Frequently Asked Questions

In German - Auf Deutsch

Concept

Handling

Bugs/limitations

Other


Concept

Apple already has a "Birthdays" calendar in iCal. Why do I need the BirthdayScanner X?

Apple's solution has some serious shortcomings:

  • Apples "Birthdays" calendar is readonly - you cannot modify it.
  • It has no reminders. That means you won't get alerted of upcoming birthdays - the whole point of this program.
  • It works only for Birthdays, but not for other anniversaries.
  • It only works for Apple iCal, whereas BirthdayScanner X works with any calendar program which can read iCalendar files - Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning, Google Calendar etc.

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I do not use iCal, but Outlook/Sunbird/Google Calendar... can I still use the BirthdayScanner X?

Sure. BirthdayScanner X can generate an iCal-compatible calendar file, which can be imported into about every calendar program.

-> How to import anniversaries to Microsoft Outlook
-> How to import anniversaries to Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning

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Does BirthdayScanner X need to be running for me to get anniversary reminders?

No. BirthdayScanner X just needs to run to import the birthdays to iCal. iCal itself does the reminding.

Note (if you recently switched to Mac): iCal reminders work if the iCal application is not running. In the background of MacOSX there is a service always running and reminding you of upcoming events. iCal itself does not have to be active for that to work.

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Can I repeatedly import, e.g. if I change something in Address Book after importing the Birthdays the first time?

Yes. BirthdayScanner X "knows" which anniversaries it already imported. It will only import those anniversaries which are not yet imported, or, if you choose to update existing events, BirthdayScanner X will update anniversaries it already imported.

Note: for this to work, it needs the Creation Mark.

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Handling

I get duplicate events for the same anniversary in iCal.

This should not happen. BirthdayScanner X goes to great lengths to prevent duplicates when re-importing. However, there are situations when duplicates may happen:

  1. If you last imported with a very old (< 2.0.2) version of BirthdayScanner X.
  2. If you import an anniversary to iCal and then change the label of the anniversary in the Address Book (e.g. from Wedding Father and Mother to Wedding Mom and Dad)
  3. If you removed the Creation Mark (created by zencat BirthdayScanner) from the Notes field of the iCal event or if you deactivated the Creation Mark altogether in the BirthdayScanner X Preferences
  4. If importing with an old version of BirthdayScanner X (older than 2.3.2) on MacOSX 10.6 Snow Leopard
  5. If you change the system language between different imports

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How can I remove the anniversaries from my iCal calendar?

See How to remove all BirthdayScanner-generated events from a calendar for details.

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Can I modify the anniversaries manually in iCal after importing?

Yes. There are two things to consider:

  • Leave the Creation Mark "created by zencat BirthdayScanner" alone, if possible - here is why.
  • If the event text contains the $Years placeholder, the anniversaries are not created as event series, but as a number of individual events. This means your changes will only affect that one event and not the whole series.

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BirthdayScanner X creates single events instead of event series. Why is that?

If the event text contains the $Years placeholder (e.g. "Tom Miller (46 years)"), the anniversaries are not created as event series, but as a number of individual events (this is because Apple iCal cannot deal with an event series whose individual events have changing event texts).

If you do not like this, you should not use event title templates using the $Years placeholder:

bsx_years_placeholder

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When I modify the anniversaries manually in iCal it will only change for one year, not all future events.

See BirthdayScanner X creates single events instead of event series. Why is that?

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I do not like the created by zencat Birthdayscanner mark in the Notes of the anniversary in iCal.

This note is needed to prevent accidental data loss when updating the anniversary in iCal. Without this note BirthdayScanner X will refuse to update this anniversary, if you import a second time and something changed.

Of course, if this text bothers you, you may remove it. You even can tell BirthdayScanner X not to create those marks altogether (BirthdayScanner X -> Preferences -> Import Settings -> deactivate Include Creation Mark In Event Notes).

In this case you cannot update existing anniversaries in iCal; if you re-import, new events will be created and you have to delete the old events in iCal manually.

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I'm confused by those Symbols. How do they work?

There are four anniversary types BirthdayScanner X recognizes:

  • Birthdays
  • Wedding Days
  • Name Days
  • Days of Death resp. Memorial Days

Each of these anniversary types will get its own symbol. The symbols can be changed in the event title settings:

Use symbols to spice up the event text settings.

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How does BirthdayScanner X know whether an anniversary is a Birthday/Wedding Day/Memorial Day...?

By examining the name of the anniversaries and looking for keywords.

Those keywords can be changed in the Preferences: Preferences->Anniversary Types:

BirthdayScanner X examines keywords to find out about an anniversary

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The text in iCal is english (“Birthday”), but I want it to be in my mother tongue - День рождения, Geburtstag or 誕生日.

This should not be a problem for most languages, as BirthdayScanner X should translate terms like "Birthday" or "Wedding Day" automatically.

If it is a problem, as a workaround, you can modify the event text and spell out "Birthday" in your language, for example:

bsx_birthday_japanese

Note that this is just a hack - because now, all events will show 誕生日, even if they are not birthdays, but name days or anniversaries.

If it really bugs you, just help me with the localization to your language :)

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Bugs/limitations

The anniversaries in iCal are shown as Busy. I want them shown as Free.

Unfortunately, that is a limitation of Apple's iCal interface. It happens when you import directly to iCal (Import to iCal). It does not happen when you export an iCalendar File (Export as ICS File) and import that one to iCal. So, if it really bugs you, import your anniversaries to iCal via iCalendar file.

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The import is slow.

The BirthdayScanner X uses an official interface Apple offers third-party-programs to access the iCal database. Unfortunately, this interface is very ineffective. It does not allow for speedy bulk updates and insertions.

Nevertheless, a lot of work went into making the import less slow. Especially a lot of care has been taken to avoid unnecessary writes to the iCal database (e.g. if nothing changed, nothing will be imported).

Things you still can do to speed up the import process:

  1. Avoid using event titles with the number of years in them.
  2. If it really is very bad, do not use the import function at all. Instead, export the anniversaries to an ICS file and import them manually to iCal.

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I want to have a message with sound.

This is currently not yet possible. Will be implemented in future versions.

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I exported an ICS file, but I don’t see the number of years in the event texts

Displaying the number of years is currently only supported if you import directly to iCal, not if you save an ICS file.

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In iCal, the birthday events have an additional alarm the day before the birthday, sometime late at night (11:00 PM or so), with a sound.

This should not be a problem anymore as of BirthdayScanner X v 2.4.0 if importing directly to iCal.

If you import into iCal via ICS-File export, you need to deactivate the default alarm in the iCal preferences: "Add default alarm" ("Standarderinnerung" in German).

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I found a bug.

Tell me...

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Other

Is this program Freeware?

Yes (see also: License).

If you want to support this project, feel free to donate.

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I need help. Can you help me?

I can try. Send me an email. I am usually quick to reply, unless I am traveling or too deep into some other work.

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I found a bug, or I have an idea for an improvement. Who do I tell?

Me.

BirthdayScanner X is mostly (now) user-driven; that means, it does all I ever wanted it to do, and all feature requests I am currently putting in come from users like you. Feedback is important. Keep it coming...

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