Have you ever been overwhelmed and bogged down with your calendar app? I’ve found a way to greatly simplify the way that you use calendars on the Mac. It’s a little program called Fantastical ($19.99, Mac App Store Link), and it has made all of the difference.
I’ve never cared for calendar apps. They simply overwhelm me, assaulting me with options, laden-down interfaces, and far too much data. I’ve often looked for a way to simplify the digital calendar experience, but have been unsuccessful. Until now, that is. Flexibits has achieved something really unique with Fantastical for Mac, and it’s a magic that can only be experienced by actually trying it out.
What Is It?
Fantastical is a small and simple calendar “helper” app that resides in your menu bar. It can link up to iCal, BusyCal, and Outlook, as well as any CalDAV-based web calendar, such as MobileMe or Google Calendars. What I love about it is that it harnesses the full power of your preferred desktop calendar app, but keeps everything so clean and simple!
I was very impressed with Fantastical from the beginning – its simple, no-nonsense interface makes it easy to see all your day’s tasks at a glance. It’s also remarkably easy to add events, although you need to use your desktop calendar program to edit tasks once they are in place.
Fantastical is unique from the design perspective. While maintaining a simple interface, it’s also a very powerful app that is capable of doing a great many things. The color scheme, simple yet fully configurable settings, and smooth graphics make it a sure winner, and is a vast improvement to the busy and cluttered interface of most desktop calendar apps that I have used.
Further, Fantastical is as aesthetically pleasing as it is useful – its clean design looks great running on Mac OS X, and while you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking at it, it’s pleasurable when you do have to interact visually with the application.
Creating and viewing calendar events within Fantastical is simple, easy, and fun – simply clicking Fantastical’s menu bar icon (or using a customizable keyboard shortcut) and typing your event in sentence form is all that is necessary to use Fantastical – it translates what you wrote into “calendar speak” so that you don’t have to worry about it. Once your finished, Fantastical gets out of your way so that you can carry on just as before.
One of the many great things about Fantastical is how many subtle, yet remarkably useful functions it has. For instance, Fantastical can take a sentence written in natural language (such as “Lunch with Bill at 3:00”), and turn it into a calendar event – this may be the single most useful functionality of Fantastical, and certainly the one that impresses me the most.
Fantastical supports color-coding of your events, as well as the ability to quickly search for, retrieve, and view the details of an event. It can even create and automatically add reminder alarms to your events without ever having to launch iCal. Another impressive features is that it can detect a possible event in a web page or email, turn it into a clickable link, then automatically add it to your calendar.
The app is also extremely customizable, letting you choose how many events to display, select a range of days for your events, rank them by importance or relevance, and so much more. Then, simply clicking on an event reveals its details – all while not distracting you from whatever else you might be working on.
Fantastical is not the richest and most fully featured calendar program available, in fact, I don’t consider it a calendar program at all, but a “calendar assistant.” It helps you to quickly and easy create and manage your schedule without having to worry about the clutter that you’d otherwise have to encounter.
Rather than being built around a feature set, Fantastical is built around clever design, ease of use, and distraction-free operation. It can really help you get and stay organized while keeping the stress to a minimum.
Its slick interface, powerful feature set (including that all-too-awesome natural language recognition), the fact that it stays out of your way, and the fact that its so easy to use that it’s almost enjoyable to use are all definite highlights of this great app.
Rating & Conclusion
For its simplicity, easy of use, and immense utility (and the fact that it has completely changed they way I use my calendar), I cannot help but to award Fantastical a 5 out of 5. Check out the below list for the pros and cons I encountered while using Fantastical:
- “Natural language” entry for events.
- Simple, smooth interface with no distractions.
- Stays out of your wat when you aren’t using it.
- Built in search and alarm features.
- Works with tons of calendar apps, including online calendars.
- Carries out most of its features without opening your actual calendar app.
- Cannot edit events from within Fantastical (although I am told this is coming)
Fantastical sells for $19.99 in the Mac App Store (Link), and I must say that I would consider it to be worth every cent. While it initially seems pricey, the time and stress you will save yourself by using it make it a pretty sweet deal. You can also get a free trial (or learn more about Fantastical) over at the Flexibits website.