OS X Mavericks: Using “Travel Time” in Calendar

| TMO Quick Tip

Confused by Mavericks’ new “travel time” feature within Calendar and aren’t sure how it’s supposed to work? Hey, I'm here for you. There are quite a few steps involved for how it functions, so let's get started. I promise that it's fairly painless. Mostly painless. OK, there may be a little pain, but I'll hold your hand.

First, let’s make sure your Mac has access to your current location to take full advantage of this. Do that by visiting System Preferences> Security & Privacy, and then pick the Privacy tab. Under Location Services, “Enable Location Services” should be checked, and you should also allow Calendar to use your location if it’s been deselected from the list.

(Note that you’ll have to click the lock in the lower-left and enter your administrator password to make any changes to these settings.)

If you’re über-paranoid, you don’t have to turn this on; if that setting is off, then Calendar will use whatever address you’ve got configured on your personal card in Contacts for calculating travel times. 

When you've got things all ready to go, first create an event in Calendar, and then in the “Add Location” field, type in the address or business name where your appointment’ll take place. You can use contacts' names, too.

Here’s one of the big tricks of using this—for now, you must select one of Calendar’s suggestions to accept it as the location. If you don’t do that, travel time won’t work, even if you type in a perfectly valid address. I'm really hoping that Apple fixes this in a future update, as it sure isn't intuitive for most people. And by "most people," I mean me.

Anyhow, you’ll know that you’ve done things correctly because you’ll see a little map of the location appear within the event window.

Afterward, set a time for your appointment—travel time won't work for all-day events. Then click on the “Add Alert, Repeat, or Travel Time” section…

…and when you select the “Travel Time” drop-down, you’ll see both walking and driving times to your appointment’s location.

Pick one of those, and you can take advantage of another new cool feature—under the “Alert” drop-down, one of the choices is now “When I need to leave.”

So you can get notifications right to your Mac (or your other iCloud-enabled devices) telling you when you've gotta go!

I think I should just go ahead and set that particular event to repeat every half-hour or so. It really is for the good of mankind.

Popular TMO Stories



“When I need to leave” would be great as long as I’m ready to head out the door and down the road as soon as it goes off. Perhaps they could add an option for “When I need to get ready to leave” adding 5 minutes to the travel time.

Shelly Brisbin

Sadly, Apple’s lack of transit support rears its ugly head again, and points up just how cool a “When I need to leave” feature might be. The map provider who shall not be named does a fair job of estimating transit travel time, including time required to walk to the stop. Whenever I plan a trip by train or bus, I add this info by hand to calendar appointments.

Melissa Holt

Hey steveald,

What I usually do is set up two alerts—one for an hour before the appointment and one for when I need to leave. You can configure additional alerts by hovering over an existing one (a small plus button appears).

Hope you find that useful. grin


Bernhard de Kok

Great article,  I wasn’t sure how to get this working and initially, it didn’t work.  I found out that you HAVE to have WiFi turned on.  It doesn’t work using just an ethernet connection.


My problem is that it always wants to default to leaving from my “Work” address from my contact card. I need some way to change this, since I am very rarely at this address (it is on the other side of the country!). If there is a prior appointment with a location, it will give the travel time between the two, but if not, it always defaults to this work address. Anyone have any idea how to fix this?

Beryn Hammil

It’s a great feature that works well on Maverick, but in my experience, sadly it doesn’t translate over to iOS, unless, of course, I’m missing something.

Scott Toughill

Agreed. The fact that it doesn’t translate to iOS devices makes it kind of useless IMO. In addition you can’t create events using travel time on iOS decides. It seems illogical. The two need to work together to be useful.

Beryn Hammil

Thanks Scott, I thought it was just me. Hopefully, Apple with do something to correct it.

Michael Gay

This worked for me for a short time. Now it doesn’t even give me suggestions unless the destination address is in my contacts list. When I start typing it’ll give me the indeterminate progress wheel and then nothing. Privacy settings are as suggested and wifi is on. Suggestions?

Roberto Felgueiras

The Suggestions Calendar provides are from you Contacts app, so if a correct suggestion doesn’t come up, add it as a contact and there it is.

Michael Gay

That’d be fine, Roberto, if I wanted EVERY destination to be in my contacts, which I don’t. But if that’s the only way, I’ll live without this feature until Apple fixes it to allow any address. [not holding my breath]

Ivar Slavenburg

I agree with both ObyCode, as iCal seems to always use my home address instead of where I really am, and Scott Toughill, that iOS integration is need to have.

Though I understand that Apple uses the WiFi database to determine the location, it’s also strange. First, because I’m in a hotel and the WiFi spot isn’t in the database and second, most of us have a Smartphone with GPS. Connecting with my iPhone or iPad and my laptop knows exactly were I am. You could add an option to overrule this or set the location manually, so at least the function works. Now, it doesn’t at all.


@Bernhard de Kok - Thanks for the wi-fi on tip. 

Seems very strange that ethernet network connection isn’t good enough.  It’s not like my iMac is going anywhere.

Joachim Bjerke Jentoft

Setting the calender to alert 1 hr before the event would be useful when “when I have to leave” is actually less than an hr before the event. In cases where the travel time is extensive and you really want an alert half an hour beforehand (yes you could calculate this from the estimated travel time, and add the corresponding time allowance, but isn’t that beating the purpose of having a calendar do these things for you?) to allow the whole family enough time to get in the car would be useful. So a function like Stevald mentions would be quite useful.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account