A few days ago, Merlin Mann mentioned on his 43 Folders site that he’d be interested in a small enhancement for iCal. Out of the box, iCal only adds an alarm to events if you manually add it – strange behavior, considering a calendar is the tool to alert us to upcoming events. He asked for automatic creation of those alarms.

At the same time, I was looking to delve a bit deeper into OSX programming. And it was also sufficiently small that I could turn it into an experiment on productivity.

Since no bugs surfaced since then – with a widespread test release on three machines ;) – I’m ready to release it into the wild. Comments, suggestions, questions are welcome at rob [dot] blum [at] gmail [dot] com.

Without further ado, here is iCalFix 0.1

Update: iCalFix 0.3 released!

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  1. jaywest wrote on 21. Dec 2005

    wow! a very nice plugin to fix such a strange omission from iCal. Any chance you can allow the user to specify the default alarm time? Can I just make an edit in the .plist? I would prefer it to default to one hour before the event, not one day.

  2. Robert 'Groby' Blum wrote on 22. Dec 2005

    Will be there in v0.2. Scheduled for mid-January

  3. eric wrote on 27. Dec 2005

    This is a great little tweak – and it just reinforces what I love about os x users and developers. Whatever’s missing quickly (well… sometimes eventually) seems to find a solution.

  4. dalton wrote on 27. Dec 2005

    brilliant, thank you. I can’t believe this isn’t built into iCal already. I’ve been this close to switching to entourage many times, and you just saved me!

  5. justbn wrote on 28. Dec 2005

    Is there anyway to adjust the snooze option for timers? I can’t stand the current choices. Sometimes I want to snooze 5 minutes, sometines 4 hours, etc. I’m stuff with what Apple decided is appropriate.

  6. Benjamin wrote on 28. Dec 2005

    You are a god among men! Thank you!

  7. Chris wrote on 28. Dec 2005

    If I had a mac, I’d check it out. What i’m really wondering though is how you managed to do this on a closed source app with no api. any possibility of either releasing source, or at least a basic outline of how it was done?

  8. Hasan wrote on 29. Dec 2005

    Any chance of open-sourcing it? I’m curious as to how you did this.

  9. Rod Shuffler wrote on 29. Dec 2005

    Gah! It uses SIMBL! Run! Run for the hills! (IIRC, SIMBL is kind of like APE – you either can live with these things, or they make you extremely paranoid at every OS X update time).

  10. Eric wrote on 29. Dec 2005

    I’ve also heard negative things about SIMBL. Can someone with more expertise than I tell me if SIMBL can produce bugs? Is it likely? Thanks!

  11. dolly wrote on 30. Dec 2005

    so now i’d like to print my 2006 calendar pages and put them in my looseleaf notebook, but there is apparently no option for portrait-style pages, onlly landscape. Is there a way around this? dolly – dmzx3 [at] comcast [dot] net

  12. Sebastian Guest wrote on 30. Dec 2005

    Will this work for birthdays as imported from Addressbook? Currently there is no way that I know of to be reminded of birthdays.

  13. jehrler wrote on 30. Dec 2005

    Well, since suggestions seem to be the rule of the day, if you choose an event to be an all day one and want an alarm, the alarm defaults to 12 midnight. Anyway to change that to something a bit more reasonable?

  14. JS From Winter Park, FL wrote on 31. Dec 2005

    Such a great addition to iCal. Thanks a lot for your time. This makes me want to learn to write plugins!

  15. Adam Salter wrote on 02. Jan 2006

    Since you can only set the amount of time to 24 hours this is useless. I still have to change the alarm every time I create a new event. Couldn’t it default to the last setting used? So if I change it to 2 hours it will use that until I next change it? Or at least put the setting in the plist file, so we can change it ourselves. Anyway great start. Thanks,

  16. B Gross wrote on 02. Jan 2006

    Anyone… How can I print, on one page, both my day calendar with timed events and my TO-Do list right beside it? I just want to print this out and stick it in my pocket to review throughout the day. Any help out there?

  17. Maurice wrote on 03. Jan 2006

    For the next update please default to the last alarm settings used. I didn’t realize it didn;t do that until a few appointments had been made. Thanks!

  18. Eric M wrote on 03. Jan 2006

    Where do you plan on announcing updates? I’d like to be notified when 0.2 comes out.

    Thanks for your hard work.

  19. n8 wrote on 03. Jan 2006

    Thanks! I’m happy to see this, even though I would prefer a 1hr default alarm instead of 1 day. Another feature I’d really love: the ability to add one or more alarms to events in the “birthdays” calendar. I can’t believe Apple didn’t build this in, since it makes the birthday calendar useless without it! If you can make that happen I will bow down in worship to you. :-)

  20. ksphotog wrote on 10. Jan 2006

    Thanks but I totally agree with n8. With the new iCal 2.0 integration with Address Book Birthdays….well this is cool…but once the Apple address book puts the new birthdays in iCal there is no way to edit them. Thus there is no way to turn on a reminder. Which is kinda useless. Reminders within the apple integrated address book/iCal would be SOOOOOOOO useful…and yes you would be a god! :-)

  21. Andrea wrote on 12. Jan 2006

    Nice bundle!

    Since you are changing the way you set the alarm, it would be nice to allow the capability to put an alarm after an event, not only before…


  22. Administrator wrote on 12. Jan 2006

    Hi Andrea! Alarm times will indeed allow alarms after an event. (Well, if iCal allows it). I’m not sure why you would want that, but since it requires no extra work ;) , it will be included in 0.2.

  23. Jori wrote on 28. Jul 2006

    I can’t wait to start using this, but can’t find where it should go? It says ” That has become much easier now – just drag the iCalFix folder into the InputManagers shortcut – or onto your /Libraries/InputManager folder” but Spotlight doesn’t seem to see this InputManagers folder. I am on OSX.4.7. Thanks!

  24. Jan Peters wrote on 31. Aug 2006

    Does it also add alarms to the automatically created birthday calendar?

  25. Administrator wrote on 02. Sep 2006

    Haven’t figured out how to do those yet, but I’d definitely like to support that…

  26. Adam wrote on 26. Sep 2006

    This is a neat tool, I will have to try it out. The one thing that is preventing me from moving over to iCal completely (dumping MS Entourage) is its poor handling of “To-Do” items. This is how I keep track of my life – everything that isn’t considered an actual appointment becomes a “To-Do”. The one thing missing is the ability to categorize tasks the way Entourage and Outlook do. If you have a lot of them like I do, a lack of categorization turns it into quite a long and messy list. I don’t like to put due dates on most of them, so I need the categories. The ability to link them to another local file is really helpful as well. If anyone knows of an iCal plugin that does this, please send it my way – sundevil(six-seventy-one (in numerals) AT mac DOT com. Thanks!

  27. Matthew wrote on 29. Oct 2006

    Perhaps I should add, it would be great to be able to type in Quicksilver.

    “ictdo make supper remind 20 minutes” Adds a TODO with a reminder in 20 minutes to make supper.

  28. Shaun wrote on 14. Jan 2007

    it would be fantastic if someone could change the Alarm/Email to allow custom addresses to be put in. That way way you could set up reminders for not just yourself, but to other people as well.

    If someone knows of how to do this, please pass on the knowledge. Thanks!

  29. Chris wrote on 01. Feb 2007

    This is such a great update to iCal. I don’t understand why this is not in the program inherently. Thank you so much for creating this!!

  30. Pete wrote on 15. Feb 2007

    OK. It pays to reaad the directions carefully!! Be sure that you copy the iCalFix directory into InputMangers, not just the bundle!


  31. nassoit wrote on 22. Mar 2007

    New version 0.6 released http://www.robertblum.com/articles/2007/03/14/icalfix-06

    Thanks for the great software!

  32. Federico wrote on 27. Jul 2007

    Excellent. It would be even better if I could receive a mail in imail besides the alarm. Thanks.

  33. Shawn wrote on 17. Oct 2007

    Thanks, I really need this feature!

  34. Eric Litman wrote on 13. Dec 2007

    How well does this work w/ Leopard iCal?

  35. Robert Blum wrote on 13. Dec 2007

    It doesn’t work with Leopard at all – Apple is deprecating an API I rely on. Then again, Leopard iCal does already automatically create alarms for you.

  36. Eric wrote on 06. Feb 2008

    I am looking for a plugin that will modify the “attendees” field in the info panel of a calendar event to display the address, phone and email from the Address Book.

    Could this also be part of an update?

    I am using iCal 4.06 on OS X 10.4.11


  37. SiSo wrote on 11. Mar 2008

    Hey, Robert….

    Just out of curiosity…

    What API were you using that  deprecated on you? Just for my own education, if you get around to answering….

  38. Michael wrote on 22. Mar 2008


    Since upgrading to leopard I get the next remark every time I open ical.

    iCal(v1236) is not supportted by iCalfix 0.6.1(70). Your version of iCalfix seems out of date. Please update to the newest version.

    I cannot find a newer version and I don’t know how to unstall iCalfix. Please advice. Michael,

  39. dick van Vlooten wrote on 14. Apr 2008

    Error message: iCal(v1236) is not supportted by iCalfix 0.6.1(70) on every opening of Ical. please advice

  40. Robert Blum wrote on 16. Apr 2008

    @Michael, @Dick: iCalFix is not supported under Leopard

    I’ve tentatively started working on a new approach

  41. juju wrote on 29. May 2008

    Any chance of open-sourcing it? I’m curious as to how you did this.

  42. Administrator wrote on 02. Jun 2008


    I probably won’t open-source the entire thing – it contains Apple APIs that I reverse-engineered, and I don’t even want to start tempting the dragon.

    There is an overview of the basic ideas behind this at http://www.robertblum.com/articles/2006/01/09/the-making-of-icalfix – and if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

  43. Daniel Zylstra wrote on 15. Jul 2010

    This is great! What about the possibility of a plugin/extension that allows iCal to show/include travel time in events–like what Entourage does…? Any possibilities there? I’d write one myself, except that I have NO idea what I’m doing. ;-)

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  45. Scott C wrote on 06. Dec 2010

    Is there any chance I can talk you into adding another feature to ical? Would it be possible to make an option in the print preferences to remove the time next to events? It is an option in the normal view mode but for some reason apple made it so you can’t turn it off when you print.


  46. Eric B wrote on 09. Jan 2012

    I notice that when I log out or shut down and log back in to my Mac, all the ical Alarms that were active before have disappeared. I like them to stay until I clear them manually. Does your plugin make them stay? Entourage does this.

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  4. The home of things fat-headed | Enhancing Apple’s iCal on 28. Dec 2005
  5. DENNISBULLOCK.COM » iCal Plug-in on 29. Dec 2005
  6. Groby Unplugged » Blog Archive » Making a better iCal at benwann.com on 30. Dec 2005
  7. Groby Unplugged » Blog Archive » iCalFix 0.2 released on 16. Jan 2006
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  9. Groby Unplugged » Blog Archive » iCalFix 0.3 on 16. Feb 2006
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