Quick iCal Tip: Set Your Default Calendar

Hints HOWTOs

I have been going crazy trying to figure out why all my incoming meeting.ics files were going to my QuickBooks calendar (I have several calendars) and not another one. There had to be a setting somewhere, right? I could not find it, but I did discover how to inadvertently set it: drag the calendar you want to use as the default to the top (same goes with Mail.app with setting the default account).

33 thoughts on “Quick iCal Tip: Set Your Default Calendar”

  1. Jeremy Brooks

    nice tip, thanks. This also works when you have a google calendar sync’d in iCal. That is, you can make the google cal the default in iCal. …To get this done, I had to delete my Home and Work calendars in the Mac. No big deal for me since I wasn’t using them.

    • Boris

      Actually, you don’t have to delete the calendars “on my mac”. You only need to click on the arrow in front of that group so that those calendars are not visible, and google calendar will then get highlighted and be your default.

      • O.J.

        Wow – THANK YOU! That is the best tip ever. I was going crazy trying to fix this and it never occurred to me to close the arrows. Ical kept adding new events to a local system event calendar that I don’t sync and now I’m back in business. Thanks Boris.

          • Boudewijn

            For me it didn’t work, I had unchecked Work and Home, but in invitation of a colleague immediately reopened my Work calendar….. What did I do wrong?

  2. Cliff

    Same problem but my ical will not let me move/drag my default calendar to the top. I have several calendars that are imported; e.g. my gmail account with calendar. I cannot put a non-ical calendar above the ical calendar at the top: the group name for the calendar is “on my mac”.

    It drives me crazy to have my ics requests save to a calendar that is not the one I need.

    To make matters worse — when I edit the event I cannot change the calendar to the one I want. It only lets me use calendars in the group “on my mac” and none others.

    This is very aggravating.

      • andrew

        hi I have the same problem – I cannot drag to the top either. I use an exchange account and the “on my mac” cal trumps everything and I cannot save it to exchange. if I accept the event on my iphone where exchange is my default then no problem.

        This is SO FRUSTRATING… the closing the arrow thing doesn’t work either. Where did you guys come up with these ideas?

        • Gav

          Make sure the calendar list is shown (click view->show calendar list). Now drag the title of the calendar group, NOT the calendar name itself; So drag the “iCloud” or “Google” title (not the “work”/”home”/etc calendars name).

    • Jim

      I had this same problem… My workaround was to uncheck all the calendars I didn’t want to drag… then drag the one I needed to the desired spot…. then recheck to calendars I unchecked.

    • Pam

      If you go into the preferences under iCal and click on the General tab, you can set the default calendar to whatever you want it to be in the drop down next to “Default Calendar:”

  3. Brandon

    I have Outlook for Mac 2011 and am trying to have iCal as my default calendar (but keep Outlook as my default email). All ics files go directly to my Outlook calendar. Help!

  4. Julio Romo

    I’ve just discovered the solution as I was having the same issue.

    First download the .ics file (for the calendar), then right click and select ‘Get Info’ – that opens a little window with all the details about that calendar appointment. At the bottom you will see, ‘Open With’ and beneath that a scroll with the apps that can open that. Select ‘iCal’ and then press ‘Change All’ which is below. All done!!

    • Art

      When I receive the ics file it automatically tries to open Outlook. I would like to have it go to iCal. I’ve read your description but I can find any such choices at the bottom of the details box in Lion. Is this an issue with Lion or am I looking in the wrong place?


  5. Adam

    You can delete a calendar. Uncheck it (after making sure it doesn’t contain anything you need to keep), highlight it, then go to the Edit menu in the menubar and Delete it.

  6. Philip Barclay

    Very useful reply from Julio Romo

    As a new MacBook Pro users (48 hrs and counting!), I would just add that you first need to open the Downloads Folder to bring up a list of all of the Downloads. This then shows the .ics file as an Outlook Calendar file under the “Kind” column. After following Julio’s instructions, it now shows as an iCal file.

    Hope this is not too basic for experienced Mac users but as a PC user of almost 20 years, I am just finding my way around the Mac OS!

    • Matt

      This doesn’t work for me – I was hoping it would.

      This seems to only set the calendar that new entries are placed in.

  7. Chris Moore

    I have very similar problems when applying a .ics to my ical. It will put it into ical, but not to my gmail account, it automatically applies to either work or home, even if I uncheck them. If I right click on it w/in the calendar, and choose calendar, indeed a drop down box appears, but the only choices are home or work, not gcal. This is so frustrating, as I need these to sync w/my gcal. Any items which are in my ical under either the home or work option will not sync up to gcal. Any help appreciated!

  8. Megan Drake

    Could someone recommend a good way to get a good, quick introduction to iCal? I am a brand new, first time Mac user and have just sort of jumped feet first in to trying to organize and effective use iCal with my Mac and iPhone. HELP!

    Thanks so much, in advance!

  9. Matt

    As an extension to this, does anyone know of a way to have meetings get placed in different folders based on who sent them ?

    e.g. Meetings from xyz@abc.com should get placed in calendar ABC and meetings from anywhere else should go to calendar EVERYTHING ELSE.

  10. Gyp the Cat

    Thanks for the help. Apple have not made it intuitive as to how to change your calendars on your Mac, iPad and iPhone was easy, Mac, not.

  11. maggie

    when i click on ical preferences, there’s no option for setting the default calendar. every time i go to enter an appt. from the website where they’re booked, ical opens choose new calendar, and doesn’t give me the option of choosing one the zillion it’s already created, or just the defaults, work or home, which is all i want. i don’t know how to get rid of, or stop creating, all these extra calendars. anyone?

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