So you’re the one who always misses birthdays and anniversaries. It’s so bad your family, friends, and co-workers have come to expect it by now. Take advantage of iCal and Address Book on your Mac and surprise them by never forgetting again!
Right out of the box, Apple’s computers provide valuable tools that help users keep track of those important dates. In Address Book, a person’s address card is home to all of your information about them — mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, IM screen names, birthdays, and more. Having all of this information available in one place is key to maintaining an organized digital lifestyle. Since it’s not there by default, you can go to Card > Add Field > Birthday in the menu bar to add someone’s birthday to their card.
Once birthdays have been inserted for your contacts in Address Book, launch iCal and open the program’s Preferences menu. Under the General tab, make sure “Show Birthdays calendar” is checked (as shown above). A subscription calendar with all of your entered birthdays will automatically be generated. Viewing a specific birth date will reveal the individual’s full name (ex. “John Appleseed’s Birthday”) as an all day event set to reoccur every year. It’s that easy!
While this solution is easy and effective, it’s not quite the whole package. The problem with a subscription calendar is that alarms cannot be added to entries. In other words, you’ll only see the birthdays if you happen to open iCal yourself. There won’t be any reminders. Surely most of the people who tend to be forgetful with important dates need automatic notifications. In that case, there are two downloads which can help get the job done.
Dates to iCal, a U.K.-based application sold for £3 per machine, is the most complete option. Instead of using Apple’s default birthday calendar option in iCal’s preferences, this program provides a number of options which let you customize Address Book groups, event title formatting, and alarms & notifications. A free trial is available and certainly worth a shot if you’re serious about getting organized.
The other way to go about adding birthdays to iCal with alarms is by downloading iCalBirthdays, a free Automator workflow. While this solution works for the most part, it doesn’t offer the full flexibility of Dates to iCal and isn’t quite as user friendly considering most people aren’t familiar with Automator. If you have worked with Automator, though, it’s a worthy alternative to check out.
With both tools provided by Apple in Mac OS X and those offered by third party developers, you have no excuse to forget someone’s special day in the future. The pressure’s on!