How to Show Holidays in the Calendar App for Mac OS X

Mar 4, 2014 - 17 Comments

Calendar app icon With so many holidays scattered throughout the year, it’s easy to lose track of when is what, and on which day the next falls. Fortunately, the Mac Calendar app makes it simple to toggle the display of all holidays directly in the Calendar app, so you’ll never lose track over what date Palm Sunday, Earth Day, Thanksgiving, or Cinco De Mayo (ok that one’s easy) is, whether it’s this year or the next.

Sure, for most us, holidays in the USA have no particular impact on our employment status for that given day, but they can still be helpful to know for celebratory reasons or planning. At the very least, they make an important addition to our calendars when defining a schedule around the dates, even if it’s just a trip to the DMV to renew a license, or for sending out event invites.

How to Show Major Holidays on the Mac Calendar

Showing major holidays in the Calendar app of OS X is remarkably simple, though most users will find the setting is not enabled by default on their Macs:

  1. Open the Calendars app and pull down the Calendar menu to select “Preferences”
  2. Under the ‘General’ tab check the box for “Show Holidays Calendar”
  3. Close out of Preferences and go back to the Calendar to see the holidays

The Holidays will immediately be visible in the Mac Calendar. Technically they appear within their own unique calendar, labeled as “US Holidays”, so they won’t muck up any existing calendars that you’ve made for work, home, school, or personal. Because the dates are contained within a separate calendar, you can also toggle them off quickly from the Calendar apps sidebar if their visibility is interfering with anything.

If you can’t see them immediately, flip to a month view where there’s a notable amount of special days to see them labeled on the specific dates, April is a good example:

Calendar holidays in Mac OS X

Seen under the “Year” view, the holidays are scattered throughout the year as yellow highlights on the annual calendar:

Show Holidays in the Calendar app of Mac OS X

While the screen shot demonstrates US-defined holidays, the feature should work with all other countries too.

If you’re big on celebrating and recognizing birthdays, there is also a “Show Birthdays” setting in the Calendar app preferences directly above the Holiday toggle, but keep in mind that the Holiday dates are imported from Apple directly depending on your country settings, whereas the birthday setting requires user input per specific details to be entered into your address book for each specific person.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

17 Comments

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  1. Christian says:

    Yet this feature does not exist in iOS, so how do you add holidays to our iPhones without doing it ourselves?

  2. Toby says:

    In Mountain Lion, I don’t seem to have this feature. Under Preferences->General I have tick boxes for “Show Event Times” and “Show Birthdays Calendar”.

  3. Mike says:

    This feature not in Lion. It would be helpful to specify in this article what operating systems this feature is applicable to, or if there is a workaround for an older OS if the feature is not available or in a different location.

    • ph says:

      Oh dear. You should upgrade from Lion to Mountain Lion or Mavericks. Lion is a broken mess.

      • Toby says:

        I don’t have it in Mountain Lion, either. Also, his equipment may prevent him from upgrading further, as you already know.

    • Mike says:

      That’s correct, I have a 2008 MacBook and can’t upgrade to Mohntain Lion or Mavericks because of my system specs. Although it may be “a broken mess” it’s better than paying $1,000+ on a computer I don’t actually need yet.

  4. Luke says:

    In the year view, the yellow color just means that you have only few things for that day on the calendar. It doesn’t mean it’s a holiday. The more appointments you add, the color gets darker and changes to red.

  5. Peter says:

    You can import the Holiday Calendar to the iPhone and iPad by doing this:

    • Right-click on the “US Holidays” item in the sidebar and choose Get Info

    • Switch the Location to ‘iCloud’ and choose “OK”

    This will sync it over to iCloud, going to your iOS devices and other Macs.

    Also you can take the “Subscribed to:” URL from that Get Info panel and subscribe to it directly in IOS Calendar app as well.

    • Bruce says:

      I also have Mountain Lion and there is no holidays pref, as noted. Also I don’t understand what this comment means:
      Right-click on the “US Holidays” item in the sidebar and choose Get Info, as I see no such item.

  6. Bernard Ashton says:

    Not working for UK. I have confirmed that it’s available for France, Germany and the US? I’m on 10.9.2. Believe it or not, the UK has different public holidays than the US.

  7. Ohfo says:

    As per Bernard’s comment, not seeing anything for the UK unfortunately!

  8. LensKaraoke says:

    I’m running OS X 10.9.2 and the option to ‘Show Holiday Calendar’ is there and it was checked but no holidays show up!!!

  9. Mike Cinnamond says:

    UK holidays are not available. Clicking on the option “Show Holiday Calendar” in OSX Mavericks does nothing. However, if you go to https://www.gov.uk/bank-holiday and select your region within the UK (i.e. England & Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland), you can download an ICS file which will insert the UK regional bank holidays into your calendar. I would suggest that you choose to put these in a separate calendar otherwise the bank holidays will always appear (i.e. you can’t turn them off – inserting them into a custom calendar gives you the option of deselecting them.

  10. Cb says:

    The “Show Holiday Calendar” is not an option on my desktop with 10.6.8

    I found the US Holiday Calendar at this Apple link and easily installed it:

    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/calendars/index5.html

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