Calendar: Displaying Birthdays (or Not!)

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Calendar's "Birthdays" feature is a pretty handy way to keep track of your loved ones' special days, especially if you're prone to forgetting things. (Don't look at me like that, Dad—I'll try harder next year.) Sure, it's great, but how do you add to it or delete things from it? If you attempt to do it through the Calendar program, you'll get an unhappy message.

As you can see, though, Calendar tells us exactly what we have to do—edit the information within the Contacts program instead. You see, anything you put in the "birthday" field within Contacts syncs to Calendar. Neat! So open Contacts, find the person whose birthday you'd like to add, delete, or edit, and make the changes within that program.

After you're finished editing, your new birthday will show up within Calendar, all pretty-like.

Got that part down? Good. Now here are a few important notes and tips on handling this feature:

1. If you don't see the Birthdays calendar in your list at all, turn it on within Calendar> Preferences> General.

2. If you don't have a field in Contacts to add a birthday into, follow the instructions from this previous tip for changing your template. Hey, I wrote that!

3. Don't know what year someone was born? Don't sweat it—you can just put in the month and day. I've seen lots of people with "So-and-so's 5th Birthday!" on their calendars because they didn't know that a year isn't required.

4. Finally, it's good to know that you can actually be alerted of upcoming birthdays. To turn on notifications for them, go to Calendar> Preferences> Alerts and toggle the "Birthdays" drop-down menu to your preferred time frame.

Yay! And maybe next year, I won't forget a single birthday because of this.


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I still haven’t found a better way to handle birthdays(and other dates) when making iphoto calendars for the holidays.
I make 2 different iphoto calendars with some dates the same and some dates for only for one or the other.
So, I had to create 3 iCal calendars: 1 that contains event dates used in both calendars and 1 for each calendar with it’s own dates.
Without adding a whole bunch of options to iCal, this is the only way I found to handle them.


Melissa Holt

Hey bdog!

You can edit the text of the events while you’re creating calendars in iPhoto (so you could go in and edit someone out after you selected to sync your Birthdays calendar, for example). Maybe that’d be the way to go?

Hope that helps!


That’s good… But what about showing someone’s anniversary each year? Is there any way to create a similar file for those dates?

Melissa Holt

As far as I know, there’s no built-in way to do that—only items labeled as birthdays can sync. However, there are some third-party options, like Dates to iCal ( I haven’t tried that software myself, though.


I checked out Dates to iCal… it works pretty well! I had added Anniversaries as a category to a number of entries in my Address Book, and after installing Dates to iCal, they did appear in the Calendar. I did have to go in and turn off the Birthdays setting in the Calendar Prefs though - as Dates also shows them.

Melissa Holt

Great, Eric! I’m happy it worked out for you. grin



When I go to my contact list to add a birthday and that contact already has a birthday listed (because it is linked to Facebook), it will let me add a birthday but it will not show up in my calendar.  I have the Facebook birthday calendar turned off in my calendar b/c there are too many.  How can I get them to show up?

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