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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Working with Schedules in iCal

Much of our lives, like it or not, revolve around adhering to a schedule. Calendars, in whatever form we use them, keep us informed of upcoming appointments, holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Your MacBook can serve as your scheduling work center. Snow Leopard’s iCal application (found in the Applications folder) is a fast and well-connected way to keep your life in order.

Unlike applications such as Microsoft Outlook, iCal is an unimposing piece of software that shows you everything you need within a single window.

iCal’s general operation is similar to other Snow Leopard applications; selecting a calendar in the calendar list displays the content of the calendar to the right. Double-clicking a calendar entry shows the details of the entry.

Despite its simple appearance, iCal works just as well for managing calendars located on your MacBook as it can interacting with Exchange, Google, and other standards-based enterprise calendaring systems.

Adding Calendars

The first step in using iCal is to establish the calendars that you use to store your events. iCal comes with two local calendars already created: Home and Work. Use these default calendars or create new calendars depending on how you want to categorize your events.

>>>step-by-step: Creating Local Calendars

Local calendars store their information directly on your MacBook. Without the use of syncing, which is available with MobileMe, local calendars cannot be viewed anywhere but on your laptop.

  1. Open the iCal application from the Applications folder.
  2. Click the + button under the calendar list. A new Untitled calendar appears with the name field selected. Type to replace Untitled with whatever name you’d like.
  3. Verify that the checkbox next to the calendar is selected so that the calendar entries are visible.

Nesting Local Calendars in Groups

To help organize calendars, you can create groups—similar to folders—that hold local calendars. Groups make it simple to turn several calendars on and off.

  1. In iCal, choose File, New Calendar Group, from the menu bar.
  2. A new Group item appears; type to replace the name with the label you’d like.
  3. Click and drag one or more existing calendars onto the group name.
  4. Use the arrow in front of the group to expand or collapse the group as needed.

Connecting to Server-based Calendars

Unlike a local calendar, server-based calendars are stored on a central network location rather than on your MacBook. Network calendars can be accessed and modified in iCal on multiple computers. Many businesses use Exchange Server, for example, to provide shared calendars and scheduling. Another option, Google Calendar, provides free server-based calendaring that you can use both in iCal and in Safari.

  1. In iCal, choose iCal, Preferences from the menu bar.
  2. Click the Accounts icon in the Preferences toolbar.
  3. Click the + icon at the bottom of the Accounts list.
  4. Use the Account type drop-down menu to choose your server calendar type (or choose automatic to let iCal try to choose for you).
  5. Enter the connection information requested, usually an email address and password.
  6. Click Create to create the account.
  7. The new calendar account appears in the Accounts list, with the details to the right.
  8. Close the Accounts window.
  9. The iCal calendar list displays a new section with any calendars that are located on the server.

Subscribing to a Public Shared Calendar

Another iCal calendar type is a shared calendar. These read-only Internet-published calendars are available for TV show schedules, holidays, sports team game dates, and other useful information. To subscribe to a shared calendar, copy the URL for the calendar and then follow these steps:

  1. Choose Calendar, Subscribe from the iCal menu bar.
  2. Enter the URL for the calendar you are subscribing to.
  3. Click Subscribe.
  4. If prompted, enter a login name and password to access the calendar and click OK.
  5. Set a name, color, and description for the calendar.
  6. To enable the calendar to automatically update, choose an auto-refresh time.
  7. Click OK.
  8. The subscribed calendar appears in a new section within the calendar list.

Viewing Calendars and Calendar Groups

After you’ve set up one or more calendars in iCal, you can view their contents. To view a calendar or calendar group in the calendar list, follow these steps.

  1. In iCal, click the checkbox in front of the calendar you wish to view.
  2. Use the Day, Week, and Month buttons to narrow or expand your calendar view.
  3. Use the arrows to move forward or backward by day, week, or month.
  4. Use the mini-calendar to quickly navigate within a traditional calendar-style view.

Working with Events

What good is a calendar if you don’t have the ability to add events? In iCal, events can be anything you’d like—birthdays, outings, reminders, anything—as long as they are associated with a date. If you’d like to include other people in the event, you can even send out invitations that are compatible with other calendaring systems, such as Exchange.

Creating a New Event

Events can hold a large number of attributes that describe what the events are, when they are, where they are located, and so on. All you need to know to create an event, though, is the date and a name for the event.

  1. In iCal, highlight the calendar you wish to add an event to.
  2. Navigate to the day on which the event takes place.
  3. Switch to day or week view.
  4. Click and drag from the start time to the end time to create the event. The default event name, New Event, is highlighted automatically.
  5. Type a name for the event, and then click off of the event to save it.

Editing Event Information

To edit the information for an event that you’ve created, first find the event on the calendar where you added it and then follow these steps.

  1. Find and double-click the event you want to edit.
  2. Unless you’ve just added the event, an event summary window appears.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. The event information window appears.
  5. Click any of the available fields to change values such as start or end times, location, alarms (notifications), and so on.
  6. Click Done when you are finished editing the event.

Sending Event Invitations

iCal can work directly with Mail to send invitations to your events. When the invitees respond, their attendance status is updated directly in iCal. Use these steps to send invitations to an event.

  1. Find and double-click the event you wish to send invitations for.
  2. Unless you’ve just added the event, an event summary window appears.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. The event information window appears.
  5. Click the Add Invitees link.
  6. Enter email addresses in the field that appears, just as you would in Mail.
  7. Click Send to send the invitations.
  8. An icon appears in the upper-right corner of the event to show that invitations have been sent. A question mark indicates that responses haven’t been received from all invitees.

Accepting Invitations

You can easily add to your calendar invitations that you receive. Even though invitations are sent through email, Snow Leopard’s Mail program works with iCal to automatically transfer the invitations to the iCal Notifications area where you can act on them.

  1. When a new invitation arrives, the iCal application icon updates to show the count of invitations in the Dock.
  2. The event is shown with a dotted outline in iCal.
  3. Click the notification button to show the notification panel in iCal.
  4. Use the Maybe, Decline, and Accept buttons to respond to the invitation.
  5. Declined invitations are removed from your calendar, accepted and tentative invitations are added.

Searching Events

If you’re a heavy scheduler, or have dozens of enterprise calendars to manage, sometimes it’s useful to be able to quickly search for events, which is a breeze in iCal.

  1. Make sure the checkboxes are selected for the calendars and calendar groups you want to search.
  2. Choose which fields to include in the search using the drop-down menu in the Search field.
  3. Enter your search terms in the Search field.
  4. The results of the search are displayed in a pane at the bottom of the iCal window. Click an entry to jump to that event.

Working With To Do Items

In addition to events, iCal offers a simple To Do list. Combined with events, to do items provide a means of managing projects and other task-oriented or time-sensitive happenings.

>>>step-by-step: Displaying the To Do List

Your default iCal view does not include To Do items. To see them, you need to click the pushpin icon to show the To Do item pane.

  1. Click the pushpin icon in the lower right of the iCal window.
  2. The To Do item list appears.

Adding a To Do Item

To Do items are added in a way that’s similar to how you add calendar events. With the To Do item list visible, complete these steps.

  1. Select a calendar that the To Do item should be associated with.
  2. Double-click the empty space inside the To Do item list.
  3. A new To Do is created and the name is highlighted. Type to enter a new name.
  4. Use the drop-down menu to the right of the To Do item to set a priority.

Editing To Do Item Details

After creating a new To Do item, you might want to fine-tune the details. Editing the To Do item’s details gives you the ability to set a due date, priority, and more.

  1. Double-click the name of the To Do item.
  2. The To Do detail window displays.
  3. Use the available fields to set alarms, associate the item with a specific calendar, or set a due date.
  4. Click the Close button.

Removing To Do Items

After you’ve completed a To Do item, chances are that you don’t want to have to think about it any more. To automatically delete or hide To Do items after they’ve been checked as complete, follow these steps.

  1. Choose iCal, Preferences from the menu bar.
  2. Click the Advanced icon in the toolbar.
  3. Check the boxes beside Hide To Do Items or Delete To Do Items and provide the number of days before these rules take effect.
  4. Close the iCal preferences.

Printing Calendars

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we can’t take our MacBooks (or even our iPhones) everywhere. When you need your calendar information in paper form, iCal does an amazing job of printing calendar and itinerary views.

  1. Choose File, Print from the iCal menu bar.
  2. Set the view you want to print.
  3. Set a time range for the calendar being printed.
  4. Click the checkboxes beside each calendar to print.
  5. Select which options should be added to the printed page.
  6. Click Continue to start the typical Snow Leopard printing process.
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