Your Mac comes packed with a perfectly fine calendar app, but it’s lacking advanced features, multiple ways to view your calendar and external service integration. For all that and more, we like Fantastical.
- Menu bar app for easy access to your daily schedule.
- Full calendar view with special day, week, month and year views.
- Today widget for Notification Center.
- Displays maps with your events.
- Reminders are integrated into your calendar events.
- Natural language input lets you type events in natural language, like "meet Andy for lunch tomorrow". Supports English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.
- Dark and light themes.
- Keyboard shortcut support for adding events and reminders.
- Availability scheduling.
- Time zone support.
- Handoff support.
- Works with iCloud, Google, Exchange, Yahoo and any other CalDAV account.
- Easy to toggle between different calendars with Calendar Sets.
- Calendar printing options for those who like a paper calendar.
- Google Hangouts support for one-click meetings.
Where It Excels
Fantastical's biggest draw is its ease of use. For those who like to quickly add an event to their calendar and stay organised, you can do so from your Mac's menu bar using a shortcut. The natural language input is phenomenal, allowing you to add events quickly by typing in something like, "Dinner with Waluigi next Tuesday," or "Call Optus March 4 at 8AM." For those who need serious calendar management, you can open up the full app to get detailed views for your month, day or week.
The menu bar app might be my personal favourite part of Fantastical, but it certainly isn't the only positive feature. Fantastical makes everything easy. You can edit events with a click, sort your calendars into specific sets so you can toggle multiple calendars on and off with a click, and the inclusion of to-dos from Reminders makes it easy to see everything on your plate for the day at once.
Fantastical also fully integrates with a number of Google and Exchange calendar features, which means you can schedule your availability or check the availability of co-workers. Fantastical is updated often, which means it supports all of Apple's newest gadgets and operating system features, including support for Notification Center widgets.
Where It Falls Short
The price is easily the biggest problem with Fantastical, because $80 for a calendar is a lot to ask. Regardless, it's comparable to other desktop calendar applications and you'll get an app that's well supported by the developer for years. The fact is, if you need more power than Apple's free desktop app, you'll need to shell out the cash. There's good news though: You can check out Fantastical for free for a 21 day trial before you commit.
Apple's own Calendar (Free) app is the most obvious alternative here, and as a free option, it's the first one you should try out. If you just need a bare bones calendar that shows you events, Calendar does the job perfectly fine. The biggest issue with Calendar is its general lack of advanced features, including the bizarre lack of Reminders integration. There's also no menu bar app for Calendar, which is a shame, because that's one of Fantastical's biggest strengths.
BusyCal 3 ($US49.99 [$65]) is the most obvious alternative to Fantastical, and it certainly does the job for some people. BusyCal and Fantastical are similar, but BusyCal's "Info Panel" is especially nice for those who like to customise their event details. BusCal also integrates the weather forecast and travel times, which is great if you travel a lot. BusyCal's menu bar app integrates a number of these same features, though it isn't quite as well designed Fantastical. In general Fantastical is just a little easier to use than BusyCal, but BusyCal also has a trial mode, so it's worth giving both a shot if you're curious.
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