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mac alarm clockWhile Apple”˜s iCal is a very useful alarm and to-do application, it can be somewhat tedious to launch it and set new alarms, especially for minor tasks and reminders. Setting iCal reminders works best when setting up alarms from within Apple’s Mail application, but not from within other applications. This is where a little third-party Mac alarm clock app, developed by Nicholas Riley, called Pester might be very useful to Mac users.

Pester is great for setting alarms on the fly. You set the time and the type of alert you want, and you’re done.

Pester is a free application, and it’s an easy to use; however, there a few little quirks and hidden and missing features that I discovered in using it.

Set Up

mac alarm clock

First off, as with any application, you want to open Pester”˜s Preferences and set a keyboard shortcut so that it can be launched from within any application.

Note: my keyboard shortcut would not show up in the screen shot.


If you work at your computer throughout the day, you might check the “Wait for idle to display alerts,” box so that the alarm notice doesn’t pop up when you’re typing or performing some other task. This happens a lot with iCal alarms. I can be typing away and all of a sudden an alarm pops up to distract me from what I”˜m doing.

Setting Alarms

Setting your first alarm is easy, but setting additional alarms is not as obvious as it could be. When you set your first alarm, be sure to click the Set button to lock the alarm into place.

After you set your first alarm, you select File > Set Alarm (Command+N). You might expect a new clean interface to pop up, but it doesn’t. What you have to do is set an alarm over the existing one, which is already logged into the application. To set a new one, you delete the existing alarm message and change the other settings. Again, choose the Set button to log in the alarm.

Viewing and Editing Alarms

Choose Alarms > All Alarms (Command + L) to view all your set alarms. In this interface, you can remove alarms; however, you can’t click on one and edit it.

If you want to edit an alarm, click the Alarm > New Alarm and then select an existing alarm from the drop-down selection in the Message field.

Next, click the View button and change it to Edit. After making changes to the settings, click the Set button again to lock in the changes.

Notice that Pester will show data for exactly when the alarm will execute.

Setting Times and Alert Types

Setting alert time and days is pretty similar to what you get in any calendar program; however, Pester of course is not as robust in features when compared to iCal. Pester is more useful for setting quick daily alarms, or alarms that you don’t want in your iCal program.

You can set times in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks. There are also different types of alerts to choose from, including sound and bouncing dock icons. You can’t set the same alarm for different days of the week or month. If you want the same alarm for say Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of a week, you need set up a new alarm for each day. In iCal, you can just copy and paste alarms to the various days you want.

Alert Notifications

When alarm notifications are displayed (if you choose that option) you can conveniently set a snooze time or dismiss the alarm all together.

mac alarm clock

If you choose to have Pester alarms to play a sound, you have the option in the application’s Preferences of setting which sound output you want to use. Pester also supports Growl notifications Get Notified About Everything with Growl [Mac] Get Notified About Everything with Growl [Mac] Read More .

All and all, for a free application, Pester is pretty nifty. For more examples of alternative alarms, check out this MakeUseOf article The Best Alternative Alarm Clocks for Windows and Mac The Best Alternative Alarm Clocks for Windows and Mac Read More . For a web-based option, check out this short review.

Let us know what mac alarm program you use and why.

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  1. Martin B. Brilliant
    April 29, 2015 at 2:26 am

    I wanted an alarm that went off at the same time each day as a reminder to stop and get ready for bed. It's easy to set an alarm to go off in 24 hours and repeat. The catch is that the repeat doesn't count its 24 hours from when the previous alarm went off, but when the previous alarm is dismissed. If I go to bed early, and don't see the alarm till the next morning, the next alarm is set to go off the following morning. Useless.

    November 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm


  3. Antonio Rinaldi
    October 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I do not know any web service which allows you to set a snooze or pestering reminder, so I have create my own app which everyone can use.

  4. Antonio Rinaldi
    October 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I do not know any web service which allows you to set a snooze or pestering reminder, so I have create my own app which everyone can use.

    • Aibek
      October 22, 2010 at 6:13 am

      Hey Antonio, thanks for putting it together. Seems like it took you a while.