Happy Birthday to… Who? How to delete an acquaintance’s birthday calendar

For historical and sync reasons, you can end up with more birthdays listed as events than you’d like.

Social media has diminished the value of birthdays by flooding our timeline with their year-on-day celebrations of those far beyond our close friends, family, and colleagues. This is no more obvious in your calendar, which you may find unexpectedly congested with every birthday of people you may not even remember.

How does this happen? It’s a combination of synchronizing and importing inheritance and modernity, for most of us. In the past, Apple has offered tighter integration between Facebook and its operating systems. You may also have imported or synced contacts between Google and your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, or sync operations are still active.

If you’re like me, you can also have fragments of contacts exported through a variety of software on multiple computers, mobile phones, and work and the like. I can hardly believe I’ve ever known many people on my contact list.

All of those things can lead to many unnecessary entries in the Birthday field in your Contacts database. The Calendar app on all Apple platforms has a Birthday calendar displayed by default using the Birthday field as a source.

I know that I have hundreds of birthdays imported from Facebook and although I wish them all well, I have never celebrated a birthday for 99 percent of them — maybe 75 percent I’ve never even met in person!

The only way to remove a selective birthday from your Calendar is to delete the Birthday field information or the entire contact card from Contacts.

You can create a smart group in Contacts that displays all the items that contain the date of birth. Just select File> a new Smart Group, and then select the Date of Birth criteria and the “set” filter. Name the group as Birthday Entry and click OK, and you’ve got a convenient list. (Thank you to Reader Howard of Macworld for this additional tip!)

You can use Calendar as a tool to find only the birthdays you want to delete:

Open the Calendar app in macOS.
Go to January 1 (View> To Date) and show weekly view (View> Weekly).
For each date of birth that you want to delete, click Control when you click it, and then click Show in Contacts. The entry opens in the Contacts app.
Click Edit, and then click the – (minus) sign next to the Birthday field.
Click Done. The calendar item disappears almost instantly.
Repeat for each birthday and every week of the year.

If you don’t see a link like in step 3 above, you might be syncing with Google and need to sign in to your Google account to check birthdays associated with contacts and remove them there.

Just keep in mind by using a smart group or deleting a birthday manually, the next time you type your contacts or decide to sync with another service, you can refresh that birthday list.

There’s another option, which is to hide any calendar called Contacts or Birthdays by unswathing it. This prevents all birthdays from appearing listed in the Contacts app or accounts that are actively synchronized. (This also prevents synced accounts, such as Google accounts, from being used as name-fill suggestions when adding participants to an event.)

You can then create annual recurring events on your main calendar, or the new calendar contains only the birthdays you want to be reminded of each year.

This Mac 911 article is in response to questions from Peter’s Readers of Macworld.

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