Automating Appointments with iCal

| Tips

Appleis iCal is handy for tracking your appointments, but its unassuming interface hides other features, too. In addition to reminding you of upcoming events, it can also act as your personal assistant by automating other tasks on your Mac that relate to specific meetings.

Letis say you have a phone conference meeting coming up, and you want iCal to remind you of the meeting and open a document with your meeting notes. Hereis what to do:

  • Select your meeting in iCal and type Command-I to display the event info drawer.
  • Choose Message or Message with sound from the alarm pop-up menu in the info drawer. Choose how far in advance you want your alarm to activate, and if you chose Message with sound, select an alert sound. I set my alarm for 15 minutes before the meeting so I have time to wrap up my current project.

  • Add an alarm to your iCal event.
  • Now click the alarm heading and choose Add Alarm.
  • Choose Open file from the new alarm pop-up menu.

  • Add a second alarm to your iCal event.
  • Select Other from the iCal pop-up menu, and then navigate to your meeting notes file.
  • Now set a time for your meeting notes file to open. I set my alarm to five minutes so I can review my notes before the meeting starts.


The updated appointment with two alarms.

Automating iCal helps me avoid interruptions before meetings by handling the little tasks for me like opening files. You can also attach other items like email reminders and scripts - a trick that lets you add even more complex automation to iCal.

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