Launch Files & Applications on a Scheduled Date with Calendar for Mac OS X
If you’ve ever wished you could schedule the opening of a specific file, or set an application to launch on a specific date, either on a one off basis or on a recurring scheduled event, you can actually do both right in Mac OS X with the help of none other than the default Calendar app. This is an astonishingly useful feature that is largely unknown, but it’s extremely easy to use. We’ll cover how to launch specific files on a schedule, or just an application. Just like a standard alert or event, you can create repeat schedules with these as well. If you’ve ever created a generic event or Reminder in OS X before, this is quite similar.
Open a File on a Specific Scheduled Date
- Open Calendar in Mac OS X and create a new event, either by clicking the [+] plus button or by double-clicking on any date
- Pull down the menu next to “Alert” and choose “Open File”
- Directly under the alert menu, pull down the next menu and choose “Other…”, then use the file browser to select the file you want to open on a schedule
- Choose “Done” when finished
Use the “Repeat” function to set the file to consistently relaunch on the given date and time provided. These can be standard, or custom repeating schedules like every last Friday of the month. The repeat feature is an excellent additional trick for repetitive tasks that use the same file, like a weekly or monthly earnings report, tax document, expense sheet, or whatever else requires regular use on a scheduled basis.
Once the date arrives, the selected file will launch automatically in the default application at the date and time specified in Calendar as the alert. Because it uses the default app, you would have to change the file-app association to adjust which app the file opens in, or just go the route of having the alert launch an application directly instead.
Open an Application on a Scheduled Date
This is more or less the same as the above trick, but you’ll select an app instead:
- From Calendar in OS X, create a new event, and pull down the “Alert” menu
- Choose “Other…” then locate the application to launch and choose “Select”, the application can be in the primary /Applications/ folder or elsewhere, anything with a .app will work
- Click “Done” to set the scheduled app launch
Keep in mind that with OS X’s newer ability to restore saved windows, documents, and application states, that just setting an application to launch will open the app with all documents last used available. That will happen unless the feature has been disabled manually. This is different than using the “Open File” trick outlined above, which will open the specified file instead.
These scheduled events will sync with iCloud to other Macs and iOS devices, and though the iOS devices will get an alert on those days if one has been set, the app-opening ability will only work on the OS X side of things as iOS doesn’t (yet) have a similar functionality built into it’s alerts. Interestingly, iOS does have the ability to create the custom repeat Reminders through Siri though, suggesting it wouldn’t be terribly difficult for Apple to include this very useful ability in iOS down the road if they chose to.
Heads up to CultOfMac for finding this excellent trick