Fantastical 3.6: Openings, Proposals, and Quarterly View Plus Demonstration Videos

Today Flexibits released Fantastical version 3.6 with several big updates:

Openings

This lets you create a link where Fantastical’s web server can see your availability but not your appointments and then let folks schedule appointments with you against that. This is the first time I’ve seen someone pull off a feature like this without requiring you to hand over your account credentials. Nicely done.

Proposals

These have been in Fantastical for a while now, but this latest iteration also lets you create a link so you can have multiple people weigh in on your proposed times. It even reports the results to you directly in Fantastical.

Quarterly View

I’m going to take some credit for this one. I’ve been requesting/begging/harassing the Flexibits team. I like to work in quarters, and there were no calendar apps that would display your calendar in a quarterly view … until now.

I know many folks don’t like the subscription software model, but it is here to stay. I will say, however, that Flexibits is doing it right. All of these features are now just in the app. There is no upgrade fee or requirement for a higher subscription tier.

I made the demonstration videos for Flexibits. You can watch them below.

Fantastical Version 3.5


Flexibits released a nice update to Fantastical. This update continues to put the pedal down and simplify virtual meetings with the addition of Webex integration. This version also improves the toolset for big meetings with public meeting proposals via URL, granular control over guest permissions in Google events, and general performance improvements when dealing with lots of invitees.

My favorite thing about the new version, however, is the Shortcuts support. The Fantastical developers jumped in with both feet with their Shortcuts for Mac integration with a pile of new actions. If you want to automate calendar events on your Mac, make sure to check out this update. (I’ll be covering all of these Fantastical actions in the upcoming Shortcuts for Mac Field Guide.)

Appointments in the Menu Bar

I routinely keep my appointments listed in my menu bar when working on my Mac. As someone who does a lot of block scheduling, this is just one more reminder of where I should be as I work through the day. I also use Bartender to thin down the menu bar so truly useful data, like this, can be visible.


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There are a few ways to pull this off. Fantastical has a setting that lets me put the next appointment in my menu bar with the “Show Upcoming Item in Menu Bar” checkbox in the Appearance settings. Fantastical also gives you a calendar and list of events if you click on the menu bar icon.

There are also some apps to scratch this itch. MeetingBar is my favorite. It gives you plenty of control over exactly what will show up and also a nice scrolling list if you click on the menu bar item. Both MeetingBar and Fantastical work with the meeting services like Teams and Zoom so you can launch meetings from the menu bar. Also, MeetingBar has a cool flip board-inspired icon, and I dig flip boards.


Meeting Bar.jpg

Hidden Fantastical Settings

There are only so many settings a developer can put in a setting screen. Along the road of development, there are often niche settings that don’t make the cut. For better apps, developers often leave hidden settings to access via Terminal or URL callback.

I set many calendar events via Fantastical, and many of them are block schedules that I sometimes delete. That deletion always requires a confirmation, which was making me nuts. I asked the team at Flexibits about this, and they turned me on to the URL below, which, when you put in Safari and execute, turns off the deletion confirmation in Fantastical. Note the SkipDeleteWarning name and the value=1 (which means “Yes”).

To make this work, quit Fantastical, paste what’s below in Safari, and press return:

x-fantastical3://defaults?key=SkipDeleteWarning&value=1&type=bool&group=1

After running this, I can delete calendar events with abandon.

To turn this off, you would run the same command, setting the value to 0, like this:

x-fantastical3://defaults?key=SkipDeleteWarning&value=0&type=bool&group=1

There are more cool Fantastical hidden preferences.

Full All Day Row in Display. This puts all day events in one row rather than showing multiple all-day events on one line. This one is iOS only.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=FullAllDayRowInList&value=1&type=bool

Always Show All: Set to YES (“1”) to have the details always visible in the event and reminder popover.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=AlwaysShowAll&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Dim All Past Items: Set to YES to dim all events and tasks on days in the past. This affects Mac and iOS, List, Month, Week, and Day View.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DimAllPastItems&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Do Not Dim Passed Events: Set to YES to not dim passed events in the list.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DoNotDimPassedEvents&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Hide Location In List: Set to YES to hide event locations and reminder geofences in the list.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=HideLocationInList&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Default Event Duration: Specify the default event duration in seconds (gives finer control than the presets in the app). For example, to make a default event duration of 25 minutes, use 1500 seconds.
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DefaultEventDuration&value=1500&type=int&group=1

Days Per Week: Change the number of days per week in Week view. This can be set to anything between 3 and 21 (gives finer control than the app’s presets).
x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DaysPerWeek&value=10&type=int

My thanks to Michael and Kent at Flexibits for passing along these additional settings.

Fantastical 3.3


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With both Big Sur and Apple Silicon shipping in the last week, I’m behind on some of the software updates. Fantastical released version 3.3 with a new Big Sur design and support for adding Microsoft Teams meetings in an interface similar to their Zoom integration. The other big update here is the widgets. The Fantastical widgets (there are a lot of them) for iPhone, iPad, and even Mac put Apple’s calendar widget to shame. I’m using the large size month calendar and event list on my iPhone home screen.

It’s a nice update and already out. I continue to use Fantastical daily to manage my calendar appointment and block schedule.

Fantastical 3.2’s Calendar Widgets


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Flexibits has released Fantastical Version 3.2, with 12 new widgets for iOS and iPadOS 14 and Scribble support for iPadOS 14.

You can now customize the exact views of Fantastical how you want on your Homescreen with 12 unique widgets to choose from. Do you want small widgets to simply show the date or the next upcoming event or task? Maybe you would prefer medium widgets to show a bit more information or side-by-side monthly calendars? How about large widgets that provide an in-depth agenda? Goldilocks this and find out what works best for you. 

Of course the Fantastical widgets are gorgeous. I immediately kicked the Apple Calendar widget off my home screen and replaced it with the one from Fantastical. It displays my calendar data better, includes the current date on my home screen, and adds the weather to boot. One final advantage, putting it on as widget allowed me to pull the app out of my dock. Win-win.

Last year I built an intricate Shortcut to turn my agenda into a PDF and then save it as the home screen. It all fell apart when Apple pulled the rug from under me by removing the “Set image as wallpaper” shortcut action. Having Fantastical on my home screen is way better.

Fantastical for Families

Today Flexibits announced Fantastical Premium for Families. With it, you can get up to 5 family members in Fantastical for $7.99 a month. If you’ve got more than a few members of your family on Fantastical, that’s a nice discount. It’s also an excellent excuse to put the rest of your family on Fantastical. With Fantastical’s power features, it runs circles around the built-in calendar app. Want to learn more about Fantastical? There is a free Field Guide for that.

Fantastical 3.1 Releases and New Videos

Today Flexibits released a major update to Fantastical with version 3.1. This is the “working from home” update with a bunch of new features aimed at people surprised to find themselves working from home:

Time-Based Calendar Sets

Calendar sets have always been a cool feature. Now you can have them trigger automatically at a specific time of day.

Better Conference Calling

Fantastical’s Zoom integration is excellent. You can add a zoom call straight from the app. With this update, Fantastical can now auto-detect conference calls with several popular conferencing services, and it adds a one-click “join” button to your calendar (and your menubar) as the event approaches.

And More Improvements

They also added new Mac appearance options customized for both light and dark mode, added iMessage stickers, and made several other improvements and optimizations.

This is a free update for Fantastical subscribers. I made a few videos for Flexibits showing off the new features. Below is one, but you can find several more on Fantastical’s website. I like the way Flexibits has continued to release features of consequence since the app launch. I am using both the new time-based calendar sets and zoom integration daily. Learn more about Fantastical at their website.

If you subscribed to the Fantastical Field Guide, these new videos are also now available in the course for viewing and download.

Fantastical 3 and the Fantastical Field Guide

Fanstastical 3 Is Available

Fantastical, Version 3, launches today. Fantastical has always been known for its powerful text parser. Type a few words and create an event. This new version stretches the idea of a calendar app for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. 

I had a lot more involvement with the Fantastical 3 development than just running the beta. To begin, I served in a semi-official “calendar nerd” role over the last few years, as I sent the Fantastical development team unreasonable requests in my quest to have my “perfect” calendar app. No matter how ridiculous my demand, I sent it in and they just kept delivering. Second, I spent a lot of time on the app as it finished up development, and I made nearly two hours of screencasts on how the app works. You can see those screencasts on YouTube or get the new free Fantastical Field Guide.

So I’ve gone deep with this app, and I’m a fan. There are a lot of things about calendars that go beyond creating and editing events. Fantastical attempts to tackle those extra problems, and that’s where the app really shines.

Take proposed events, for example. For years, if I wanted to schedule a meeting with someone, I would send them an email with a proposed meeting time. If I was on top of my game, I would simultaneously create an event on my calendar with a question mark at the beginning to save the date. For example, “?Lunch with Stephen”. If Stephen later confirmed, I could edit the event to remove the question mark, and I’d be set. But what if I wanted to propose two or five different dates to Stephen? Things got tedious fast.

This new Fantastical solves this problem for me. I can propose multiple times to Stephen, and he’ll get an email which shows those options. Once he chooses, it will communicate back to my calendar, locking in the agreed time and removing all of the other proposed events automatically. Stephen doesn’t have to be a Fantastical user for this to work. Also, regardless of Stephen’s calendar app, the email will let him create an event for the agreed time. This solves a problem I’ve had with scheduling events for years, and it is just one of the many innovations with Fantastical 3. Here is a short video demonstration.

For the first time, you can get Fantastical for free, which gets you Fantastical’s core app and the date parser. For all of the premium features, there is a subscription version ($4.99/month or $39.99/year). If you were a Fantastical 2 customer, the new version gives you all of the same features from version 2 without requiring a subscription. There is also a free trial period with the premium features so you can kick the tires for yourself.

I love the idea of a calendar app that works harder for me, and Fantastical 3 does that. And if you would like to learn a lot more about Fantastical …

The Fantastical Field Guide

In addition, I am pleased to announce the release of a brand new free Field Guide, the Fantastical Field Guide. I have been using Fantastical since it was just a Mac menu bar app. I like the way this application works and the way it speeds up my interactions with my calendar. Over the years, the app has grown into something much more with versions for the iPhone and iPad, and a dedicated application on the Mac. In my opinion, it is superior to the Apple Calendar app in just about every measurable way.

When the Fantastical developers were getting ready to release version 3 of the application, they asked me to prepare an extensive screencast series on how the app works and how I use it. I was happy to do so. That resulted in nearly two hours of video screencasts with me working in Fantastical 3 and explaining how to use its many features. Along the way, I was able to drop in a lot of good general advice about how to use a digital calendar. When the project was done, we were all so happy with it that the Fantastical team gave me permission to release all of these videos as a free Field Guide.

So, here you go. The Fantastical Field Guide is a free download that is as close as I am going to get to a calendaring field guide anytime soon. I hope you enjoy it.