How I use iCal/iTunes as an easy alarm clock, step by step setup.

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by StratoMAC, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. StratoMAC macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR, USA
    In my quest to avoid using third party software, I have done a lot of searching in both MacForums and elsewhere for suggestions on how to use iCal/iTunes as an alarm clock. I have had some struggles, but through experimentation and compilation of various tips I've come across, I am now able to wake on days that I want to with minimal effort/steps required. If you want to wake consistently at the same time on the same days each week, there is VERY little work involved once you set up the alarm for the first time. Since everyone here has always been so helpful with me since I bought my MacBook (newbie), I thought I'd share what I've learned with you guys this time! Yes, I've typed A LOT, but that's just because I'm really wordy at explaining things. :D Of course, if anyone has suggestions to improve this process, please share...

    In an alarm, here is what I personally want. I work M, T, W each week and need to wake at 6 a.m. I want the ability to set an iCal alarm once and then never have to deal with it again...just have it automatically do its thing and wake me to a song of my choice each M, T, W at 6 a.m. I got pretty close to this by doing the following:

    1) open iCal, in "week" view, go to the first day for which you want to set the alarm, double click to open new event, then edit event.

    2) Edit the event as follows:
    a) type in a title for the alarm
    b) edit "from" date/time to the day you want to wake up and ONE MINUTE AFTER the time you really want to awaken (more on this later)
    c) edit "repeat" to "Custom" and select the days you want to wake up
    d) edit "alarm" to "open file", then next to "iCal" select "other" and find/select the song you want to awaken to, in whichever folder it is stored
    e) edit "15 minutes before" down to 1 minute before
    f) click "done". (I will attempt to attach a screenshot to show what the event looks like just before clicking "done".)

    Now that you've done this, the alarm is set (and as I have done it, it will go off at 6 a.m. every M, T, and W morning). But, if your computer is off or asleep in the morning, the alarm WON'T sound until you've turned on the computer - and you'll oversleep!

    3) So, now:
    a) go into your "System Preferences"
    b) click on "Energy Saver"
    c) click on "Schedule"
    d) click "Start up or wake" on "Weekdays" (at 6:00 a.m. for me)

    Now, as it is set up, in the morning, IF THE LID IS OPEN, my computer will automatically awaken at 6 a.m., iTunes will launch, and it will immediately play the selected song to wake me up! Note that the computer will still wake every weekday, not just on M, T, and W. (Because I want to sleep in on Thurs/Fri and not hear the Mac wake up, on Wed night before bed, I go into System Preferences and turn off the automatic wake up feature...and then have to remember to turn it back on on Sunday night before I go to bed.)

    Each night I go to bed planning to be woken up by the alarm, I make sure that:
    a) the lid is OPEN
    b) the power cord is connected (Mac only seems to wake as scheduled when connected to power)
    c) the speaker volume is set to an appropriate waking level
    d) the computer is put to sleep (I don't shut it down, more on that later)
    e) oh yeah, and if I have decided on a different song to wake to, I go in and edit that before putting the computer to sleep


    So, why do I set the Mac to sleep and not shut it down? Well there are many threads detailing advantages and disadvantages of each, but all of that aside and considering the iCal/iTunes alarm only, if you shut down the computer and it starts up in the a.m. as scheduled, you have to hear the loud Apple "bonnnnnnggg" startup sound, which is a HARSH way to wake up before iTunes launches. If the computer just wakes from sleep, the only sound you hear before iTunes launches is the CD/DVD drive spin to wake up, which is a much less harsh sound and sometimes that doesn't even wake me up before I hear iTunes playing my song.

    So, why do I set the wake time for ONE MINUTE AFTER I want to awaken and the actual alarm for ONE MINUTE BEFORE wake time? Well, I learned by trial and error, the hard way, by oversleeping when the alarm didn't work. You COULD set the wake time for exactly 6 a.m. (like I originally did) and then select the option to set the alarm for "on date". You would then select the exact date and time to wake up. The problem with this is that if you have the alarm set to repeat each week for the rest of your working life, you have to go in and edit the "on date" information for every future time the alarm would go doesn't change automatically. I learned this the hard way, assuming it changed automatically and then oversleeping the next day when the alarm didn't work. So, instead of setting the exact date/time the alarm is going to go off, you just set the alarm to go off one minute (or whatever amount of time you want) before the wake time and set the wake time to be one minute (or whatever) later. The net effect is that iTunes starts playing at exactly the same time you want to awaken. Clear as mud? :)

    Note that whatever song you select will play first and then iTunes will continue playing the next song in your library, etc, etc, unless you have iTunes set to shuffle songs. If anyone knows how I could open to a PLAYLIST instead of a specific file, please let me know.

    Also, I do not know why it seems that scheduling your computer to start up or wake from sleep doesn't work unless the computer is attached to the power cord. Anyone know why it doesn't seem to work on battery alone?

    I am open to ANY suggestions to improve this if anyone has any. Thanks again for always helping a newbie!!

    Attached Files:

  2. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    It's a very interesting technical exercise, but why avoid third party software, especially when there are so many great options?

    How I got an iTunes-based alarm:

    1) Downloaded iTunes Alarm 2.0.
    2) Set it up.
    3) ???
    4) PROFIT!

    I've since switched to Awaken, because I bought the last MacHeist bundle, but still.
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    That is quite a post. Nice Work.
    I had created an alarm clock by using Automator and Applescript, it would start with the Volume at 0 and increase by 5% every 20 seconds playing a playlist of classical music and stop the volume increase at 50%.
  4. astopy macrumors newbie


    Jun 16, 2007
    I've just written an applescript you guys might find useful:

    set volume 6
    tell application "iTunes"
    	set shuffle of playlist "The Playlist" to true
    	set sound volume to 100
    	play playlist "The Playlist"
    end tell
    Just change "The Playlist" to the name of whichever playlist you want to play (or "Library"). The first line sets the system volume (max is 7 for some reason); the iTunes volume is out of 100. You can have iCal run this instead of just opening an individual song.
  5. edocintell macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2010
    Music Shuts Off

    When my screen goes to sleep, my music turns off. How can I get that to stop?

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