Manage your schedule more effectively using Calendar and Reminders!

Take Control of
Calendar and Reminders

Second Edition
Scholle McFarland

Learn how to unlock the full potential of Apple’s Calendar and Reminders! In Take Control of Calendar and Reminders, Mac expert Scholle McFarland helps you get the most out of these apps, showing you how to customize them, sync data across devices, and share meeting invitations and reminder lists. You’ll also learn how to use Siri as a shortcut, and how to fix common problems.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


In the days before personal computers and mobile devices, we had to rely on paper calendars and to-do lists to help us organize our time and activities. Now, we have powerful tools, like Apple’s Calendar and Reminders, that are much more responsive to our needs. Put an event on your schedule, invite others to join, or set yourself an alarm (or more than one). Or, keep a list of to-do items, add to it and view it on all your Apple devices, and share your list with family or friends.

In this book, veteran Mac journalist and editor Scholle McFarland will guide you through getting to know these incredibly helpful apps, including lesser-known (but handy) features. For example, did you know that in Calendar you can set an alert for when you need to leave for an event, based on the travel time calculated using the location you entered for the event? Or that Reminders can prompt you to do something not only at a certain time, but also once you’ve reached a specific destination, like the grocery store?

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to explore Calendar and Reminders, this book will show you how to make them an important part of your daily routine. If you’ve already been using Calendar and Reminders, you’ll learn how to use them more effectively, troubleshoot common problems, and delve deeper into their capabilities.

This fully revised second edition is now fully up to date with Catalina and iOS 13/iPadOS 13, and it has been expanded with new topics and lots of additional tips.

Let Scholle walk you through how to get the best out of Calendar and Reminders, including how to:

  • Customize Calendar to your liking, from setting time zones, to color coding specific calendars
  • Create events, making them repeat at regular intervals or on certain dates
  • Set up notifications and alerts, so you never miss an event
  • Invite people to events, or share your calendar with them
  • Create, manage, and share lists in Reminders
  • Set alarms in Reminders at a certain time or a certain place
  • Use Siri to save time when creating events or reminders
  • Use Siri Shortcuts to automate common tasks with Calendar and Reminders
  • Easily check events and reminders on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch
  • Troubleshoot common problems in Calendar and Reminders
  • Share calendars and reminders using iCloud Family Sharing
  • Sort reminders on your Mac
  • Print a calendar (to paper or PDF)
Scholle McFarland

About Scholle McFarland

Scholle McFarland has been covering the Mac since 1996 as an editor at MacUser magazine and then Macworld. During that time, she witnessed Apple transform from everyone’s favorite “doomed” company to everyone’s actually favorite company and is still amazed by the whole thing.

When she’s not working, Scholle (“Sholly”) likes to hang out with her family, friends, and many animals in beautiful Portland, Oregon.

Version 2.1 of Take Control of Calendar and Reminders is updated for macOS Catalina, iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and watchOS 6. Revisions include:

  • Catalina reorganized most iCloud features into a section of the new Apple ID preference pane, which changes how you connect Calendar to iCloud. For updated instructions, see “Connect Calendar to iCloud.”
  • The new Reminders app requires you to upgrade your iCloud reminders before accessing its new tools, which involves some tradeoffs. See “Avoid Heartache When Upgrading Your Reminders.”
  • The new Reminders app adds significant features to iCloud reminders, including tools that let you group Related reminder lists, customize your lists’ look, flag a reminder, nest reminders, get a reminder when messaging, add a URL, add images, and use new edit buttons to quickly set a time and date and pick a location.
  • The new Reminders app includes four built-in Smart Lists (see “What Are Smart Lists?”) that round up reminders with similar characteristics, regardless of which list they’re in. Smart List take up space in Reminders sidebar, however, which means there’s no longer an option to see a mini calendar there.
  • As of iOS 13.2, Siri no longer makes call reminders you can tap to start a call. Hopefully this feature will be added back in an update. You can still make a quick call reminder when you decline a call on your Mac or iPhone. See “Remind Yourself to Make a Call.”
  • The new Reminders app no longer lets you see locally stored reminders lists and iCloud reminders lists at the same time. See “How can I get an On My Mac option?”
  • Family Sharing no longer generates a shared Family Reminders list. If you already have one, it’s converted to a standard shared list that can include people who aren’t in your family group and be deleted.
  • Catalina reorganized all iCloud Family Sharing features into a new System Preferences pane. Find your way around with the updated chapter, “Use iCloud Family Sharing.”
  • As of Catalina and iOS 13, you can no longer restore iCloud reminders from an iCloud backup. See “What if I accidentally delete my calendars?”

June 26, 2020—We are evaluating forthcoming changes to the Calendar and Reminders apps in Big Sur and iOS 14/iPadOS 14 this fall.


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