Fantastical 2, the natural-language mini calendar has grown up

Fantastical was the natural-language calendar replacement for the Mac. It used to be an unobtrusive, little calendar app that lived in your menu bar. The new version of this venerable calendar app is now a full-blown calendar with a mini edition included. It resembles the iPad version well but has a couple of neat extra tricks up its sleeve.

Fantastical 2 is a beautiful rendition of a calendar on the Mac. It looks a lot like the gorgeous iPad version and integrates with that one through handoff (which unfortunately, doesn’t help older Mac users much). The Fantastical calendar app is a gorgeous replacement for Apple’s own Calendar app, with more options and features. The app comes with a sharing extension, a Notification Center widget and a Mini window that sits in your menubar until you tear it off and optionally let it float above your other windows.

Fantastical 2

Fantastical isn’t only about design improvements, though. There’s new stuff as well. While the Mini window is great because you can place it anywhere you like on the desktop, even float it, the best new feature in my opinion, is Calendar Sets, a new option in the Preferences. A calendar set allows you to group specific calendars together and only concentrate on the group you want to work with. It’s flexible enough to let you switch to other sets at any time, simply by pressing a control-number combination on your keyboard, or by selecting from the pop-up menu.

In the same spirit you’ll find Time and Geofence alerts for reminders a brilliant new addition. Basically, it allows you to set an alert and have it go off only when you’re crossing time zones or geographical boundaries. More down to earth I found the ability to just type in appointments and reminders as you are used to remembering them, somewhat improved, although you can still confuse Fantastical if you’re in the mood.

I can’t remember if the previous version of Fantastical had this too, but in version 2 you can force-create reminders by simply starting an entry with “reminder”, “todo”, “task” or “√” (option-v). A specific date is entered by double-clicking it in the calendar, either in the Mini window or the full-scale calendar app.

Searching a specific calendar instead of all is possible by starting your search with a “/“ followed by the calendar’s name (of first letter if there’s no doubt possible).

Fantastical 2

Finally, the Today widget shows you today’s events and reminders, while the Share and Action widgets serve to send text to Fantastical 2 from apps that support the Share widget. That is also a new feature and one that works incredibly well. Of course, the System Service, which works in a lot more apps, is still available too. The Action widget didn’t work on my system, but I’ve noticed it just doesn’t work well, period.

So, is it worth upgrading Fantastical to version 2, or buying it at all? I’d say it definitely is. It not only looks better than other calendar apps, it’s also more complete, more intuitive, nicer to work with, and it integrates with Fantastical 2 on your iOS device if your devices support handoff. Otherwise you’re stuck with iCloud.

Fantastical 2 for Mac is available in the App Store and costs €39.99, which for the comfort and features you’re getting is an absolute bargain.

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