How to Add a Drop-Down Calendar to the macOS Menu Bar Clock

Windows users can click the clock on the taskbar to see a calendar, which is perfect if you need to know what day of the week June 17th is. Macs don’t offer this feature, at least not out-of-the-box. But there are programs that can add one.

Our favorite free option is a program called Itsycal. It’s lightweight, shows your Calendar appointments, and even supports keyboard shortcuts for quick browsing. Here’s how to set it up, and even customize it to replace the clock on your menu bar.

Getting Started With Itsycal

Head to the itsycal homepage and download the application. It comes in a ZIP file which you can unarchive by clicking. Drag the application to your Applications folder.

Launch the application and you’ll see a calendar icon in your menu bar. Click this to bring up a tiny calendar popup.

Appointments are shown below the calendar, and you can click any day to see its appointments. Don’t like using the mouse? You can browse using the keyboard: “J” and “K” browse up and down, while “H” and “L” browse left and right. You can also use the arrow keys: Left and Right jump forward a month, while Up and Down jump between years.

At the bottom of the pop-up window is an icon that looks like a gear. Click to to access the preferences.

From here you can decide whether Itsycal will start when your Mac boots up, define which day is the first of the week, and which of your calendars you’d like to see appointments from.

The “Appearance” tab lets you configure a few more things. You can use the outline icon if you want something less dark. You can also customize the icon, adding things like the month or the day of the week to it. You can even check particular days of the week to be highlighted, as seen above: Sunday and Saturday are both red, making it easy to see the weekend days at a glance.

You can also add a datetime pattern…more on that later.

Optional: Replacing the Clock With Itsycal

Itsycal is great, but it doesn’t quite give you want Windows offers—that is, you can’t click the current time to see a calendar. If you want to replace your clock entirely with Itsycal, you can do that. First, let’s remove the default Mac clock. Click it, then click “Open Time & Date Preferences.”

In the window that opens, uncheck “Show date and time in the menu bar.”

Now the clock is gone! Head back to the Itsycal Appearance preferences. Remember the dateline pattern? It’s time to use that.

This box allows you to use a specialized code to see things like the date and time. This site explains the code. If you just want something quick to paste there, h:mm a will give you just the time, while E, MMM d h:mm a will give you the date and time.

Alternatives to Itsycal

Itsycal is great, but It isn’t the only option out there. Day0 is nice, and supports transparency, but doesn’t integrate with the macOS Calendar.

If you want a more advanced option, Fantastical 2 is very good. This full replacement for the calendar on your Mac offers a great menu bar calendar with support for your Calendar and your Reminders.

Both of these are great options, but Itsycal is the most powerful free option—and who doesn’t love free?

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.