Dates to iCal 1.0.3

Mac OS X’s built-in Address Book utility and iCal calendaring application have earned a good deal of (deserved) praise, but they aren’t perfect. One of the most common complaints I see is that that if you’ve got birthdays entered in Address Book, you can’t easily set up reminders for those birthdays in iCal. iCal’s built-in Birthdays calendar can automatically display Address-Book-added birthdays as daily events in iCal, but you can’t edit those events—which means you can’t set alarms for them.

If you could use a bit more help remembering birthdays (and even anniversaries—yours or those of friends and family), you’ll like John Maisey’s Dates to iCal 1.0.3 (   ; payment requested). When you first launch Dates to iCal, you choose your settings: the title of the new iCal calendar that will contain the new events and alarms; whether the calendar should include birthdays, anniversaries, or both (“Anniversaries” also covers custom dates you’ve added to Address Book records); the type of alarm to be created for each event (the choices reflect iCal’s own alarm types); how many days in advance of the event you should be notified and at what time of day; the alarm sound (if any); and—if you’ve chosen the “Open file” alarm option—the location of the file to open. (Note: Before you can use Dates to iCal, you need to first set an Address Book contact—presumably your own—as “My Card” in Address Book.)

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Click the Start Dates To iCal button and the application will launch Address Book and iCal and then synchronize your chosen events from the former to the latter. (Once you see the progress dial in the Dates to iCal window stop spinning, you can quit Dates to iCal; it will continue to do its thing in the background.)

Your newly-created calendar will soon be filled with alarm-enabled—and editable —events corresponding to the birthdays and/or anniversaries in Address Book. Yes, you can even edit those events, something iCal’s built-in Birthdays calendar doesn’t allow. You can also edit the new calendar itself, meaning you can manually add birthdays and anniversaries for people who aren’t in Address Book (iCal doesn’t let you add events to its built-in Birthdays calendar).

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The first time you run Dates to iCal, it launches an invisible background process and adds a Dates-to-iCal-Launcher item to your Login Items list in System Preferences’ Accounts pane. The latter makes sure the former is always running so that future changes you make to birthdays in Address Book are synced to iCal. (Dates to iCal watches for changes to Address Book birthdays and anniversaries; when it detects a change, it stores those changes so that your iCal calendar is updated the next time iCal is launched.) However, syncing is one-way; if you make a change to a birthday event in iCal, Address Book won’t reflect that change, so you’ll want to make changes in Address Book and let Dates to iCal sync them to iCal.

You can stop Dates to iCal’s synchronization at any time by launching it and clicking on the Stop Dates To iCal button. (In fact, if you move the application at any time, you need to launch it, stop it, and then start it again to allow it to recognize its new location.)

Dates to iCal is a handy tool that adds a much-requested (and should-already-be-there) feature to iCal.

Dates to iCal works with Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later and is a Universal binary.

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