Add Alerts based on Travel Time into Your Calendar Alerts

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic
Have you ever added an event to your calendar, added an alert for when you should leave, and still ended up being late due to traffic? Happily, the Calendar apps in both macOS and iOS can build travel time, including accounting for traffic, into event alerts so you can leave at the right time. There’s a slight setup, but it’s not difficult, and once you form the habit of attaching locations to your events, you’ll get a reputation for punctuality.

First, if you’re working on an iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPad, make sure Calendar can access your location by going to the Settings app. Then go to Privacy > Location Services > Calendar. Make sure Allow Location Access is set to While Using the App.

Next, you need to make sure the Time to Leave option is turned on. On the Mac, open the Calendar app and go to Preferences (it’s under Calendar in the Menu Bar. Select Alerts and select the Time to Leave checkbox. In iOS, go to the Settings app. Tap on Calendar. Then tap on Default Alert Times and enable Time to Leave. That’s all you have to do to make sure this is setup properly.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Now to setup an event with alerts for travel time, follow these steps:

Create a new event, and enter a title and the start time. This does have to be an event with a time as travel time doesn’t work with all-day events.

Once you enter the event title and start time, in the Location field, start typing your destination’s name or address. You must be able to reach the destination within 3 hours to receive alerts about when to leave.

Calendar will start offering matches from your contacts, from recently visited places, and then from place names and addresses near you. So you could type a friend’s name and pick their card from Contacts, or a place name like “Herrick Public Library,” or even a specific address, like “84 East 8th Street.”

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

After typing a partial name or address, you must pick one of Calendar’s suggestions so it knows the exact location of your destination.

The next step will change depending on if you are on a Mac or iOS device.

On the Mac, in the Travel Time pop-up menu (click once to reveal it), choose the automatically generated travel time for driving or walking, or, if your city is supported, public transit. You can’t change your starting location, which is based on the location of events in the previous 3 hours (it assumes you’re there!), your work address during work hours, your home address during off hours, or your computer’s location if all else fails. (The addresses come from the card in the Contacts app that is open when you choose Card > Make This My Card.)

In iOS, tap Travel Time and in the Travel Time screen, enable the Travel Time switch. A starting location may be picked for you, based on your current location and time of day, or based on a previous event, but you can always tap Starting Location and pick a different spot. Then tap a travel time based on location for walking, driving, or transit, which will reflect both your starting and ending locations, plus the traffic conditions.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Now it’s time to back out of the Travel Time screen and set alerts based on the travel time, which may take traffic conditions into account. By default, setting travel time creates an alert for Time to Leave, although you may wish to set a second alert that gives you a few minutes to get ready beforehand.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

That’s it. Your event will now alert you when you need to leave based on your location and traffic. Here’s another tip if you have an iPhone 6s or later, you can 3D Touch the alert to open a preview that has a link for directions; tap Directions to view the travel directions in the Maps app. If your iPhone doesn’t support 3D Touch, tap the alert to open the event in Calendar, after which you can tap the map preview to open the location in Maps.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Once you get the hang of setting up the events, getting alerts that are based on your location and traffic to travel time, and they include directions, you should be good to go on making it to you even on time!

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