I dislike cluttering my Mac’s menubar with too many menu extra, i.e. first- and third-party applications that put a permanent icon on the menubar for quick access (or sometimes sole access) to the application’s options. But one particular kind of application I have always found quite handy is the calendar. The icon allows me to check the date with a glance, and by clicking it I can see right away the calendar’s month view.
It’s also the kind of application that is soon taken for granted, so I wanted to quickly enumerate the menu calendar utilities I’ve been using since the first versions of Mac OS X.
- MenuCalendarClock for iCal [$19.95; See also: MacUpdate link] — I’ve had this on my menubar from the days of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, but actually I used it until mid-2009, when my 12-inch PowerBook G4 went from primary to secondary machine. I still have MenuCalendarClock on my Titanium G4 PowerBooks. I loved its compactness. Not that the most recent menu calendar apps are less compact, but back then, on a clamshell iBook G3 with an 800×600 screen resolution, every pixel did count. Judging from the webpage, it appears that this app was no longer updated/developed after Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
- MagiCal [Free] — I’ve used this app for a long time as well, from 2009 to early 2014, and it’s still the menu calendar app on my aluminium G4 PowerBooks running Mac OS X 10.5.8. It’s available as a PowerPC-only, Intel-only, or Universal Binary. It’s still a personal favourite: of all the calendar apps I’ve used, MagiCal is the one with the most customisable appearance. For example, the menu icon can be of different styles and colours, it can show just the date, or date and month, or date and day. The app seems to work fine also under recent OS X versions (Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan). Last year I decided to look for an alternative after noticing that every now and then the related background process would hang and the date would not refresh. But it may be an issue related to my specific Mac configuration, not necessarily a fault of MagiCal. Your mileage may vary. (But if you still use G3/G4/G5 PowerPC Macs running Tiger or Leopard, I definitely recommend it.)
- Day-O [Free] — I’ve used Shaun Inman’s nifty calendar app from early 2014, when I was on Mavericks, up to ten days ago, when I upgraded to El Capitan (without passing through Yosemite). Simple, lightweight, well designed. It’s not that it has stopped working, but Inman hasn’t updated it for Yosemite, and it doesn’t play well with OS X 10.10 and 10.11 Dark Mode for the menubar and Dock. If you’re not using Dark Mode, Day-O still works fine under these most recent OS X versions.
- Itsycal [Free] — I found Itsycal a few months ago when I was checking whether the developer was still working on Itsy, one of my favourite Twitter clients for Mac. I couldn’t try it, though, because I was still under Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks and the minimum requirement was 10.10 Yosemite, but I bookmarked the link so that I could check again if and when I upgraded to Yosemite. It turns out that I upgraded directly to OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and when it came to finding an alternative to Day-O, I switched to Itsycal at once. Not as customisable as MagiCal, but definitely well-designed and a pleasure to use. Under El Capitan, as the developer notes on the app’s webpage, you can’t change Itsycal’s position in the menubar as you could under Yosemite. Apart from that, it works flawlessly.