BusyCal 3.0 Review

I was going to start this post by saying

“As a bit of a Mac Fanboy I generally use the built in Apple software for most things”

and then write a list of the Apple software that I use. When I got to the list though I realised that this isn’t in fact the case.

  • I do use Apple’s built in Mail app for emails
  • I use Chrome rather than Safari as my main browser
  • I use a combination of Pages (but an old version) and Word so I’m not dedicated to Apple for Word Processing
  • I use a combination of Excel and Numbers for spreadsheets as well
  • I use iTunes or Spotify for music, so again no apple devotion there
  • I  use Evernote rather than the Apple  Notes app
  • I do Use the Apple Reminders app
  • I do use the Apple Photos app
  • I use BusyContacts rather than Apple’s Contacts app
  • I use BusyCal rather than Apple’s Calendars

The last of these is the reason for my post today as BusyCal been updated to version 3.0

Software Updates

I do like to keep my software up to date where I can and there are a few apps that I look forward to being updated. BusyCal and BusyContacts from the people at BusyMac are two of these, along with any Apple software and my coding app of choice Coda. So a new update to BusyCal that was released today was quite exciting. I didn’t hesitate to update despite the fact that this was a paid update. The usual price is $49.99, but the upgrade price for previous owners of BusyCal 2 was $29 which worked out at just over £25. You can buy it, upgrade it or download a 30 day free trial from this BusyCal Download Page.

BusyCal 3.0

BusyCal 3.0

BusyCal 3.0 Review

BusyCal, as it’s name implies, is calendar software and a direct competitor to Apple’s built in Calender app. I’ve been using it for a number of years now in place of the built in Calendar app and it has worked flawlessly. The developers have been good with any support queries too which is always good. I can’t quite remember what it was that won me over from the built in app but it must have been something. I have tried to go back to Apple’s Calendar app a few times when new versions are released. The ‘travelling time’ feature in the OSX Mavericks release nearly tempted me back but I’ve always ended up defaulting back to BusyCal.

The new version 3 brings it back up to date with Apple’s Calendar app though so now there should be even less reason to revert back to Calendar. Version 3 of BusyCal adds the same travelling time feature and brings with it a new, cleaner, more modern design.

So, What’s new?

The Look and Feel

Info Panel

Info Panel

The overall look is a little cleaner and fresher and a little less cluttered, but to be honest it’s not a huge change. It’s a calendar app after all so it has to display a calendar and there’s only so many ways of doing that.

As an info-junkie I like to see everything at a glance and the ‘Month view’ is my preferred view. You can of course easily switch between this and week views, day views, yearly view and list views. You can also customise the number of weeks shown in the month view, the number of days shown in a week view and the hours shown in a day view. None of that is new though, but the look is a little fresher. In fact, now that I come to think of it, I think it was this customisability that won me over from Apple’s Calendar app in the first place.

Apparently the info panel has been completely redesigned as well, but once again I didn’t notice a huge change here. I did used to have a problem with the info panel resizing itself or hiding itself so hopefully that has been fixed – so far so good, but I’ve only used it for a day or two so far.

Integrated and Timed To-Do’s

To-do’s are integrated into your calendar and new in version 3.0 is support for timed to do’s. This means that you can assign times to your to-do’s now not just dates. These to-do’s will be displayed inline with your calendar events for a particular day but also in the to-do info panel.


Integrated To-Do's

Integrated To-Do’s

Travel Time

Travel Time Feature

Travel Time Feature

This is the big new feature really. It’s one that I requested when OS X Mavericks came out back in 2013. The BusyMac support team said they would work on it and now finally BusyCal 3.0 has it. I’ve yet to try it out properly, but if you enter an event and a location for that event BusyCal 3.0 can automatically  determine your travelling time to that event using the integrated support for Location Services and Apple Maps. You can even receive alerts when it’s time to leave as traffic conditions change. It probably isn’t something I’ll use much but it’s a nice feature to have.

Menu bar App

BusyCal 3.0 has  completely redesigned Menu Bar app which now displays a navigable mini-month calendar with coloured dots and bars that provide a visual density map of your availability. A scrolling list of your events and to dos are displayed in the menu along with a 10-day weather forecast. You can click on an event in the menu bar to view its details, and create new events and to dos using natural language. It’s now a competitor to Fantastical.

Menu Bar App

Menu Bar App

Other Features

All of the other features from previous versions of BusyCal are still there:

  • Calendar Lists and Sets
  • Robust support and integration with iCloud, Google Calendar, Office 365 and Exchange, and other CalDAV services
  • Graphics
  • Weather
  • Tags Alarms

Everything essentially works as it did before. BusyCal 3.0 is a great calendar app and still my favourite for the Mac, but I am a little disappointed in the update. £25 for what is essentially a small change in the design of the app and the addition of a travelling time feature and timed to-do’s seems like quite a lot. I realise that the developers need to make money so can’t just release new features for free but there also isn’t really very much new in this version – not much that I can get that excited about anyway.

If you haven’t used it before then it is definitely worth looking at, but if you already have version 2 then the upgrade isn’t life changing by any stretch of the imagination.

BusyCal for iOS

Also new though is BusyCal for iOs with all of the above features in a mobile format. I’ve got it (another £3.99) but it is nice. Similar to the built in Calendars app on iOS, but better and without all the duplicate entries I seem to get in Calendars. I don’t know why I get them, but every event seems to be repeated 4 or 5 times in Calendars and I can’t get rid of them. The fact that BusyCal doesn’t do this is worth the £.99 to me. In fact, this might be the biggest news of the BusyCal updates.


9 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author Patrick Houlihan says:

    “All of the other features from previous versions of BusyCal are still there.” Not quite. For example:

    – BusyCal 2 had a menu/shortcut option to adjust the week view by a single day. That’s gone. (A few users have stated that a shortcut is available to achieve this, but it’s mysteriously not working for some users and it’s not listed in a menu.)

    – BusyCal 2 allowed users to specify times for the beginning and ending of a work day. That option is missing in version 3.

    These are the kinds of advantages that made some of us think of BusyCal as the Mac calendar for power users. Version 3 is less powerful.

    The updated design and the addition of travel time are nice, but BusyCal 3 is merely catching up with Apple’s Calendar regarding these features. The menuapp is good, but not as useful as Fantastical’s. As the review mentions, considering the price, BusyCal 3 is a disappointment.

  2. Avatar forComment Author Adrian Gordon says:

    The 30 day trial offer to use and test BusyCal 3 is a scam. It acutally works for about one week from the time it is installed and then gives you a message that your 30 day trial is up and you either have to buy the program or revert back to BusyCal 2 (if you upgraded). They were dishonest with me when they got me to download the upgrade by promising 30 days to test it or the program does not work as advertised. Either way, why would I want to purchase anything from them?

  3. Avatar forComment Author Mat says:

    I agree with the above comments. The demo really pissed me off. I had the App Store version of BusyCal, and it was wiped off my system with the demo. Why? Probably because they can’t coexist. That’s red flag #1. When I wanted to revert after a very short time, it involved a full delete, reboot, and redownload from the App Store.

    As for the actual app, it’s a font change. Sure, travel time would be nice, but that *really* isn’t a killer feature. If you’re going to do a UI overhaul, why not offer a dark mode, and save my eyes? Why get rid of weekend indicators? And why not show at least a carat or some indicator where appointments aren’t visible that day?

    There are a lot of things BusyCal 2 does very well. There’s nothing that BusyCal 3 does that’s worth money, and that’s a shame. It wouldn’t have taken much, but they clearly were working on their dud of an iOS app. It’s a rudderless ship, and for the first time in 7 years going all the way back to BusySync, I’m disappointed in their offerings.

  4. Avatar forComment Author Richard says:

    Jeżeli ktoś daje mi coś free na 30 dni, a wyłącza to po 7 dniach to jest oszustwo. A ja od oszustów nic nie kupuję.
    Poza tym Busy Cal 3 nie jest warte swojej ceny.

  5. Avatar forComment Author Bee says:

    BusyCal 3 removed the ability to swipe between months or weeks. And moved the navigation to an inconvenient corner. I don’t like these changes. Nor did I like the snotty response I received from a staffer when I wrote to request the return of the swipe feature. I’ve used BusyCal since the first version because it was easier to use than Apple’s mucked up iCal. If BusyCal is going to just replicate the fan boy nonsense, I’ll have to find a different calendar. 🙁

  6. Avatar forComment Author Sam says:

    I want to warn potential customers that BusyCal is a scam! I purchased BusyCal2 about two years ago and now it will no longer work because instead of updating they are making version 2 obsolete forcing customers to buy version 3. I wrote to customer relations to request a refund or solution and was told “there was never a guarantee that BusyCal 2 would work in perpetuity”.. they suggested I use Apple Calendar! This is a fly-by-night scam business. Do they really think people will pay $70 every couple years?

  7. Avatar forComment Author Christina says:


    I cannot express how infuriating my experience has been. Not only is their customer service nonexistent, they cheated me out of my money. As others here have said, their app does not meet Google’s security specifications and they refuse to upgrade the version 2.0 and also refuse to give a free upgrade to the 3.0 version.

    I emailed them explaining my frustration and someone named Kirk said he was the “manager” and refused to give me an upgrade for the $50 program I paid for. When I asked to speak to someone else because he was so short with me and rude, he stated that they would not give me a refund OR a free upgrade.

    Here is the email I received from Kirk when I asked to speak with someone else:
    “There is no one else to talk with. We are not upgrading BusyCal 2, we are sorry that you don’t want to pay to upgrade to BusyCal 3, but we don’t have another route for the product to function w/Google’s changes. You should be able to remove BusyCal 2 and use OS X Calendar if your need for Google syncing is critical and BusyCal 2 no longer functions for you.”

    Seriously, people–don’t support this company. They will take your money and then leave you out in the cold.

    • Avatar forComment Author Alan Cole says:

      Hi Sam / Christina,
      I don’t think posting here will help as I doubt that the BusyCal developers read this site.

      I do think you might be being a bit harsh too. It’s not really the developers of BusyCal’s fault that Google have changed the way that their calendaring system works. Version 2.0 of BusyCal worked perfectly when you bought it and has done so for you over the past couple of years. Things move on though and things change and if you want the latest and greatest software then someone has to work to develop that software. If they don’t charge for the work that they do developing the software and updating it to work with the changes over time then they won’t be able to develop it at all. This would mean there would be no BusyCal 3 (or BusyCal 2for that matter) and therefore no options for you either. At least by charging for it they are giving us an option. You can either:

      1. Use the free built in Calendar within OSX (which does pretty much everything BusyCal does),
      2. stick with your old out of date Version 2 of BusyCal but ditch Google Calendar, or
      3. support the continued development of BusyCal, pay for BusyCal 3 and use that.

      It sounds as though option 3 is really your preferred option but unfortunately it’s also the only one with a cost involved – sometimes though you have to pay for the things that you want.


  8. Avatar forComment Author kevin says:

    I cannot believe how stupid (yes stupid and that’s putting it mildly) developers/vendors are when they get loyal customers who actually buy their product and then they alienate them in one fell swoop. If the story about Kirk is true then Kirk should be sacked. The options they give are way short of how you would treat your customer base (because once you lose them they will not come back). Here’s how it should have been addressed:

    We apologise for the inconvenience, we have no control over how google does XYZ, and we have to amend our software to address how they do XYZ. We understand your frustration:

    1. If you bought busy cal in the last 6 (insert arbitrary value) months you qualify for a free upgrade.
    2. If you have a valid license that is older than that, you get a 50% (include arbitrary %) reduction in the purchase price of busy cal V3.
    3. If you are a new user the product will be discounted by 20% (insert arbitrary %) for the next 6 (insert arbitrary value) months.

    Now no-one can complain, you are helping your loyal customers as best you can and showing to NEW/POTENTIAL customers you are the good guys. HOW HARD IS THAT!!!!!!!

    I don’t get it, the first thing vendors do is take the moral high ground and try to piss off the people who have given them money…WHY??????

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.