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Syncing iCal Birthdays to Your iPhone

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One of the perplexing limitations about MobileMe is its inability to sync birthdays in iCal to the iPhone and iPod touch. As you may already know, iCal can take birthdays from Address Book and add them into a special “Birthdays” calendar, which is really a subscription calendar.


But while the latest updates to MobileMe now allow for the syncing of subscription calendars from your Mac to MobileMe, their events are not pushed to iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s (s aapl) explanation is this:

When syncing subscribed calendars to MobileMe, the calendar information and settings for the calendar is synced, but all of the downloaded events are not. This is done to help streamline the syncing process with MobileMe, as it prevents syncing redundant information to other computers with an Internet connection.


To get around this limitation, you can disable over-the-air syncing, and sync Calendar events via iTunes instead. But that defeats the purpose of paying for MobileMe’s push abilities. The other way is to export the Birthdays calendar that iCal has created and re-import it back into iCal as local calendar events. These birthdays and anniversary events will then be synced with MobileMe and, subsequently, pushed to the iPhone Calendar app. The problem is, you will have to do that every time you add a birthday to a contact in the Address Book.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that there is finally a solution that requires little to no effort on your part.

Dates to iCal 2 is a small application for OS X Leopard that reads birthdays and anniversaries from Address Book and writes them as regular calendar events into iCal. It does this automatically in the background; set it once and forget about it.


In setting up Dates to iCal 2, you can customize in various ways how it should create events.


You can choose to add either birthdays or anniversaries, or both, and specify only a certain group of contacts.


You can customize the way event titles will be written, such as adding the age of a contact to his or her birthday event. To me, this feature alone is worth the price of the application.

And one very powerful aspect of Dates to iCal 2 is the many ways it can remind you of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. You can set up to five alarms for an event, useful if you want, say, to be reminded each of the five days leading up to a birthday or anniversary. It can even send a reminder email to any of the email addresses in the Me card in your Mac.


Dates to iCal 2 costs £3 (approximately USD $4.50) for a single license. Until Apple (s aapl) improves MobileMe, I highly recommend this well-designed and useful gem.

23 Responses to “Syncing iCal Birthdays to Your iPhone”

  1. Courtney Taylor

    Just installed this app and it’s fantastic. I don’t know how I haven’t learned about it sooner. I have wanted this ever since switching to the Mac. Works great!

  2. O.K,

    I have found the cause of the birthday dates jumping 1 day randomly.

    It happens whenever the phone syncs. It will change the date in both the iPhone profile and in windows mail contacts.

    I am just a user not a coder so hopefully Apple can sort it out as all the dates I have set up in my contacts a no longer correct.

    Test a couple of dates and sync with your contacts before loading too many in as it will frustrate you have to reload once apple have this bug fixed.


  3. I have loaded birthdays into Windows mail contacts.

    Over time, the dates in my synced iPhone contacts for these birthdays move out slowly a day at a time.

    So, given the current set up, my wife is going to get her pressy a couple of days late. I have confirmed the dates are set correctly in windows contacts.

    I have Vista using the basic Windows mail with contacts package.

  4. Patrik

    If I may offer another solution:

    Right click your birthdays calendar and publish the calendar to mobile me. You will get two links to your newly published calendar – use the second one. On the iPhone you can now add a calendar subscription using this link.


  5. Bill Warren

    Benno, If you 1) publish the birthdays calendar from iCal, then 2) send a publish email to your own email address (one the iPhone checks), then 3) click the link in the email on the phone. It should open iCal on the phone and download the calendar.

    You can confirm by going to the calendars main screen. It should have two subcategories now, “ (MobileMe)” and “Subscribed”. I really needed to have US Holidays and my BIrthdays calendar on my phone and am very glad it finally works.

    I can’t find the Apple support document that I found on this, but the following is helpful (though subscribing via Safari rather than clicking the link in an email)

    • Bill, thanks for posting this, it’s great, works and as a result of reading it I learnt that you can have subscribed info on your iphone. Loving my apple h/w & s/w more and more.

  6. Bill Warren

    FYI – this is fixed in iPhone OS 3.0. You can subscribe to published calendars in iCal on iPhone 3.0, so just publish your b-days calendar and subscribe to it to see the events in-line with your mobile me synced calendars

    • The only problem I’ve found with using the published calendars on iPhone 3.x is that not all of my birthdays show up on the iPhone. The culprit seems to be older people (I noticed it for my peeps born in the 1920s). Although they show up in iCal and the MobileMe Calendar, they don’t make it to the iPhone’s calendar for some reason. Not 100% reliable, unfortunately.

  7. Micah Wangerin

    Thank you for this information – I have been bummed out trying to figure out how to get my bdays into iCal and on my iPhone…for less than a large latte I’m all set.

  8. I simply published my subscribed birthday calendar to Mobile Me. I then created a web widget that opens Safari when I need to access a subscribed calendar. I’ve been using this method for months and is simple to set up and just plain works.

  9. Thanks for the post!!! I’ve been waiting for a transparent / effort-free solution to the Birthday issue since I got my iPhone.
    I can’t understand why they didn’t do this from scratch.
    Regards from Argentina