Using Mac OS X: Contacts and Calendars

There are many Mac applications designed to help users keep their contacts and appointments organized. Some of these apps, such as Microsoft’s Entourage, are built into office suites. They offer a wealth of tools that are useful in a big office environment. For home use, however, OS X’s built-in organization programs, the Calendar application (previously named iCal) and Address Book, are difficult to beat. These apps combine ease of use and plenty of features with the potential for syncing with other Macs, and expansion via downloadable plug-ins.

Contacts and Calendars

Calendar Application

The Calendar application, previously known as iCal, is essentially a computerized diary. You can change the view in the main panel by clicking the Day, Week, and Month buttons at the bottom (Command key + 1, Command Key + 2, and Command key + 3, respectively). You can also add “events” by double-clicking anywhere in the grid, or by dragging over a period of time in the Week and Day views.

You can also maintain a list of tasks in the To Do panel on the right. A double-click will open the list, but if you cannot see it, click the drawing-pin button on the bottom right.

If you want to make changes to an event or To Do item, double-click it and then click the Edit button. Next, you can change the name, make events recur every day, week, or year, add an attachment, assign an alarm, and add it to the calendar.

The buttons on the bottom-right and bottom-left let the user display and hide the various Calendar application panes..


The Calendar application lets you organize events in separate color-coded calendars for holidays, work, school, sports, or whatever you choose. By default, your various calendars are all visible. Using the check boxes in the left-hand Calendars panel, you can be selective about what you see. For example, you can view just the Work or Travel calendar in the office, and Family or Sports calendar at home. To add a new calendar, click the “+” button at the bottom of the window. To delete a calendar, select it and press backspace. However, if you end up with lots of calendars, use the option in the File menu to create some calendar groups, such as a work group or life group. Once you have dragged a few calendars into a group, you can turn all of them on or off with one click.

The built-in Birthday Calendar automatically displays birthdays from your Address book as Calendar events. You can turn it on or off from the General pane of Calendar Preferences.

Hint: Have you ever noticed that while the Calendar application is running, its icon in the Dock displays the correct date? However, if your Mac’s date or time is wrong, you can always correct them in System Preferences under Date & Time. If you haven’t noticed before, now you know!.


In the info panel, you can assign an alarm to any event or To Do item, though you will first need to pick a due date. The Calendar application can then send you an email reminder, a flash-up message and sound, run an AppleScript, or open a file. The AppleScript option is full of useful features. For example, you could have the Calendar application fade out the song you are listening to in iTunes, and speak a reminder. However, for this sort of thing, it is easier to use the open file alarm option and choose an application you’ve created in Automator.

Subscribing to, and Importing, Calendars

One of the most interesting features about time management is that you can import other people’s calendars. Your friends, family, and colleagues can also publish calendars online so that you can subscribe to them with your Calendar application, regularly checking them to make sure you’re in the know.

You can find a wide variety of available calendars on the Internet. When you find a calendar you are interested in, simply click Calendar – Subscribe.

How to Share Your Own Calendar

If you would like to share your own calendar with your fellow colleagues, friends, or family, simply select the calendar, click File – Export … and send it by email. When the recipient receives it, he or she will be able to import it, as long as they use a calendar program that supports the Calendar format. These include Outlook, Entourage, Mozilla Calendar, Lotus Notes, and other available apps.

You can also drag a calendar into the main panel of the Calendar application to combine it with the currently selected calendar, or to the Calendar list if you want to be given a choice.

To publish your calendar online so that other people can subscribe to it, you will need an account with either iCloud, or another service, such as BusyMac, which will let you sync your calendars with Google Calendars. You can also publish calendars on your own Website, but first you will need to consult with your host to see if they support some fundamental features. Otherwise, you can try setting up your Mac to function as the server..


You can invite people to take part in an event using the Calendar application. To do this, select the event, type the email addresses in the attendees field of the Edit panel, and hit the Send button at the bottom. The recipients will receive information about the event in an email and, if they use the Calendar application and Apple Mail, the invitation will flash up in their Calendar application Notifications pane.

You can also add attendees and create new meeting events by dragging names from the Calendar Address Panel, opened from the Window menu or with the shortcut Command key + Options + A.

The Calendar application features a printing palette that lets users print neatly presented calendars in any number of ways. Just choose File – Print or tap the Command key + P to explore the options. In fact, exporting calendars is also useful for backing them up, but if you want to back up all the events and information at once, you should use File – Back up Calendar.

Calendar Keyboard Shortcuts

Use shortcuts to quickly accomplish many tasks in Calendar.

  • Command (⌘) – Right Arrow – Go to the next day, week, month, or year.
  • Command (⌘) – Left Arrow – Go to the previous day, week, month, or year.
  • Command (⌘) – T – Go to today’s date.
  • Shift-Command (⌘) – T – Go to a specific date.
  • Command (⌘) – Switch to Day view.
  • Command (⌘) – 2 – Switch to Week view.
  •  Command (⌘) – 3 – Switch to Month view.
  • Command (⌘) – 4 – Switch to Year view.
  • Control-Command (⌘)-F – Switch to full-screen view. To exit full-screen view, press Escape.
  • Command (⌘) – R – Refresh all calendars.
  • Space bar (with the Calendar list open) – Select or deselect the checkbox next to the selected calendar.
  • Command (⌘) – click any calendar’s checkbox – Select or deselect all the check-boxes next to calendars in the Calendar list.
  • Shift-Command (⌘) – N – Add a new calendar group.
  • Option-Command (⌘) – S – Add a new subscribed calendar.

Event shortcuts

  • Command (⌘) – N – Add a new event.
  • Command (⌘) – E – Edit the selected event.
  • Option-Command (⌘) – I – Edit the selected event in a new window.
  • Tab (while an event is open) – Go to the next field.
  • Shift-Tab (while an event is open) – Go to the previous field.
  • Escape (while an event is open) – Close the event editor.
  • Tab – Select the next event.
  • Shift – Tab – Select the previous event.
  • Arrow keys – Select the next or previous event.
  • Control – click the event, then choose a calendar from the pop-up menu – Move an event to another calendar.
  • Control – Option – Up Arrow – Move the selected event 15 minutes earlier (in Day or Week view); move the selected event one week earlier (in Month view).
  • Control – Option – Down Arrow – Move the selected event 15 minutes later (in Day or Week view); move the selected event one week later (in Month view).
  • Command (⌘) – comma – Open Calendar preferences.
  • Command (⌘) – I – Show information for a calendar or event.
  • Option-Command (⌘) – A – Show or hide the Address panel.
  • Shift-Command (⌘) – A – Show or hide the Availability panel.
  • Search for events – Go to specific dates

Extra Calendar Application Tools

There are plenty of downloadable tools to extend the Calendar application‘s capabilities which can help you view upcoming Calendar events via the Dashboard, via the menu bar, etc.


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  • Apple is the company most often cited in today’s marketing classes. So much so, that is not surprising that a lot of Websites talk about Macs and their applications. For example, the following Webpage has some pointers about the Calendar application:


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