How to automate your Mac with Calendar

How to use Apple’s Calendar app to add even more automation to your Mac.

Apple, Mac, macOS, OS X, Calendar
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We’ve looked before at some useful scripts you can create in Automator to help you get things done. Today I hope to explain how to use these scripts with Apple’s Calendar app to add even more automation to your Mac.

How to automate your Mac with Calendar

Calendar lets you set schedules, allows you to set up meetings, and has one more useful feature: the capacity to open files on your computer.

You can use this feature to automate all kinds of things, from ensuring you have the right documents open on your Mac when you start your meeting to running Automator scripts at specific times, such as to move between Light and Dark mode on your Mac. (Just create a Calendar reminder that runs this script here.)

Here is how to use this Mac Calendar feature:

  • Open Calendar, and create a new event (tap the Plus button or double-click on any date).
  • Check to make sure you have set your event to the correct date, or use the Repeat function to create daily, weekly, or monthly events. You can also create recurring all-day events.
  • Set the time at which you want this item to take place.
  • Once you have time, date, and frequency sorted out, tap the Alert button.
  • In the drop-down menu that then appears, select Open File.
  • The File Browser will appear; use this to navigate to your chosen Automator action, document, application, or whatever other supported item you wish to automate.
  • Calendar supports the creation of multiple alerts. That means you can set multiple items to launch on your schedule.

Click Done when you’ve set things up to your satisfaction. 

How will you use the automated Calendar feature?

There are lots of ways you might want to use this useful feature:

  • To launch Automator scripts, such as those designed to archive documents held in a specific file or switch between Light and Dark modes.
  • To ensure presentations and supporting documentation all launch and are available when leading a meeting.
  • To automatically open accounting or invoicing templates at specific times.
  • To launch an application or website at a specific time of day.
  • Or any repetitive task.

What about iCloud sync?

Events entered in your Calendar app sync across all your Mac and iOS devices. While you’ll get a reminder on all the devices logged into your Apple ID, the apps will automatically open on only the Mac on which you set these smart alerts partly because your automatic helper will follow file paths that only exist on that Mac. 

One more thing

Keep in mind the Multitouch gestures inside Calendar — swipe two fingers up or down on your trackpad to scroll through months in Month view, or swipe two fingers left or right to swipe between days/weeks in Day or Week views.

I have found this an invaluable way to force myself to engage in administrative tasks that I just don’t want to do — though I haven’t yet found a way to force myself not to quit those tasks once they begin.

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