Mac Basics: iCal (OS X Lion and earlier)

iCal in Mac OS X provides the tools you need to keep track of your schedules, appointments, birthdays, reminders, and other important events. Learn how to set up various events in iCal, subscribe to other people's calendars, and set up your iCloud account in iCal.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Your calendars, as well as calendars that you subscribe to, appear in iCal's calendar list.

iCal window


Using iCal

Open iCal from the Dock or the Applications folder. The week view appears in the main pane. You can change the calendar view by clicking the Day, Week, Month, and Year tabs at the top of the calendar.

Learn more about what you can do with iCal.

Create new calendars

If you want to create a new calendar, choose New Calendar from the File menu. Type a name for your calendar in the text field. For example, if you have kids, you might want to create a separate calendar for each one.

Schedule an event on a calendar

  1. Click and hold the Add (+) button at the top of the calendar, then choose a calendar.
  2. Enter a name, date, and time duration for your event, and then press Return. For example, you can enter "Birthday Party June 11 at 7pm," and then press Return.
  3. Your event is placed on the calendar with the date and time your entered. You can make changes or add other options to your event (for example, you can set options for your event to repeat, set an event alert, or invite others to the event and more). Make your changes to your event and click Done.
  4. You can also add an event by dragging across the date and time where you want to add an event. The event will start with the name "New Event".
    If the event is for a future date that you can't see on the calendar, click the left or right arrow buttons at the top of the window, or choose Go To Date, or Next or Previous, from the View menu.
  5. Double-click the New Event text to change the name of the event. Give it a meaningful name, such as dentist appointment, band practice, or birthday party.
  6. To optionally set the location, click the Location text and type in where the event will occur.
  7. Click the hour, minute, and time of day fields next to "from" and "to," and schedule the times that the event starts and ends.
  8. If you're scheduling a recurring event, such as an event that happens once a week, choose an interval from the "repeat" pop-up menu.
  9. If you want to change which calendar the event appears on, use the "calendar" pop-up menu.
  10. If you want to be reminded of your upcoming event, choose the type of notification you want from the "alarm" pop-up menu.
  11. If you'd like to list who's attending, click Add Invitees next to "attendees" and type out the guest list.
  12. Click Done when finished. If you want to adjust the event's options, double-click the event, and click Edit.

Tip: If you moved your calendar to a different date, you can quickly get back to today by pressing Command-T, or choosing View > Go To Today.

Create reminders

To create reminders, choose New Reminder from the File menu. The Reminders pane appears on the right side. Enter the reminder information and repeat the process to add other reminders.

You can also add reminder list for different areas of your life (work, home, school, and so on) or for every task you're working on. This is similar to the different calendars you can create in iCal. To create a new reminders list, choose New Reminder List form the File menu. Then enter a name for the reminder list and press Return.

When you create a reminders list, it appears in the Reminders pop-up list. In the Reminders pop-up list, you can select to show or hide individual reminder lists. To show or hide reminder list, click Reminders at the top of the list of reminders and unchecking the reminder list from the pop-up menu.

Publish your calendar

To make your calendar available to others, choose Publish from the Calendar menu. In the resulting dialog, type a name for your calendar in the top field, choose to publish it on your own server from the "Publish on" pop-up menu, select any of the other options you want, and then click Publish.

When iCal finishes publishing, a dialog opens and displays the URL for your calendar—be sure to write this information down.

Set up your iCloud calendar account for use with iCal

iCloud comes free with OS X Lion and iOS 5. Once you sign up for your free iCloud account, you can push calendar updates across your devices, share your iCloud Calendar, and use web calendar on iCloud.

If you have an iCloud account and OS X Lion v10.7.5 or later, you can use iCal to access and manage your iCloud calendars. If you set up the iCloud Calendar service on several devices and computers, your iCloud calendar and reminder information is kept up to date on each device and computer.

Set up your iCloud calendar account in either of these ways.

  • In System Preferences:
    1. Click iCloud.
    2. Sign in to iCloud.
    3. If this is your first time signing in from this device, you'll be asked if you want to use iCloud for contacts, calendars, and bookmarks. Make sure that this box is selected (checked), then click Next.
    4. If you've previously signed in to iCloud, you'll see a list of iCloud services. Select the box next to Calendars. Your iCloud calendar events should now be viewable in iCal.
  • In iCal:
    1. Choose iCal > Preferences.
    2. Click Accounts.
    3. To add a new account, click the Add button (+) in the lower-left corner.
    4. Choose iCloud as the Account Type.
    5. Enter your iCloud email address and password, then click Create. Your iCloud calendar events should now be viewable in iCal.

iCal will find any calendar accounts associated with the email address you provide.

Set up your CalDAV calendar account in iCal

If you have a CalDAV account, for example, through your workplace, you can set up that account in iCal.

  1. Choose iCal > Preferences and click Accounts.
  2. To add a new account, click Add button (+) in the lower-left corner.
  3. Enter the email address and password given to you by your server administrator, and then click Create.

Set up your Exchange calendar account in iCal

If you have an Exchange account, for example, through your workplace, you can set up that account in iCal. Note: Your calendar account must be hosted on a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1 or later.

  1. Choose iCal > Preferences and click Accounts.
  2. To add a new account, click Add button (+) in the lower-left corner.
  3. Enter the email address and password given to you by your server administrator, and then click Create.

Subscribe to other calendars

You can use iCal to subscribe to someone's published calendar, such as a family member, your work team, or a publicly available iCal schedule.

If you have an iCloud account set up in iCal, you can choose to add the subscribed calendar to that account. You can then view the subscribed calendar in iCal as well as in the Calendar app on your iOS 5 or later devices that have been configured for iCloud. This works without having to resubscribe to the calendar.

  1. In iCal, choose Calendar > Subscribe.
  2. Enter the web address for the calendar you want to subscribe to, and then click Subscribe.
  3. Type a name for the calendar in the Name field and choose a calendar color from the adjacent pop-up menu.
    • If you have an iCloud account, choose whether you want the calendar to be located only on your Mac or on your iCloud account. If you want to view a subscription calendar in iCal and in the Calendar app on devices with iOS 5 or later without resubscribing to the calendar, choose your iCloud account.
    • If you want to receive any reminders or attachments, or hear any alarms associated with the calendar, deselect the appropriate Remove checkboxes.
    • If you want iCal to update your copy of this calendar when changes to it are published on the Internet, choose the update frequency from the “Auto- refresh” pop-up menu.
  4. Click OK.

The calendar you subscribed to appears in your Calendars pop-up list under the heading "Subscriptions." To make changes to the calendar, click Calendars, select the calendar, and then choose Edit > Get Info.


  • Subscriptions that you manually add on iOS devices will not push to iCloud; you need to subscribe to calendars using iCal on OS X to push those subscriptions to your other devices and computers.
  • and Microsoft Outlook will not display subscribed calendars pushed to iCloud.

Find more information about using iCloud with calendar subscriptions.

Sync your calendars with iPhone, iPod, or iPad

If you have an iCloud subscription, you can use it to automatically sync your calendars across multiple computers or devices, including an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. If you don’t have an iCloud  subscription, you can use iTunes to sync with an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. You can also use iTunes to sync with an iPod classic, iPod nano, or iPod mini. See these articles for more information:

Share your calendars with iPhone, iPod, or iPad

You can share a calendar with others, so they can view or edit it using iCloud Calendar,  iCal, Microsoft Outlook, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. See iCloud Help: Share a calendar or reminder list with others.

Learn more

Want to learn more about iCal? Check out the built-in iCal Help on your Mac (in iCal, choose iCal Help from the Help menu).

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