Fantastical 1.1 review

If you’ve never used Fantastical, its icon lives in your menu bar, displaying the day’s date. Click the icon, and a beautiful calendar drops down, showing the current month, with upcoming events listed below; you choose which calendars’ events appear, as well as the number of events or days’ worth of events. Click an event to view its details, or click a date to see its events; a search field lets you quickly find events.

It’s also easy to create new events from within Fantastical. You can double-click a date and then fill in the event’s details, but Fantastical’s standout feature is its natural-language event creation. You just type (in English) a conversational description of the event; Fantastical parses your text to fill in the details accordingly. Press Return, and the new event is created, letting you get right back to work.

(For example, if I type Macworld Staff Meeting Friday 10a Rm500 /work, Fantastical creates a new event, Macworld Staff Meeting, in my Work calendar with the upcoming Friday as the date, room 500 as the location, and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. as the time.)

Include the name of an Address Book contact, and Fantastical can add that person to the event’s invite list. Lion’s version of iCal offers similar functionality, but Fantastical simply works much better, and Fantastical works with any calendar you’ve set up in Apple’s iCal, BusyMac’s BusyCal, or Microsoft’s Entourage or Outlook, as well as with MobileMe, iCloud, Google Calendar, and Yahoo Calendar accounts.

Fantastical 1.1 now allows you to edit events and add notes.

What’s new: Since version 1.0, the developer of Fantastical, Flexibits, has updated the program four times, and those updates have brought a number of new and useful features, as well as the usual minor improvements and bug fixes. The most significant new features are the capability to edit and delete events—actions that previously required you to open your preferred calendar program—and the capability to add and edit notes for events.

My other favorite new feature is the Fantastical menu extra. Run this tiny program, and you can reposition the Fantastical menu anywhere in the menu-extras area of your menu bar. (I prefer it near the right edge of the screen, next to Apple’s clock menu.) Other new features let you add multiple alarms automatically; use “launcher” apps such as LaunchBar and Alfred to send data directly to Fantastical; and use several Lion trackpad gestures and additional keyboard shortcuts to navigate events and calendars.

OUR VERDICT

In my original review, I wrote that Fantastical doesn’t include every feature you might want. Fantastical 1.1 has closed that gap considerably, to the point where many people could get by without ever opening iCal.

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