Set an unmissable iCal alert

Set an unmissable iCal alert
Mac Tip #416, 23 December 2009

If you really need to do something you may add it as a To Do item in iCal. But what say you miss the little alert window when it pops up? Set a file as an alert and you can make it unmissable. Here’s how.

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Remember important tasks with iCal alarms

Standard iCal alarm.

Standard iCal alarm.

Remember appointments and To Do items with It’s installed on all recent Macs. It also allows you to set several alarms for each event or To Do item.

The standard alarm is a puny little thing, easy to overlook. It’s quite missable, in fact.

Add Alarms in iCal

iCal alarm.

iCal alarm.

  1. Double click an item in iCal to edit it.
  2. Choose an alarm type from the Alarm pop-up.
  3. Add a Date and Time for the Alarm.

Alarms work whether you have iCal open on your computer or not, so you can Quit iCal after adding an alarm, if you wish.

Add an Open File alarm

iCal can open a file for you when the alarm time comes around. This may be a document you need to work on, or it could be an image, sound, movie or other type of file, whose sole purpose it to remind you of what you need to do.

To add an Open File alarm type:

  1. Choose Open File as the alert type. The default file iCal is selected to be opened. If you choose that, iCal opens up as the alarm.
  2. Choose your own file by clicking on the iCal alarm and selecting Other…. A standard open file dialog box appears. Note that previously used files are listed for quick access at the bottom of the list of alarm types.
  3. Choose your file and click the Select button. Your selected file replaces iCal as the file to be opened.

Once one alarm is set up iCal adds another Alarm line.

Set more alarms if you wish. I don’t know the maximum number of alarms, but in my testing I reached 7 before I grew bored and gave up.

iCal opens the first alarm file

Once the time for the first alarm is reached iCal takes the action you specified. If you chose to Open a File then the selected file opens and comes to the front.

In my video, this was a full-screen image file I had created.

iCal opens the second alarm file

iCal opens any other files you selected as further alarms, at the times you set.

In my testing I created a .mov file (a small movie), but although iCal opened the movie it didn’t play it.

When I created a .aiff sound file iCal opened it in iTunes and played it. I had set the saved .aiff file to loop, but iTunes played it only once.

What kinds of files have you used as alarms?

Do you have any comments on this Tip? Add them below.

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