The calendar is such a basic thing that most of us probably don’t give it a second thought. Even so, numerous calendar applications are out there to help you in various ways. These apps range from being bare bones to having feature sets that rival those of well known commercial calendar systems.

Note: This article is also available as a screenshot gallery.

1: Desktop Calendar

Desktop Calendar (Figure A) is a free but basic calendar app for Windows. As its name implies, this app creates a calendar directly on the Windows desktop–and that’s its best feature. Displaying the calendar on the desktop means it’s always available for viewing, so you don’t have to open an application to see it.

Figure A

If you just need a quick way to look up dates, this app can come in handy–but it doesn’t really do very much. You can add entries to it, but that’s the extent of the application’s functionality.

SEE: Five apps that make Outlook easier to use

2: Active Desktop Calendar

Active Desktop Calendar (Figure B) is similar to Desktop Calendar, in that the calendar is displayed on the Windows Desktop. However, Active Desktop Calendar is more feature-rich. There’s a downside to this added functionality, however; the calendar consumes more space on your desktop and appears more cluttered than Desktop Calendar.

Figure B

Active Desktop Calendar provides views for things like notes, tasks, and contacts. Calendar entries support the use of fully customizable reminders, and you can define an event as being recurring. You can also set an event’s text color and attach an icon to the event.

Active Desktop Calendar sells for $29, but a free trial version is available for download.

3: Efficient Calendar Free

Efficient Calendar Free (Figure C) offers a feature set that rivals those of paid apps. Like many other calendar apps, it provides several views and has many options for entering appointments.

Figure C

This app also includes some elements that are less common, such as an events list, a task list, a search interface, and a recycle bin for calendar entries.

4: Calendar 200X

Calendar 200X (Figure D) is probably my favorite app on this list. It provides a relatively clean and easy-to-use interface without sacrificing functionality. The calendar automatically lists holidays and employs attention-getting icons without being obnoxious about it.

Figure D

I also especially like the fact that this app includes data backup features (and a database repair utility), along with mechanisms for printing the calendar or for saving it as a graphic. The calendar even has its own built-in almanac.

Calendar 200X sells for $20, but a free trial version is available for download.

SEE: How to set up goals in Google Calendar

5: Desktop Calendar and Personal Planner

Desktop Calendar and Personal Planner (Figure E) is one of the more full-featured apps on this list. It can display your schedule in a day view, week view (consisting of a business week or a personal week), or a month view. In addition, you can configure appointments to include reminders and recurrences, and there is a handy button that lets you reschedule an appointment.

Figure E

Perhaps the most unusual thing about this calendar app is that the software includes an integrated web browser (based on Internet Explorer), which provides direct integration with a number of mail services, such as Hotmail and Gmail.

Desktop Calendar and Personal Planner sells for $29.95, but a free trial version is available for download.

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Other apps?

Do you have a go-to calendar app that didn’t make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.