How to Get the Most Out of Fantastical on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

mobtkr18 May 2022Last Update : 1 month ago
How to Get the Most Out of Fantastical on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Apple’s line of built-in apps has come a long way across all platforms, but there are always ways to enhance your experience on iPhone, iPad or Mac with a host of great third-party options.

One such app that Apple can learn a lot from is Flexibits’ Fantastical, widely regarded as one of the best calendar apps on any Apple platform.

Offering a basic free option and a premium subscription, Fantastical has been popular for years thanks to its natural language input and a range of handy features, such as weather forecasts or easier ways to instantly join online meetings. For us, it’s great for both of those things, but also because it offers a sleek design that sets it apart from Apple’s sparse stock option that’s all white, all black, but little in between the two.

If you’re looking to take your calendar to the next level, or just better understand an endless stream of Zoom calls and Google Meet invites, here are some ways to get the most out of Fantastical on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Know the difference between paid and free options

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Fantastical is a free download on all platforms, and at no cost you’ll get access to features that are, admittedly, similar to Apple’s own Calendar app.

The free version will let you add multiple calendars, events, and tasks, and manage all of these within the app with a variety of display options. However, you will only have access to a “set” of calendars, so you cannot group more than one set of calendars together.

Fantastical Premium costs $4.99 / £4.49 / AU$5.89 per month. For that price, you get unlimited calendar sets and entrance guests, drive time notifications, access to the Apple Watch app, and automatic switching of calendar sets. This means that you can automatically switch between work and personal calendars when you go to or from the office, for example.

You’ll also get 10-day weather forecasts, as opposed to the standard three-day forecasts for free users, and you can securely view your colleagues’ and friends’ calendars.

Your fantastic assistant

Fantastic voice functionality on macOS

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Fantastical’s biggest selling point is how it handles natural language input. While other calendar apps require you to enter data into multiple fields, such as “Dinner with Daryl,” followed by a location, date, and time in separate fields, Fantastical dramatically speeds up the things.

Using this same example, you can open Fantastical and just type “Dinner with Daryl at restaurant name Friday 12 pm’ and it will put that data in your calendar in less than a second. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s remarkable that Apple hasn’t attempted to do the same with Siri.

This same natural language input also applies to recurring appointments. Fantastical is smart enough to distinguish terms like “every Monday in June”, “every other Thursday”, etc. This means you could theoretically schedule a week, month, or even a year or more of recurring appointments with a simple series of sentences.

Manage your invites

Fantastic Guests on macOS

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Fantastical is great for connecting to various calendar accounts to put your appointments front and center. If you use Google (including Workspace), Microsoft 365, or many personal email and calendar services, you’ll be able to sync event invitations as well as the events themselves.

This means that when something appears in your inbox with a meeting attached, you won’t even need to access your email to find it. Fantastical will add an indicator for you to find the invite and choose to accept, maybe, or decline by tapping or clicking.

You can only use this feature if you have subscribed to the Premium subscription. Still, if you get a lot of emails with lots of meetings included, it might be worth looking at subscribing for that feature alone.

Fantastic in the menu bar on macOS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Widgets have already proven to be a useful feature on Apple devices, and Flexbits has made a bunch of them available to you. There’s a dizzying array of options too, with everything from the app icon and today’s date, to fortnightly views and a window showing your next appointment.

If you’re using a Mac, having Fantastical in the menu bar is a godsend in today’s meeting world. If you have an upcoming meeting on a supported platform, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, you’ll see the corresponding icon in your menu bar.

With two clicks, you can instantly join the meeting on these platforms, saving you the hassle of opening the full app, finding the appointment, and searching for the meeting link you need.

As a bonus, Fantastical can run in the background without needing to take up space on your dock – especially handy for those with smaller MacBook displays like the MacBook Air where every pixel counts.

Add errands to tasks function

Fantasy Tasks on iOS

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Besides being a great calendar app with multiple views, Fantastical also offers a built-in to-do feature. While it’s not as complex as what you’d find on a task-specific app like Things 3 or Todoist, it offers a basic range of features that won’t cost extra and will still sync across all your devices.

This means you can write down a shopping list, chores, or things you need to do and give them a due date — you’ll then see them appear on your calendar in Fantastical.

There’s also support for iOS and Todoist reminders, meaning you can automatically import existing reminders, along with any assigned dates. This is especially handy if you have a ton of tasks to complete, but don’t want to add “one-by-one import reminders” to the list.

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