Using Calendar and Reminders in iCloud - dummies

By Barbara Boyd

Now that the Calendar and Reminders apps are available on the Mac and iOS platforms — and remember that they integrate with Microsoft Outlook — you don’t have any excuse to forget an appointment or a birthday. As long as you remember to enter tasks and events in Calendar or Reminders, they’ll take care of alerting you.

And remember, with iCloud, you find all your tasks and events on all your devices.

Each app is designed to manage different, yet complementary, types of data. Some examples are listed here, and an in-depth look at using each app in a specific circumstance is explained.

Use Calendar to keep track and be reminded of events like these:

  • Recurring events, such as monthly book club meetings or weekly tennis lessons

  • Random, one-time events, such as an appointment with your doctor or a bake sale

  • Continuous events — events that last more than one day, like a vacation or business conference

  • Due dates for payments, such as insurance, tuition, or association dues

The last item might seem an odd choice, but Calendar is a great tool for money management. Creating a separate calendar to record payment-due dates gives you a place to write a due date as soon as a bill arrives and offers different ways to see upcoming expenses.

When a bill arrives, go to Calendar and create an event for the due date. Use the event Name field to add pertinent information — like how much the bill is — or use the Notes field. Set alerts for a few days before the bill is due so the check is put in the mail, or you make an online payment, on time. Even if you use an automatic bill-paying service, an alert can remind you to enter the amount in your account register.

Enter the information once, and then use the Repeat field to instruct Calendar to automatically create future events for a repeating payment, such as a car insurance premium due every six months.


Use the Custom option on your computer to set an event to repeat yearly in more than one month, such as once per year in March and September. And set an end date for repeating events to indicate when the payments will be finished: for example, four years for a recurring car loan payment, or ten years when a life insurance policy expires.


After the due dates are entered in Calendar, choose the Year view and deselect all the calendars except Payments. Every date that a payment is due is highlighted and also on dates that seem darker yellow (like October 14) where two payments are due. Yikes!


On your iOS device, deselect all but the Payments calendar and then choose List view to see a list of upcoming due dates.


Reminders is a great task management tool for projects or just daily to-do’s. Here are some examples:

  • Task lists for specific projects or events

  • Generic to-do lists

  • Shopping and gift idea lists tied to an event, such as a birthday or holiday

For example, a bake sale fundraiser is scheduled for a specific day, but there are tasks to be done in preparation for it. Post the bake sale as an event on Calendar and then create a to-do list in Reminders with the deadlines for the various planning tasks.


Here are a few tips to make Reminders even more effective at helping you keep your tasks on track:

  • To see your tasks in a certain order, tap the Edit button on your iOS device and drag the reorder buttons to change the sequence of the tasks in the list. On your computer, click and drag the item itself to a new position.


  • Alerts can remind you to do something at the moment it sounds, like setting up the tables for your bake sale the day before the event.

  • Alerts are also handy as a “must be done by” reminder. You might work on identifying bakers for a week or so and then use the alert to remind you that they must all be identified by the time the alert sounds.

  • Alerts can be set to sound once per day, reminding you to call one potential baker on your coffee break each day at 3:30, for example.

  • If you check something off your list before the alert date and time, the alert is cancelled and won’t sound.

  • If you turn on Location Services for Reminders (iPhone and iPads with cellular data only), you can also set up Reminders to give you an alert when you leave or arrive at a location, so you could make sure you hear an alert when you enter the bank on September 21 reminding you to get ones, fives, and quarters to make change for the bake sale.

  • Use priority settings to make items stand out in the list.

Birthdays and anniversaries set in Contacts and show up automatically in Calendar. Alerts for these recurring events are set in Contacts, too.