Whatever your discipline, calendar apps are something every creative needs. Let's face it, even if you have an amazing memory, it can still tricky to keep track of every single thing, day in day out. That all-important client meeting. Those multiple deadlines. That pub lunch with a long-time collaborator. That flight. That gig. That conference. That parcel you need to stay in for.
Prefer a paper version? Explore our roundup on the best calendar 2021.
The best calendar apps lay it all in front of you, whatever device you're using, and sends you reminders just in case you forgot to look. And that can mean the difference between a lost client and a retained one; a new job or a missed opportunity. For this reason, pretty much every device these days comes with a calendar app that covers all the basics. These include allowing you to create and edit events easily, view all your entries in day, week and month views, and set up reminders to make sure you never miss an appointment.
But while these standard calendar apps are competent, some of us need a little more fine control, or something a bit more specialised, and so a number of rival third-party apps have sprung up to fill the gap. In this post, we've picked six of the best calendar apps around (be sure to check out our round up of the best iPad apps and the best Apple Watch apps for designers too). The start of a new year is the perfect time to start forming good habits, so why not download one of these great calendar apps today, and start getting your life and work nicely organised for the next 12 months ahead?
If you’re finding Apple’s inbuilt calendar a little buggy and clunky (as many do) then we’d heartily recommend splashing a little cash on Fantastical 2. It’s just so much more user-friendly, uncluttered and intuitive, whether you want to add new events to your calendar, edit existing events, or glance at what’s coming up in the next day, week, month or year.
Beyond that, it uses natural language processing to figure out what you’re typing, often from just a few keystrokes. Reminders work in a logical and well-thought out fashion, and we love how it displays an inline map of an event's provided location. It integrates nicely with your iCloud and Google accounts, too, plus it has excellent voice support.
Perhaps most importantly, Fantastical 2 works seamlessly across Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Note, however, that you do have to pay for and download separate apps for each of these, which can add up to a significant expense. That said, if you spend a lot of time inputting and editing calendar events, and all of your devices sit within Apple’s ecosystem, this should save you a lot of time, effort and frustration in return. Plus you can take out a 21-day free trial to find out if you like it before you commit.
The first thing we should say about Business Calendar 2 is that although it’s aimed at business use, there’s no reason you can’t use it for broader life events as well or instead. And indeed, we’d encourage you to do so if you’re an Android user because it really is very good; we’re argue it even has the edge over the very capable Google Calendar app.
Why? Largely because, as well as expertly handling all the basics (providing a clear view of appointments, making it easy to manage multiple calendars, and providing support for Google, Outlook and Exchange calendars), it’s highly customisable. In other words, you can tweak the look and feel of your calendars using a variety of supplied themes and widgets that are very easy to use.
While Business Calendar 2 comes at a (relatively small) fee, we’d argue that it’s worth the cost to have greater control over the presentation of your calendars to suit your own personal needs. And if you’re unsure, there’s a basic, ad-supported version that's free, so you can try before you buy.
If you're hunting for a calendar app with real aesthetic appeal, then check out iOS app Timepage. The brainchild of Moleskine, the Italian manufacturers of the world’s most stylish notebooks, it boasts a beautifully restrained, elegantly minimalist interface. And it's a pretty fabulous app in terms of functionality too.
We especially love the flexibility of how you can view your dates. For instance, on mobile, split-screen mode allows you to simultaneously view your calendar and other apps. On desktop, you can expand the month view full-screen, enabling you to see up to six weeks at once. There are also double view options, allowing you to see things like your daily schedule and timeline, day weather and week weather, event details and timeline, side by side. Plus, you can personalise your timeline by choosing the number of days shown, and choose to shade alternate weeks, weekends or the past.
As you’d expect from an iOS app, Timepage supports Siri, syncs with other calendars such as Google, Outlook, Exchange, Facebook and CalDAV, and integrates with Apple’s Today View widgets.
Our favourite calendar app for organising meetings is relatively new on the scene. Woven was launched in 2018 by former Facebook execs Timothy Campos and Burc Arpat, who wanted to combine a calendar app with smart scheduling features, powered by AI and natural language processing.
Dubbed “the calendar app for busy professionals”, Woven is completely free to download for Mac, iOS and Windows, and also works in the browser. The app integrates with Google's Gmail and G Suite accounts, while Microsoft Outlook and Office 365 integration are promised soon.
Winner of the 2019 Appy Award for Productivity, this clever tool together every stage of the meeting life-cycle, from planning, scheduling and preparation, to the actual meeting and later follow-ups, in a way that makes perfect intuitive sense. For instance, it parses emails people send to you and allows you to agree to a suggestion and schedule the event in a single click. If you don’t schedule a lot of meetings, then Woven is probably not the best calendar app for you, but if you do, then it should save you a significant amount of time and energy.
If you’re either studying or teaching, and your main need for a calendar app is to keep on top of your academic schedule, then it makes sense to use one designed specifically for that purpose. And our favourite has to be My Study Life.
Rotation schedules, assignment deadlines, revision timetables, exam dates, terms and semesters can all be difficult to track of. But this cross-platform app has all these concepts in its DNA, thus saving you from the kind of lengthy configuration you’d need to put into more vanilla calendar apps.
My Study Life is available on the web or as a mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows phones. And best of all, it’s free to use. The biggest downside of My Study Life is that you can’t set reminders very far in advance, which is a much-complained about drawback we hope they fix soon.
Finally, if your main reason for needing a calendar app is to keep on top of tasks, then we’d recommend you give Any.Do a try. This is essentially a productivity tool and calendar app in one, and does a great job of combining the two functions in a way that makes practical sense.
Any.do started life as a to-do list app, then in 2016 it added a calendar, along with a personal assistant. The current version can be synced across multiple devices as well as existing calendar apps, including Google Calendar, iCloud and Outlook, enabling you to import events and organise your tasks, lists and reminders within a single app.
The standout feature of Any.do is how many platforms it supports: not just Mac, Windows, iOS and Android but a range of next-gen devices, from Apple Watch to Amazon Alexa, and there’s even a Slack extension.
There is a free version of Any.Do, but you need to upgrade to the premium plan, which is billed monthly, to unlock the best features. These include colour coding, so you can get the look and feel of your calendars and events just as you like it, as well as location-based reminders and unlimited attachments.