iConiCal 1.2

Apple introduced iCal back in July 2002. Yet here we are, five years later, and iCal’s Dock icon still shows the current date only when iCal is actually running. Quit iCal, and time suddenly reverts back (or forward, depending on your perspective) to July 17. (Incidentally, July 17 was the date, in 2002, when iCal was announced.)

Which is odd, when you think about it. After all, people who use iCal likely have it in their Dock, and it would be convenient to be able to glance at the Dock to see the date. If you’re among the many people wanting this feature, BlockSoft’s iConiCal 1.2 (   ; payment requested) can help out until Apple finally gets around to adding it officially.

When you launch iConiCal for the first time, it presents an options screen where you choose how it works. Besides forcing iCal’s icon to reflect the current date, you can also make the icon a different color when iCal is running than when it’s not; for example, green and red, respectively. You can also choose whether or not to launch iCal when you launch iConiCal, and, if so, whether or not to keep iCal open afterwards.

Any time you launch iConiCal after this, it will open, do its thing, and then quit automatically. (To see the options screen in the future, hold down the Command key when launching iConiCal.) iCal’s Dock icon will then display the current date—although, oddly enough, the month appears only when iCal is running; when it’s not, just the date is displayed.

The biggest limitations of iConiCal are that changes it makes to iCal’s Dock icon won’t appear until iCal is next launched (which is why you have the option of launching iCal along with iConiCal), and you have to run iConiCal every day in order to have iCal’s Dock icon updated daily. Although there’s an option in iConiCal’s preferences to open iConiCal at login, this will be an effective approach only if you log out and back in each day. Instead, I recommend creating a new event in iCal that’s one minute long, repeats daily, and has an alarm that opens iConiCal. Set this alarm for a time early in the morning when you know your Mac will be on, and each day at that time iConiCal will automatically be launched and will update iCal’s icon.

Two other notes. First, when you launch iConiCal, or after making changes to its options, it may seem as if iConiCal isn’t responding, but this is normal; in order to do its thing, iConiCal actually has to replace images inside the iCal application package, which takes a few seconds. Second, after using iConiCal, if you run OS X’s Repair Disk Permissions function, you’ll get a message that several .icns files inside the iCal application have “incorrect” permissions. This is because iConiCal is replacing those image files within iCal. Ideally, iConiCal would apply the correct permissions to these files after working with them, but in this particular case, having the “wrong” permissions isn’t much of a concern.

Although a bit of a kludge, iConiCal works well, especially if, as suggested above, you put it on an automated schedule. You’ll never have to see July 17 again—or at least you’ll see it only once a year.

iConiCal 1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later and is a Universal binary.

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