Reminder Issues in iCal with Google Calendar

I’ve been using Fantastical on my Mac and iPhone as my default Calendar application these days and it’s been wonderful, or should I say fantastical. Anyway, I recently hit into a weird issue that I initially thought was a bug in Fantastical, but upon further investigation appears to be a bigger issue between Google Calendar and Mac’s Calendar app (previously known and will be referred later in this article as iCal).

I noticed whenever I tried changing reminders in Fantastical, despite the change appearing to be successful, if I reopen the event, the reminders are reverted. Not only that, when I create a new event in Fantastical, it always uses the default reminders, despite the default being no reminders. Even when I add a reminder before creating the event, my reminder gets removed and the defaults are used.

I tried to create a simple event in iCal and was able to set the reminder that I wanted. So I contacted @flexbits (maker of Fantastical) on Twitter and they basically told me the reminder settings get overridden by Google.

So I did some more testing and here’s what I actually found:

  1. In iCal, you can set the reminder you want when creating the event, but once the event is created, you can’t change the reminders anymore. It’ll appear that any reminder you modify, add, or remove has succeeded, but if you open up the event details again, you’ll find the reminder settings have been reverted to what it was previously.
  2. Despite the reminder settings being reverted in iCal, Google Calendar actually shows the reminder changes that you’ve made. So there appears to be some sync issue between iCal and Google Calendar where iCal can push up reminder changes, but can’t pull those changes down. Not sure if the bug lies in Google’s implementation or iCal’s implementation.

Since Fanstaical always uses the default reminders, it leads me to think that creating an event is a multi-step process in Fantastical, where adding the reminders is a latter step, therefore it gets ignored.

Don’t have a solution here. Just wanted to share my findings. Seems like if you want to use Google Calendar and not use the default reminders, your best bet is to create the events in iCal and set the reminders you want.

How to Change the Default Alert Time for Birthdays on iCal for Mac OSX Lion

When I switched over to iCal from Outlook, I was happy to find that they also had a birthday calendar. However the alert time was defaulting to 8:00 am and I like my reminders going off at 12:00 am. I tried looking for a setting to change it, but there wasn’t anything obvious inside preferences. The only option was to enable or disable “Show Birthdays calendar”.

After looking around a bit more, I noticed I had my Day starts at set to 8am, which felt too much to be a coincidence. I changed the starting time to Midnight, but my birthdays’ alert time didn’t get updated. I wondered if it would only apply to new birthdays that get added.

Then I tried disabling and re-enabling to show birthdays and that updated all my birthday reminders to have an alert time of 12am. Sweet!


  1. Open iCal and go to preferences (⌘+,)
  2. Change “Day starts at:” to time you want your birthday alerts to go off
  3. Uncheck and recheck “Show Birthdays calendar”

iCal Preferences

All your birthday reminders should now have the new alert time. 🙂

Technically at this point, you might be able to change your day start time back and it wouldn’t affect your existing birthday alert times, but you’ll have to test that yourself.