Each Mac ships with the built-in OS X Calendar application, but Apple’s calendar is basic and lacking many helpful features. Thankfully, there are plenty of great third-party apps that serve as a replacement for the Calendar application, or as add-ons to take it to the next level.
We’ve narrowed our list down to the five best calendar apps for Mac — don’t forget to let us know which one you prefer in the comments at the end of this post.
Are you looking to replace the standard calendar? One of the following two applications will get the job done.
Fantastical 2 ($49.99)
Best for: Those looking to do a little bit more with their calendar each day, who don’t have time to customize.
Fantastical just happens to be a 2015 Apple Design Awards winner for Mac. What makes Fantastical so impressive is its natural language engine, which makes adding new events a pain-free experience.
For example, you can type “meeting with Jay at 4 pm” and Fantastical will begin creating a calendar entry for the next afternoon on your calendar and also suggest people named Jay from your Contacts application. Once this information is confirmed, it will even send Jay an email inviting him to the event. The application also understands text suggesting a future or repeating event, such as “third Sunday of every month,” “every weekend,” “last weekday of the month,” and more.
Fantastical features a full calendar window with day, week, month, and year views. It also offers light and dark themes, time zone support, and birthday reminders. A Notification Center widget is also available. If you also use Fantastical 2 for iOS, Apple Handoff support is provided, offering continuity between different devices. The application’s native CalDAV engine lets users connect their Mac directly to their calendar services such as iCloud, Google, and Yahoo.
What sets Fantastical apart from other solutions on our list is its full-featured menu bar app, which was available before the application became a full Calendar replacement. Menu bar access offers a powerful way to review your day through a mini-calendar. Better still, Fantastic 2 allows this calendar to detach right from the menu bar, and you can also resize it.
BusyCal 2 ($49.99)
Best for: Those happy with Apple’s Calendar application, who want more customization tools.
BusyCal is one of the oldest and most popular third-party Mac calendar applications. Like Fantastical, BusyCal allows you to add events using natural language. It also works with most CalDAV services, including iCloud, Exchange, and Google.
Where BusyCal shines through customization and the use of Smart Filters. Unlike the native Mac application, BusyCal allows you to change the number of weeks to show in the Month view. You can also change the number of days in Week view. Your calendar’s font and colors are adjustable as well.
Smart Filters let you create calendar sets and saved searches. You can create a filter that only shows events that match certain conditions, such as a text string or event type. Another filter could show events that contain a string of text modified in the last 15 days.
The application also includes a to-do list, weather reports by day, list view, and more. With all these features, BusyCal helps you become more organized and productive.
Enjoying Apple’s Calendar application, but want a little bit more from it? These three applications will fit the bill.
Best for: People looking for a fancy live desktop calendar.
If you’d rather see your schedule and reminders on your desktop, Blotter is for you. With Blotter, your entire week becomes part of your wallpaper. You can also use it to add events and reminders on the fly. With Blotter, you can show weekday dates or your desktop, or the next seven days on your calendar. You can also adjust its size and reposition it.
Blotter’s most impressive feature is its use of shortcuts. With these, you can perform simple tasks with a few clicks of the keyboard. These include new event, new reminder, next week, and more.
Blotter works directly with your OS X Calendar app and is available on the Mac App Store.
Calendar 2 (free)
Best for: Those who want to view their upcoming schedule in the Mac menu bar without paying a dime.
Here’s another status bar app that compliments Apple’s standard calendar. With a single click, Calendar allows you to see your whole month’s events and tasks right in your menu bar. The aim here is to view everything on your schedule at a glance, without having to spend the time bring up Apple’s application.
The application shows your entire monthly calendar. Details about a particular day are just a click away, also on the menu bar. You can customize the application by changing its fonts, colors, and themes; and you can also add a weather forecast.
Calendar is free on the Mac App Store. Additional customization such as Facebook integration is available through an in-app purchase.
QuickCal 3 ($2.99)
Best for: Folks who need to add calendar events in a hurry.
Natural language plays a central role with QuickCal. After a few keystrokes, the menu bar app begins creating an event for placement in your Mac’s Calendar application. It even notes when there are conflicts on your schedule.
With QuickCal, your upcoming schedule is viewable in a list view, which can include events up to seven days in advance. You can also see your reminders from this location. Want to receive a notification for an upcoming event? QuickCal features “Smart Alerts”, which will create alarms at different time intervals.
See also: For a slightly outdated and older equivalent of QuickCal that won’t cost you a penny, check out RemindMeLater. It was built during the iCal era but still works well with OS X El Capitan’s Calendar app, allowing you to use natural language to add events to your schedule — without QuickCal’s fancy extra features.
The Choice Is Yours
There is nothing wrong with using Apple’s built-in Calendar app for Mac. If you’re looking for something different, consider the solutions we’ve presented here. Fantastical and BusyCal will replace the Calendar application while Blotter, Calendar 2, and QuickCal will enhance it. Each can be an excellent choice, depending on your needs.
What’s your favorite calendar solution for Mac?