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11 min read

The 5 best calendar apps for Mac in 2023

By Harry Guinness · February 16, 2023
A hero image with the logos of the best calendar apps for Mac

Without a calendar app, it's all too easy to double-book yourself, miss important events, and otherwise cause yourself a world of pain. And you know how else you can cause yourself a world of pain? Using a non-native Mac calendar app on a Mac. All you get for your trouble are inconsistent keyboard shortcuts, mixed-up notifications, and a user interface that takes away from the joy and ease of using an otherwise well-designed operating system.

I use my Mac calendar app every day to keep my life organized, and as a long-time Mac expert, I have pretty strong opinions on how apps should play nice with Apple's design philosophies. This isn't some quickly-thrown-together list—it's the summation of years of intense research (or, at least, getting exasperated at bad apps).

For this list, I wasn't looking for the best calendar app (we've already done that)—I was looking for the best Mac calendar app. To find it, I re-tested all the top Mac desktop calendars. These were my five favorites.  

The 5 best calendar apps for Mac

  • Apple Calendar for macOS for the best free calendar app for Apple users

  • BusyCal for the most flexible Mac calendar

  • Fantastical for the best-designed Mac calendar

  • Microsoft Outlook for Microsoft Office fans and syncing with Windows and Android

  • Calendar 366 II for the best menu bar icon for Apple's Calendar

  • Other options that might work for you

What makes the best calendar app for Mac?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

Let me start with this: there's no Google Calendar app for Mac. But any of the apps on this list sync with Google Calendar to bring you the best of both worlds. (They all obviously work with Apple's iCloud Calendars as well, barring one unusual exception.)

In addition to that requirement, the best calendar apps for Mac all have a few key characteristics: 

  • Offer a clean, native macOS interface. This means following Apple's design language and integrating well with macOS by offering native keyboard shortcuts, notifications, menu bar icons, and even features like Today widgets. The ideal app, like macOS, is easy to use at a glance, but not in a way that compromises on functionality. 

  • Make it quick to add events and appointments. Speed is everything when it comes to a calendar. If you can't add something to your calendar in a few seconds, you're much less likely to keep it updated. Ideally, you only need to click one button or use a keyboard shortcut to start typing and add an appointment. Natural language processing, which allows you to add appointments by typing something like "Drop off dog at the vet Monday at 5pm," is a big plus here.

  • Make it quick to see your schedule at a glance. Calendars are only useful if you can actually see what you have coming up, so the ideal calendar app needs to be easy to arrange however you prefer. Daily, weekly, monthly, and agenda views should all be offered, and they should all be easy to parse. An ugly, hard-to-read user interface was a hard no.

  • Offer syncing, both to mobile devices and other computers. It doesn't matter if this is via iCloud, Google Calendar, Exchange, or some combination of those three—some sort of syncing is a must. Your calendar should be available everywhere at all times—that's the point of using an app. Of course, most of these apps are easier to sync with iPhones and iPads than Android devices—but that's just the nature of Apple's ecosystem.

Apps that couldn't do these things weren't considered, but the best apps offered a lot more. Even the default Apple Calendar app easily meets my requirements, which is probably why there aren't that many great alternative options—at least at the affordable end of things.

Also, with one or two exceptions, I only looked at pure calendar apps. Lots of to-do apps, email apps, and other types of productivity apps have some kind of calendar functionality, but it's not quite the same as being a dedicated calendar app. If you want a more general productivity tracking app, check out our guide to the best Mac to-do apps.

To test all the apps that potentially met the criteria, I connected my personal calendars and used them over the course of a week to get a feel for how they worked on a daily basis. (There were a lot of date icons in my Mac's menu bar for a few days.) Since I've been writing about productivity for almost a decade and updating this list for the past two years, I was already familiar with all of the apps under consideration, but I made sure to evaluate how they'd changed with recent updates to macOS.

Here they are—one of them is almost certainly right for you.

Best free calendar app for Apple users

Apple Calendar (macOS, iPhone, iPad)

A screenshot of the built-in macOS calendar, our pick for the best free calendar app for Mac.

Not sure where to start? Apple's Calendar, which is already installed on your Mac, is clean, functional, and syncs with your iPhone and iPad without any effort.

Adding appointments is simple: click the + button. Natural language processing means you can type something like "go for a walk at noon" and expect your computer to figure out what you mean. You can also click-and-drag on the calendar itself to create an appointment. There are four main views: day, week, month, and year.

You can create as many local calendars as you want, and all of them will sync using iCloud. You can also add calendars from Exchange, Google, Yahoo, or AOL accounts. This is handy if you've got a work account and personal calendars to keep balanced, and also makes it easier to use shared calendars—including shared iCloud Calendars.

Apple's Calendar used to offer a to-do list, but tasks now live in Reminders, a separate app. If you want to see tasks alongside your appointments, this app won't cut it. But there are plenty of other integrations. Addresses, for example, show up in Apple Maps, and you can optionally get travel time notifications. You can schedule and invite people to FaceTime calls. There's even a Siri Suggestions calendar that pulls in potential events from iMessage, Mail, and other Apple apps.

Apple's Calendar is simple, but it covers all the bases most people need. If you only use Apple products, you should try it before installing anything else because you have to pay surprisingly large sums of money to get a significantly better experience.

Apple Calendar for macOS price: Included with all Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Deciding between Google Calendar and Apple Calendar? Read our showdown: Google Calendar vs. Apple Calendar.

The most flexible calendar for Mac

BusyCal (macOS, iPhone)

A screenshot of BusyCal, our pick for the most flexible calendar app for Mac

BusyCal, at first glance, looks almost identical to Apple's Calendar. It isn't.

Look close and you'll see a few things. A weather forecast and moon phases show up in the weekly and monthly views, for example. And there's more. The right panel can show your to-do list—tasks are pulled in from Reminders or Todoist. If you don't use either app, this panel can show details from the currently selected event. Or, if you want both to-dos and details, you can have one atop the other. Your to-dos can also optionally show up in the calendar itself, on the dates that they're due.

Which is just to say that everything about this program is very flexible. Dig through the preferences, and you'll find ways to change the color scheme, what shows up in the info panel, and even customize the fonts. You can add a second time zone to the side panel, which is great if you happen to travel a lot or work with teammates in another area. You can show an alternate calendar, so you can see Hebrew, Islamic, or Chinese dates alongside the Gregorian ones. There's an availability panel, which is useful if you want to quickly find the next available open spot in your schedule. There's also a great menu bar icon for quickly browsing appointments. Dig in, and I'm sure you'll find even more things to tweak.

Adding tasks is quick: just use the + button to use natural language processing, or click-and-drag the time you want to allot. And there are five main views for seeing your appointments: daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and list. Syncing is handled using the default calendars and iCloud, or you can add accounts from Google, Yahoo, Fruux, Fastmail, Office 365, Outlook, CalDAV, and Exchange. It can also sync with Todoist, Zoom, GoTo Meeting, and Webex.

It's a lot of flexibility. The only downside is the price point, but it might be worth it for you if you're looking for the most customizable calendar for Mac. It's also nice to see an app that isn't using subscription pricing.

BusyCal for macOS price: $49.99 with a 30-day free trial. BusyCal is also available on SetApp, a $9.99/month subscription offering dozens of indie Mac apps. BusyCal for iPhone costs $4.99.

The best-designed calendar app for Mac

Fantastical (macOS, iPhone, iPad)

A screenshot of Fantastical, our pick for the best-designed calendar for Mac

Including the word "Fantastic" in the name of your product is risky. Making the name of your product a pun is even riskier. Fantastical pulls off both.

Put simply, this is the best-designed calendar app for macOS, and I am completely biased—I've been using Fantastical for years.

Start with the left panel: most apps (including BusyCal) put a mostly useless list of calendars here. Not Fantastical. Here, that space is used for an agenda view or your reminders. It's a small thing, but I use it almost every day, and it reflects how carefully the developers thought about every design element to make the calendar intuitive to use. Another little thing: if an identical event shows up in two calendars, it will only show up once, with a pin-stripe pattern letting you know it's in two different calendars. Use Fantastical for a while, and you'll notice all kinds of little things like this.

Adding appointments is quick: just hit the + button and start typing. There's natural language processing with animated real-time feedback, making it very clear how the natural language processing works. Viewing appointments is also great: there are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual views, all well thought out. There's also a great menu bar icon, which basically gives you access to the left panel in the main interface at any time—you can bring it up with the keyboard shortcut control + option + space and start typing to add an event. (That's what I do most of the time.) Native notifications and a really great Today widget round out the integrations.

Fantastical supports syncing with iCloud, Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Google, Yahoo, Fruux, Meetup, Zoom, Fastmail, Todoist, Webex, and any CalDAV service, so you've got nearly endless syncing options. The only downside I can think of is the price, which at $6.99/month, is far higher than most people need to pay for a calendar. It makes BuysCal's $49.99 one-off look like a bargain.

Thankfully, the free version of Fantastical offers enough for most casual calendar users, though it lacks a few features (like travel time estimates, support for invitees, and automatic conference call detection) that you'd kind of expect an app of this caliber to have. The $6.99/month Flexibits Premium subscription adds all of that, as well as Calendly-style scheduling (which I rely on to manage interviews across time zones), lots more customization options, unlimited Calendar Sets (basically groups of calendars), and swapping between them based on the time, your location, or your current Focus mode. You even get an entire contact management app called Cardhop.

I can't stress this enough: the price is the only downside to Fantastical—and I gladly pay it. If you also spend a lot of time in your calendar, it might be worth it for you too.

Fantastical for macOS price: Free for basic features, $6.99/month for Flexbits Premium.

Best Mac calendar for Microsoft Office fans and syncing with Windows and Android

Microsoft Outlook (macOS, Windows, Android, iPhone, iPad)

A screenshot of Outlook for macOS, our pick for the best Mac calendar app for Microsoft users and for syncing with Windows and Android

Mac applications tend to focus on doing one thing well, which is why Apple computers come with separate email, contact, to-do, notes, and calendar apps. Microsoft's Outlook does not adhere to this philosophy—it's all those things, and more, all at once. If that's what you're looking for—or you're forced to use it for your job—then Outlook might be just right for you.

There are four main views to see your appointments: daily, work week, week, and month. The work week view, which isn't offered by any other tool outlined here, is a good example of how work-focused Outlook is. There are some other nice features: a three-day forecast in the toolbar, for example. Collaboration is a key focus, and the integration with email and contacts helps with that. You can also create templates for appointments, which is useful if you regularly invite people to similar things.

Microsoft 365, Outlook.com, Google, Yahoo, iCloud, POP, and IMAP accounts are supported—though for Exchange support, you'll have to revert Outlook to an earlier version. Although it's important to note support for iCloud Calendars not tied to an iCloud email address is still lacking. (Yes, it's strange to recommend a Mac calendar app that doesn't fully support Apple's calendar service, but Outlook excels with cross-platform protocols.)

Adding appointments is a little more complicated than other apps I've outlined here: there's no smart entry, for example, which is disappointing. Appointments are created in their own window, but you can still create an event pretty quickly using the tab key. As more evidence of the work focus, there's a Scheduling Assistant that enables you to invite multiple people and find a time that works for everyone.

Outlook might not be the first app you think of using for a macOS calendar, but it's worth checking out, especially if you're already a paying Office user. It doesn't feel as Apple-y as the other apps on this list, and doesn't offer macOS-specific features like Today widgets, but it does everything you need a calendar to do.

Outlook also integrates with Zapier directly, so you can do things like create Trello cards or Todoist tasks from new events.

Add new Microsoft Outlook events to Todoist as tasks

Add new Microsoft Outlook events to Todoist as tasks
  • Microsoft Outlook logo
  • Todoist logo
Microsoft Outlook + Todoist

Microsoft Outlook price: Starting at $6.99/month as part of Microsoft 365 Personal or $6/user/month as part of Microsoft 365 Business Basic.

The best menu bar icon for Apple's Calendar

Calendar 366 II (macOS, iPhone, iPad)

A screenshot of Calendar 366, our pick for the best menu bar calendar icon for Mac

Calendar 366 II is a surprisingly complete menu bar calendar. You can basically manage your calendar using only this app, even though it functions primarily as a supplement to Apple's Calendar and Reminders apps, which it uses for all data.

You can open the calendar by clicking the menu bar icon or by using a global keyboard shortcut. Adding events is quick, thanks to natural language processing, and you can view your appointments in a variety of ways. The default puts an agenda view below a monthly calendar, but there are other views offered: year, month, agenda, week, week with agenda, and even the current day.

And everything about the app is customizable. There are numerous color schemes, for example, and you can change up the font and layout to your liking. The menu bar item can be an icon or replace your system clock.

It's great as a supplement to Apple's Calendar, but it could also replace it completely depending on your workflow.

Calendar 366 II for macOS price: $14.99 (with a 30-day free trial). Calendar 366 for iPhone and iPad costs $6.99.

If you just want a calendar in your menu bar for quickly glancing at but don't care about all the extra features, Itsycal is a great free option.

Other Mac calendar options

Do none of the apps above hit the spot? Here are a few other options that didn't quite fit the criteria:

How to automate your calendar

Regular readers of Zapier's blog will know that we normally highlight a few ways different apps can be automated. What's unusual with the picks on this list is that, while only Outlook can be automated directly using Zapier, they all work with calendars that can be automated. 

Every one of the top picks can sync with Google Calendar, which means you can automate pretty much anything you want. For example, you can create an event in Fantastical for your Google Calendar and have Zapier create Trello cards or Toggl time entries automatically. 

Similarly, just because you use the built-in macOS Calendar app, doesn't mean you can't use Zapier to create a list of your next day's meetings (so long as you're syncing things through a Google Calendar). Remember: all these apps are Mac-native frontends for a variety of different calendar backends. This gives you a lot of freedom to automate them as you like.

This article was originally published in April 2019 by Justin Pot. The most recent update was in February 2023.

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