Use the "22 Colors of Maximum Contrast" to Organize Your Calendars

Color-coded calendars are a great way to organize your life, but after the first few colors, it can be hard to tell them all apart. This chart, which showcases Kenneth L. Kelly's 22 colors of maximum contrast, provides a selection of colors that are easy to tell apart.

The chart comes from this post at Burgess Studio, listing Kelly's 22 colors, in order of recommended usage. So, if you have five calendars, use the first five colors for maximum contrast between them. If you have 14, use the first 14, and so on.

This tip comes from reader etudes over on our reader-run blog, Hackerspace, and while it applies to calendars, it's really useful for anything that requires lots of distinct colors. If you have a certain number of colors you know you need, you can also use a tool like I Want Hue to generate a palette for you. Check out the full post below for more calendar organization tips.

Some OS X Calendar Tips

  • Set up a key command to toggle the Calendar List sidebar, so you can easily get it out of your way when you don't need it.
    System Prefs > Keyboard > Shortcuts tab > App Shortcuts > add two shortcuts:
    1. Application: Calendar; Menu Title: Show Calendar List; Shortcut: ⌥+.
    2. And the same thing, but with Menu Title: "Hide Calendar List"
  • If the text in your events are being cut off, for instance in Week view, you can actually adjust the text size a bit smaller using ⌘ + minus (-) or plus (+).
  • If you have more than 7 calendars like I do, then Apple doesn't provide enough distinct colors in their presets. Here are four more that work well: a nicely contrasting pink, a gray, white, and black. Another one that works pretty nicely is a much darker or brighter red than the default red. If you need even more, you could use Kenneth Kelly's 22 colors of maximum contrast, or this tool, or this other tool for generating distinct colors. Here's a couple examples from those last two.
  • Also, just know your shortcuts.
    ⌘T goes to Today, probably my most used shortcut in Calendar.
    ⇧⌘T goes to a specific date.
    ⌘1,2,3,4 toggle to respective calendar views.