iCal, the free calendar application in OS X, has a wealth of options for managing and tracking your day-to-day activities. One of iCal’s most useful features is the ability to set up alarms for specific events in your schedule.

These alarms can take many forms, from message and sound alerts to playing music files or sending yourself a reminder email. If you rely heavily on iCal for keeping track of your appointments, it’s worth getting into the habit of using the alarm feature regularly.

1.) Click on the iCal icon in your Dock to launch the application. You’ll be presented with a screen like this:

iCal Interface in OS X.png

2.) As you can see, we presently have no activities scheduled for this week. To create an alarm, we need to have a corresponding event in our calendar. Create one by Ctrl-Clicking (or Right Click if using a two button mouse) and selecting New Event:

Creating New Event in iCal.png

3.) Double-Click on the new event to open its properties window. Here we can set the event name, time, repeats and which calendar to attach it to, amongst other options:

Setting Event Properties in iCal.png

4.) Enter a name for the event, then click on the drop-down Alarm menu:

The Event Alarm Menu in iCal.png

5.) For this alarm, we’re going to choose to have an email sent to our inbox. This is especially useful for when you are away from your computer during the day. We’ve also set the alarm email to arrive 15 minutes before the required time:

Setting Email Alarm in iCal.png

6.) You can set multiple alarms for the same event. In this screenshot, we’ve added a Message with Sound to come up on our Mac’s screen a minute before the event time:

Setting Message Alarm in iCal.png

7.) You can even set specific files to open and act as your alarm, such as a music file from your iTunes collection:

Setting File Alarm in iCal.png

When you have set up your new alarm to your requirements, click Done to close the properties window.

Setting Alarms in iCal is easy yet surprisingly flexible, and can be a great help in organizing your day whether you are in front of your Mac or on the go.