When iCal no longer accepts reminders

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous takes me to task for an Automator workflow I recommended that is seemingly broken under Lion. He writes:

I’ve tried your Automator workflow for creating to-do items anywhere and it does not seem to work with Lion and iCal. When I click on “Run” in Automator the window does pop up, but once I enter a name for the reminder I click on Continue, Automator comes back with an error that says “Check the action’s properties and try running the workflow again.” What’s going on?

By way of reminder, this workflow allows you to press a key combination in any application (including the Finder) to quickly configure an iCal reminder. It worked very nicely until iCloud was introduced. At that point, things got sticky for some people. Now, on to the solution.

When you see an error that suggests you check an action’s properties, do exactly that. In the case of this workflow, as originally presented, the log—which appears at the bottom of the Automator window—indicates that the workflow fails because “The nameofcalendar calendar does not support tasks.” And that’s your problem.

If you were to launch iCal and attempt to create a reminder for the calendar you chose in your workflow, it would likewise fail because—as Automator tells us—iCal believes it doesn’t have a calendar that supports reminders. You can verify this by choosing View -> Show Reminders and then clicking on the small triangle that appears next to Reminders. If no calendars appear, you know you need to enable reminders.

One way to do that is to turn on iCloud calendar syncing. Launch the iCloud system preference and tick the box next to Calendars. Do so, move to iCal, and you should see at least a Work and Home calendar entry under Reminders.

If you don’t want to sync your calendars with iCloud, you can optionally choose File -> New Reminders List in iCal and then, from the submenu, choose an account you want to attach reminders to—a Gmail account for which you’ve added calendars, for example. Once you have calendars that accept reminders all you have to do is choose one of these calendars in your workflow and it should once again successfully perform its job.

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