A Call to Alarms: Why We Need Persistent Calendar and Reminder Notifications

Well, I think so. Using a browser on my Mac, I visit a web site that requires two factor authentication (2FA) and will only deliver by SMS. (The intelligence of this decision is not part of this discussion, and while I would be happy to read comments, such would be even further off-topic.) By having the text message appear on the computer, I can copy and paste the number string.

Even replying to a message is better accomplished, for me, using a real keyboard.


Mmm, yeah. Agree with the premise of the article.

For myself, what is wanted is not alarms as such, though those would be useful. What I want is a much stronger barrier to dismissing notification, a kind of “sticky” notification, if you like. It would reappear on the lock screen until a modal dialog acknowledged action was taken (and this would sync to other devices). It might, optionally, persist as a banner, even across device locks. Ideally, there would be a simple way to put such stickies onto the device by voice, as a simple reminder mechanism.

Thanks for the suggestion of the Due app; looks genuinely wonderful.

But it does indeed point to a failure to make this sort of notification a feature of the OS. Also the failure to make notifications consistent, in general, between Reminders, Calendar, Clock alarms, and timers, phone/FaceTime calls, and Messages. It seems to me that Apple could do worse than to generalise all of these modalities, and give app developers stronger control over actions for notifications, like snoozing, persisting, repeating, and so on. We perhaps ask too much, considering.

Don’t bother controlling notifications for apps; simply remove the app. Your life will magically improve. :) Too often we forget what this technology stuff is here to help us do. It was, I suggest, a bad day when Apple brought Notification Centre to macOS.

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I found the alarm system in Tiny Timer works the best for me. It dings, then several seconds later, dings, then several seconds later, dings, untill you turn it off. This allows me to finish what I’m doing without huge distraction (like a continuous alarm) but lets the notification continue until I am ready to do whatever the reminder tells me to do at that time. I, too, have problems with the calendar reminder. Outlook has a similar reminder on Windows to Tiny Timer. Their theory is that you can continually delay (5 min, 10 min, 1 day, 2 day, 1 week, etc) until you dismiss. I find this one also works for me. Outlook notification in the past were a hot mess.

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Elementary Mr, Apple!

There is no way you would respond to alarms for notifications. If you use an Apple Watch, have it ping you to take a break hourly. That is easy to accomplish with the meditation app. Check you calendar at the end of the break. Reminders are time wasters. Putting everything on your calendar with a time and duration helps you schedule better and allow time to pay attention to the important people in your life. Unless you are very unusual, your ability to work efficiently goes down after an hour of sitting still. Blood pools in the legs. Your brain suffers. You eyes weaken. You may think you are doing great for three hours of constant work sitting, but that is not the case. You might like to read the Relaxation Revolution by the late Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Harvard who developed the inversion of fight-or-flight.

This was one of the hardest parts for me with transitioning from Android to iOS - Android notifications were a lot better at hanging around in the task bar up top, and I wouldn’t dismiss them until I was done with them. Notifications on iOS just disappear and it’s really easy for them to be out of sight, out of mind.


Alexa already does this. I can verbally label any reminder as a repeating reminder and have it repeat every hour until I say “Done” or tap the Done button that pops up on any Echo Show to which you have assigned the reminder. It is persistent but not annoying.

Adam’s right. Calendar alerts are broken. I have scheduled repeating alarms (Clock app) for my important meetings, manually duplicating my calendar alarms. I also have a HomeKit-controlled video conferencing light scheduled to go on before those regualr meetings, which works surprisingly well. But I had an important meeting Friday at a non-regular time that I missed, despite being in the presence of FOUR devices with my apple id. I have turned on persistant notifications from calendar so I have to dismiss them. As far as I can tell, they didn’t appear for that meeting. What does appear reliably is every time my spouse schedules or reschedules a future event, I get an immediate, persistent, notification. Help! (Due app sounds great but would need to automatically notify calendar events, including accepted meetings as they come in. I didn’t see any mention of that)


I am happy with how BusyCal implements Event and Task reminders/alarms. They are persistent enough for me and I can easily create extras, say for upcoming important events where I’ll create a week, 2 days and 2 hours ahead alerts, so that if I miss something it’s my own damn fault. LOL My wife and I sync our calendars/reminders via iCloud, which supplements the analog Frida Kahlo kitchen calendar that she favros.

BusyCal was expensive at $50 when I got a license many years ago but it’s been worth every penny. The company has switched to a 40% discount 18 month “non-subscription” system for app updates. But users aren’t required to renew nor penalized for waiting to do so after the plan expires. I haven’t seen a new feature that I couldn’t live without in eons. . . Most are in the “meh” category, so as long as the app keeps working with my current OS versions, I don’t renew.

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Specific to medication reminders, I use Medsafe. Every other medication reminders I have used just sent one alert and maybe a snooze but I often ended up missing it. Medisafe sends a normal reminder alert at the time you set with Take and snooze. Snooze send another reminder in 15 or 30 mins (not sure which). If you ignore snooze, then at the next reminder it sends a Critical Alert to both my watch and phone which overrides the Silent setting. I always have my watch and phone on Silent. The only other thing I know of on my apps that sends Critical Alerts is Tornado warnings. Then if if I STILL ignore the app, the Critical Alerts stays on the top of the list of Lock Screen notifications. Gotta say, with all that, I never miss my meds!

Medsafe is focused towards meds and you can get as granular as entering the name, shape and color of the medication. I have it set to simply “morning meds”. There’s no reason you couldn’t use it for any alarm reminder situation. C


I’ve tried using Due for a while now, and I find it’s useful for some things, when yes, I just have to do whatever it is at the appropriate time. However, for a lot of other reminders where I just need a nudge, the constant nagging gets old fast. Obviously, I could (and do) continue to use Reminders for such things, but I’m not loving the extra work of having to think about where I create different kinds of reminders.

And I don’t think about creating separate Due reminders for calendar events. I even almost missed an appointment last week because of not doing that, but an extra step in another app is just not going to happen reliably.

So I’m glad it’s working for other people, but it’s not life-changing for me.

I’ll stick with my original request—we need an alarm notification type that works everywhere.


There is the analog way:

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BusyCal for Mac has a decent modal alert for both events and reminders:

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Oh, interesting! I haven’t used BusyCal in quite a few years, but I’ll have to check it out again.

Does the modal alert continue to play a sound or whatever until you interact with it?

No, it just beeps once with the system beep you choose (so I suppose you could create/install a long/loud one). But it does stay wherever you have put it on the screen until you snooze or dismiss it.

So a little better, if I can pick the sound, but still not what I’m looking for.

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The devs are reasonably responsive; perhaps they’d add it.

BusyCal does have a “snooze” feature which I prefer to having it interrupt me until I deal with it. The snooze time period is easily set/changed to whatever amount of time you want.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found the BusyCal developers to be all that responsive. . . Over the years I’ve asked for a Finder Menu Bar icon to easily access BusyContacts. Every time I’ve been told no or I receive no response at all. How difficult is it to add such a common feature?

The only option I’ve found is Flexbits’ Cardhop which replaced a no longer supported third-party app. I have a grandfathered “classic license” for Cardhop so I do not pay a subscription fee to use it.

@ace I find that Due is absolutely the only thing I have found that works when I ABSOLUTELY cannot miss an appointment or action. Its relentless persistence, undeniable unless you lie to it (and therefore yourself) by marking something done when It’s not DONE, is unmatched by anything else I have found. The interface for creating and modifying entries is also superb as is the fact that shortcuts work to create entries with Siri effectively.

So, critical hard deadlines with no wiggle room: Due. Bills that must be paid or fees/interest incurred: Due. Meds that I (or my dog!) must take or jeopardize our health: Due. Certain birthdays: Due.

Anything less vital is fine in calendar or reminders or take your pick.

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