Fantastical 2, a Full-Featured Calendar App for OS X

I’ve long used Fantastical on my iPhone, finding it to be much more practical than Apple’s Calendar app, but on OS X, I couldn’t use the corresponding app: it was just a mini window that displayed a calendar and a list of events. Flexibits has released Fantastical 2, a major update to their OS X calendar app, which, now, is a full windowed app, though the mini window is still available.

In the full-window version of the app, Fantastical repeats its design of its menubar tool – and its iOS app – with a monthly calendar and an event list in a sidebar. You view your events in two locations: the sequential list, and the daily, weekly or monthly calendar.

Month View

Mini WindowThe sidebar can display in either dark or light mode, as can the mini window. Click the Fantastical icon in the menubar and you can view and even tear off the window, using the smaller window as your calendar if you don’t need a full-sized calendar.

There’s also a Today widget for the OS X Notification Center, and Fantastical supports Handoff, so you can start creating an event on one device then switch to another. I’m not sure how useful that will be; it doesn’t take long to create a calendar event, and it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to use Handoff.

On of the key features of Fantastical is its natural language parsing engine, which lets you enter events by typing, for example, “lunch with John Friday 12pm,” or “reminder 6pm.”

If you use multiple calendars – such as one or more for work, and others for private activities – you can easily switch between them by creating calendar sets.

I’d been using BusyCal for several years, but I find that Fantastical is a lot easier to use and manage. I do miss a couple of BusyCal features, though. There’s a setting in BusyCal to display monthly view starting with the current week, so you don’t see a lot of past events, as shown in the screenshot above. And you can save searches, which I found practical for looking at the calendar I share with my partner, to see the next dates I when we have theater tickets.

Fantastical’s display is a bit harder to read in Monthly view, which is what I use almost all the time. Instead of coloring scheduled event titles with the colors of their calendars, there’s only a small colored bullet next to them. (All-day events are highlighted with the calendar’s color, so they’re easy to read.) So it’s harder for me to tell which event is attached to which calendar. Daily and Weekly views are much easier to read, but I would hope that they can improve the readability of the Monthly view in a future update.

In spite of these small gripes, I quickly adopted Fantastical after using it a bit as a beta. I like the fact that the interface on my Macs and my iPhone is now similar – this isn’t a deal-breaker, but I find it a lot easier when apps are on both platforms.

Fantastical is available from the Mac App Store at a launch price of $40, which will increase to $50 at an unnamed date. You can download a demo version of Fantastical from the Flexibits website; kudos to them for making a demo available, so people don’t hesitate to try out this great app.