OS X Lion: Creating Quick Events in iCal

Many of the Mac’s default applications got new features for Lion, and iCal was no exception. Here’s an example of how simplicity often rules the day on the Mac: rather than double-clicking to add an event—nice, but somewhat counterintuitive—you now can just type in the description of what you’re doing and when, and iCal will take care of the rest. No more tabbing through fields to change details! I’m a tiny bit giddy, sorry. I’ll calm down eventually. Anyone got a sedative?

So let’s go to iCal and check it out. First, you’ll notice that there’s a new plus button near the upper-left of the window. Click it, and you’ll get a nifty box for typing a short description of your event. (You can also hit Command-N to summon that box if that’s more your style. It’s certainly faster!)

You’ll include the title of the event you’re adding (e.g., “Dinner with Mom”), a time (“at 7,” “at noon,” or even something nonspecific like “night” or “morning”), and an indication of the date (“next Tuesday,” “November 1,” “tomorrow”). You can leave out the time designation if you’re looking to add an all-day event (“meeting with Gordon on Friday”). Also, if you don’t specify a.m. or p.m. (as in “movie with Malcolm Reynolds Tuesday at 7”), iCal makes some assumptions. If your time is between 8 and 11:59, it assumes you mean in the morning; if you type any time between 12 and 7:59, iCal will choose the afternoon or evening. 

Hit enter to confirm what you’ve typed, and after you do, iCal will create the event for you in your default calendar. If you’d like to add your appointment to a different one, just click and hold on that Quick Event button to choose from the list of your calendars. You can do this either before you start typing the details of your event or while you’re doing so.

After you’re done entering your current event, though, iCal will switch back to your default calendar for the next appointment you add. If you don’t like that behavior, it can be changed in iCal > Preferences > General by toggling the Default Calendar drop-down to “Last Selected Calendar.”

I really am proud of Apple for the simplicity and beauty of this new feature. Show this part of iCal to your friends and colleagues, and you just may make a few converts to our side. Don’t tell too many people if you can help it—the Apple Stores are busy enough as it is.