niche Utilities
Calendar Cleaner analyzes, reports, and fixes problems that result from iCal syncs gone wrong. Quickly and easily fix duplicated events as well as invalid calendar dates and alarms. If iCal has gotten away from you, it’s time to clean it up!
Just like the previous utility, Dupe Devil helps you recover from messy sync remnants. Quickly spot and remedy duplicate entries, alarms, etc. It also allows you to easily merge two calendars while automatically handling duplicate events.
This app is a little like a journal/calendar hybrid. It allows you to easily add notes, images and even documents to your day. It might serve as a decent way to track your work in a given day.
OddCal is a really interesting utility that helps you add duplicate events that appear in an unpredictable pattern. So let’s say you’re putting on a show with ten event dates that appear at seemingly random intervals over the course of the next few months, OddCal makes it easy to quickly add these to iCal without the hassle of copy and paste.
Calendars are weird, some months have 31 days, others don’t, then leap year jumps in and really complicates things. For these reasons, performing math on dates can be quite difficult. Date Calculator + helps you calculate the gap between two dates without making your head explode.
OneThingTodayX isn’t a todo app but a way to help you accomplish your goals. Instead of creating a list of items that you want to get done every day, you focus on only one goal that you want to complete for each day. It helps you get things done without overwhelming your already busy schedule.
Some people need to frequently access the current week number, whether for invoicing or other purposes. This app helps you out by placing the week number in your menu bar as a convenient little icon.
If you frequently enter the current date and time into forms, spreadsheets, timecards or anything else, then ClipDateTime can save you loads of time. Simply open the menu bar item and click on the format you want to copy it to the clipboard. If the format you want isn’t built in, you can set up a new one with custom options.
If you’re not really into the whole digital revolution, tree saving thing, iPlanner will let you print your iCal data as day planner pages. The price seems awfully high for the fairly limited functionality but other similar utilities share the same price point so it seems fairly standard.
This is Google’s free menu bar utility for keeping an eye on your Gmail and Google Calendar accounts. As you would expect from Google, the functionality is fairly limited but functional.
Organized is probably the best free utility on this list. It’s an awesome dashboard widget that serves as a calendar, todo list and world clock. The design is very attractive and the developer is iSlayer (creator of 1Password and iStat Menus) so you know it’s a high quality utility. I doubt that it’s actively developed anymore but it still works great.
Which Is Your Favorite?
Now that you’ve seen our roundup of other thirty awesome calendar apps, it’s time to chime in and tell us your favorite. Tell us which apps above you’ve tried and what you thought of them and also be sure to point out any that we forgot!
Update: This post was originally published on November 8 2011. It was updated on May 27th 2015 to include details of latest time-tracking calendar apps.