Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Mac Menu bar Calendar apps

I have been playing for a while with several Mac menu bar calendar apps: QuickCal, Fantastical, CalendarBar and Calendar apps (all available in the Mac App Store). I have also been testing the Control Panel extension FlexCal. Here it is a small summary of what I have found out during my testing and my final solution:

  • QuickCal: inexpensive app. It has a configurable view where you can select the number of days as well as the number of tasks that you want to be shown in the menu. It allows you to create both tasks and events by typing kind of natural language. You need iCal running to get the events sync with your calendars. In the next version 2.5 there will add Google Calendar integration. I really like the task handling feature.

  • Fantastical: probably the most impressive app by far. Amazing user interface, natural language recognition, nice user interface, etc. It also allows you to sync the events with CalDav calendars even if iCal is not running as it has its own implementation of CalDav for when iCal app is closed. What I dislike: price and no support for tasks.

  • CalendarBar: nice app that supports iCal, Google and Facebook calendars. Nice integration with Facebook and also support for Growl notifications. It also handles tasks. The app only allows you to view events/tasks, not to create/edit/delete. Paid app, but not expensive.

  • Calendar: Nice month view with week numbering. Color badges with the number of events per calendar. Again, it is a view-only app, does not allow to create/edit/delete events. The best of all, it is free. 

  • FlexCal: although this is not a menu bar app, it is very useful. It stays in your control panel and it allows you to easily create events/tasks with an easy keyboard shortcut.

And what I am using right now: a combination of QuickCal and FlexCal. I like the way QuickCal shows in one click everything that is coming next, both events and tasks. But I do not like the way to create events/tasks as I need to customize reminders. For that I use FlexCal, that has an easy way to select dates with a small month browser. You can actually use any of the view-only apps in conjunction with FlexCal to input events/tasks.

Besides these tools you can also have a look at TinyCal and MenuCalendarClock. I have been using them in the past. I was even a registered user of MenuCalendarClock, but I stopped using it because all the main updates were paid ones and I had the feeling it was too much paying for a single app.

Let me know your experiences and what suits you better.



  1. Great post Guillermo. I had no idea there were so many calendar apps for the menu bar. Initially I liked Calendar Bar but it's only available on the MAS, so I couldn't buy it, but yesterday you tweeted about Fantastical so I went to check it out, and after using it just a short time, I bought it.

    It's a great calendar app and they should be implementing new features soon too. I like that I can easily enter events and that I can easily see what events are coming up, in a clear, beautiful layout.

    I don't use my calendar massively, mostly for birthdays and personal events, but Fantastical makes entering and seeing these events really easy and nice.

  2. Thanks for your comment Daniel. Fantastical is a really nice option. I hope they implement task support in the future. Then I would be ready to invest some money on it.

  3. Thank you very much. I installed FlexCal and will be making a donation to the developer. I also purchased and installed QuickCal and made a few suggestions to the developer. I look forward to playing with both. The other one I looked at a while back that fits in the menubar is iClock -- I can't remember why I am not using it (I think it was because the font was hard to see or something -- I have poor eye sight).

  4. Nice that you liked it. I haven't checked iClock but I will have a look :-) I think FlexCal and QuickCal are really good combination ;-)