50 Tips, Tweaks and Hacks to Make the Most of Google Calendar

Much like Gmail, Google Reader and Google’s other products, Google Calendar is fast becoming the application of choice for users all over the world. With great functionality and integration with Google’s other products it’s no wonder its popularity is growing. But chances are good that you’re not maxing out all the features of Google Calendar that you could be. Here are a few ways you can try to add to your Google Calendar experience. Basic Tips You might already be using Google Calendar, but are you using it to the fullest? Here are a few tips to make the most of the basic features.

  1. Make use of the "other calendars" feature. Have a favorite team that you don’t want to miss a game for? Love astronomy and want to keep track of the phases of the moon? You can add both to your Google Calendar. Click the plus sign next to other calendars. From there you can add reminders on your calendar for everything from holidays to your favorite TV show schedules.
  2. Change your view. You aren’t stuck with just the standard view in Google Calendar. Change yours to reflect the format that works best for you. Just go to the Settings page under the General tab and you can change your tabs along the top of the calendar to the time frame that best suits you. You can also change the day your week begins, your date and time format, whether or not to show weekends, and more.
  3. Make the most of quick adds. One of the greatest features of Google Calendar is the quick add feature. Simply hit "Q" on your keyboard or click on the "Quick Add" link in the upper right side of your calendar. You don’t even have to type them in formally, plain english works just fine so long as you include the important details. If you don’t specify a time, GCal will schedule your task or event for the current or next day. Additionally, you can invite others by adding an email to the quick add box and even specify that an event should repeat all from a simple entry box.
  4. Set up email event reminders. Never forget an important meeting or to pick up your dry cleaning again. With Google Calendar you can have your events emailed, texted, pop-up, or sent as SMS to you directly. Just set up reminders under Settings-Notifications.
  5. Add events from Gmail. One of the features of Gmail is that it includes some basic language processing that can recognize event-related information. If it finds some, it will give you an option to add it to your calendar. Simply click on the link and you can edit the event and send it right to your calendar.
  6. View the weather. You can see if your weekly events will sync up with the weather or if you’ll need to bring an extra umbrella by integrating the weather report right into your calendar. Go to Settings and General, enter your location and whether you want degrees in Celsius or Fahrenheit, and you’ll have the weather right at your fingertips.
  7. Set up repeating events. Most people have at least a few regularly occurring events on their schedules. There’s no need to type them in again and again on your calendar. Use the "repeats" pull-down to select the days your event repeats weekly, monthly, or yearly.
  8. Share calendars. You can create and share calendars with others using Google Calendar. Share your kickball team’s schedule, coworkers’ vacations or anything else you want by creating a new calendar and simply clicking on the "share this calendar" link.
  9. Share space. Having trouble managing that conference room between different departments or among coworkers? You can use GCal to help you. Use the auto accept invitations that don’t conflict feature. It will accept any invitations to a conference room that don’t conflict with others.
  10. Invite your friends. Looking for an alternative to Evite? Give GCal a try instead when you’re arranging your next get together. Though not as colorful or festive, you can send and manage event invitations through your calendar and your friends can even comment and discuss the events just like in Evite.

Scripts Scripts make it easy for users to customize their Google Calendar experience. Try these to personalize yours and make it easier to use at the same time.

  1. Display current time line. This simple Greasemonkey script creates a floating red line that displays just where you are during each day so you can keep up to the minute on what appointments are coming up.
  2. Calendar feed for Gmail: Make it easy to see your calendar right from your email with this script. You’ll get a list of upcoming tasks right in your Gmail so you can email about new events easily.
  3. Colorize Saturday and Sunday: Make it easy to differentiate your weekends from your weekdays with this simple script. It will cause Saturday and Sunday to appear a different color on your calendar, preventing any scheduling mishaps.
  4. Extra Tabs: If you’re a lover of tabs and want a few more than Google Calendar comes standard with, then install this script. If you know a bit about scripting you can even further customize it to your needs.
  5. Forecast: Bring your calendar with you anywhere on the web. This script allows you to see the next seven events on your calendar from anywhere just by clicking on a conveniently located forecast button.
  6. Facebook Integration: If you’re a fan of the social networking program Facebook you’ll love this script. It allows you to easily transfer your Facebook events to your Google Calendar so you’ll never miss a get together.
  7. Compact Header: Clear up your screen space by eliminating the extra stuff that goes at the top of your calendar. This script removes the header from Google Calendar, making it more streamlined and easier to use.
  8. Google Calendar Skin: Air: Change the look of your GCal, Gmail, or Google Reader with this light, airy skin.
  9. Google Calendar Skin: Slate: Want to make your GCal less cheery and bright? Try out this rainy day-inspired skin.
  10. Google Calendar Optimized: Change the look of your GCal with this script. It will eliminate icons, change padding, and font sizes to make your calendar even easier to use.
  11. Textwrap Events: Sometimes long event names can be difficult to read on Google Calendar. Fix that problem with this script that wraps text around, making it easier to read.
  12. Wheel View: This script allows you to scroll through your appointments and calendars using just the wheel on your mouse.
  13. GCalSecure: Keep your personal appointments private by making sure that your GCal is being used over a secure connection with this script.
  14. ToDo List: Add a simple to do list to your Google Calendar using this script. You’ll be able to check off those appointments and tasks as the day goes by, giving you a sense of order and accomplishment.
  15. Better GCal: This script combines several helpful scripts including skins, collapsed headers, secure connections, text wrap and more.

Extensions and Add-ons Whether you need to integrate your calendar with your blog or your browser, these extensions can help you make the most of your experience.

  1. GCal Quick Add Extension: Take your quick add function up a notch with this Firefox add on. It allows you to add tasks and events from anywhere, even when you don’t have Google Calendar open.
  2. Remember the Milk: To do list enthusiasts will enjoy integrating their task lists with their calendar with this simple way to integrate the two. You’ll be able to check off any event or task in your calendar to help you keep track of what you’re getting done.
  3. Firefox Full Cal: Small screens can make reading the fine print on your calendar difficult. Expand the screen real estate of your calendar with Full Cal, which eliminates the list of calendars, the mini calendar, the search box, and other stuff that takes up calendar space.
  4. GCal Widget for TypePad: This easy to use widget makes it simple to share your schedule with your blog readers. You can let your loyal readers when you’ll be on vacation or won’t be able to respond to emails.
  5. Google Calendar Widget for WordPress: Don’t use TypePad? This calendar widget is designed for WordPress instead. Put a small or large calendar on your blog to share upcoming events with friends and readers.
  6. Google Calendar Notifier: If you have a Firefox notifier for your Gmail why not have one for your GCal as well? You’ll be able to see your daily appointments as well as those that are upcoming.
  7. iGoogle Calendar Gadget: If your iGoogle page isn’t already customized enough this gadget will allow you to add your calendar into the mix, allowing you to see upcoming events every time to execute a search or open your browser.
  8. Google Calendar Desktop Gadget: Vista users will appreciate this sidebar gadget. You’ll be able to get your Google Calendar right on your desktop so you can access it anytime.
  9. Twittercal: Twitter isn’t just great for quick updates to your blog, you can use it to add events to your Google Calendar as well. Just send a message to the GCal bot and it will update your calendar.
  10. Rainlendar: This Windows and Linux app allows you to run your Google Calendar right from your desktop, so appointments are always right at your fingertips.

Hacks and Tricks Use these tricks and tips to make your Google Calendar better when you’re at home or when you’re away.

  1. Have your schedule sent to you. Google Calendar makes it easy to get your daily agenda sent straight to you. If you’ve got GCal set up to use with your phone, getting your schedule is easy. Simply text "day" to the short code 48368.
  2. Access your calendar remotely. Even when you’re on the road and can’t hook up your laptop you can still get your schedule sent to you. Text "next" to 48368 to get your next day’s schedule sent right to your phone.
  3. Access your calendar from your IM client. No matter what IM client you use you can have events sent right to you with IMified. Sign up for an account and add Google Calendar with the add services link. After that you can simply text "M" to IMified using your buddy list, and a small menu containing your calendar will pop up allowing you to see and change appointments without opening any additional programs.
  4. Use keyboard shortcuts. Google Calendar is chock full of keyboard shortcuts that can speed up your appointment making. You can check out a complete list of the shortcuts here.
  5. Use keyword access on Firefox. You can make accessing Google Calendar in Firefox as simple as pressing a key. Bookmark GCal and add a short simple keyword that you can type in and bring it up quickly and easily.
  6. Make Google Calendar your desktop background. This guide from Lifehacker will tell you how you can make Google Calendar your desktop background in Windows XP. It’s a great digital alternative to the giant paper desktop calendars.
  7. Google Calendar Mobile: This program from Google makes it easy to access Google Calendar right from your phone. Just go to calendar.google.com on your phone and you’ll get a phone sized version of GCal.

Calendar Syncs Many people can’t just get down to one calendar. Here are some programs to make using multiple calendars easy.

  1. GCalDaemon iCalendar Sync: Mac users will be happy to sync up their iCalendars with this easy-to-use program.
  2. SyncMyCal for Outlook: Outlook is one of the most popular calendar programs and you can easily sync up your appointments in Outlook with your Google Calendar using this simple program.
  3. Calgoo: This multi-platform program will make it simple to sync up your Google Calendar, iCal or Outlook, making it easy to use all three without missing a beat.
  4. Google Calendar Quick Import: This script allows users to quickly import appointments from iCal right into Google Calendar.
  5. Goosync: This program will enable you to sync up your Google Calendar with your mobile phone or PDA quickly and easily.
  6. GData Provider: With this program, you’ll be able to access and change Google Calendar from Thunderbird or Sunbird.
  7. Remote Calendars: This add on for Outlook 2003 allows users two-way sync with multiple calendar programs including Google Calendar.
  8. Google Sync for Blackberry: Don’t miss out on your Google Calendar while you’re using your Blackberry. Use this program from Google to easily sync up the two.

Comments

  1. Jordan says

    Number 11 is unnecessary – just go to Settings and turn on “show current time”. Also, I can already scroll my calendar with my mouse wheel or the MacBook’s two finger scroll, so #22 might be unnecessary as well.

    The rest is great.

  2. Jérôme Flipo says

    One more thing (I hope I didn’t miss it above):
    You can add an event with the Google Toolbar the same way you do with “quick add”. Just tape the add in the Google search box and click on the Calendar button (can be found in the Google Toolbar Button Gallery).

  3. Sean says

    “Access your calendar remotely. Even when you’re on the road and can’t hook up your laptop you can still get your schedule sent to you. Text “next” to 48368 to get your next day’s schedule sent right to your phone.”

    Actually “next” will send you the next event on you schedule, “day” will send you everything you have on your schedule for the day and “nday” will send you the next days schedule.
    I use this all the time at work where I can’t access the net and it works great.

  4. says

    I love Google Calendar but one thing drives me batty — the fact that you cannot change the default calendar, or reorder the calendars. Why does this matter? All invitations and synchs go to the default calendar; you cannot choose which calendar to add to.

    Your default calendar is the first calendar you set up. This is just plain stupid.

    Yet, I still use the calendar. Sigh.

  5. says

    I have to agree with Kerri, it’s really irritating that you can’t change the default calendar.

    Another annoyance is that email alerts can only go to your gmail address, not any of the other addresses used in your gmail account.
    I have to set up a filter to forward the mails to the account I actually want. Which means I see two of every alert. Annoying!!

  6. Marce says

    Great compilation, I’m sharing with the team. One problem we’re having — you create multiple private calendars so you have a colorcoded master calendar, how do you share just a single URL with your other team members w/o using a web site? All suggestions welcome.

  7. Bjørn C. B. says

    I have the same problem – I wan’t to change my default calendar but can’t!

    I only use a shared calendar with my girlfriend, but I would wan’t to use goosync (free) to sync my mobile phone calendar with our google calendar, but goosync only allows you to sync with your DEFAULT calendar.

    Therefore I would like to change my default calendar on my google account, but that’s not possible at the moment.

    Anyone knows of a good way to “circumvent” this problem?

  8. Dean says

    I use OGGSYNC to sync my windows mobile phone to my google calendar and my wife’s calendar over the air (wirelessly). Works great. I have option to turn off reminders for events on her calendar. I also tried SyncMyCal Mobile and had problems with recurring meetings. Oggsync rocks!

  9. Julie Carlson says

    The Google Calender is being used on an existing Internet radio website that is undergoing redesign. We use it to show our on air dj and show schedule. One feature we would like to add:

    – when there is a live dj (scheduled on the calender on the schedule page)
    – display an “on air” message on the home page

    Can we use Google Calender to accomplish this?

  10. Mark - Managed WordPress Hosting says

    Awesome, I’m always looking to expand my knowledge of google calendar and I will make the best of the information in your post.

  11. Dr. P. says

    Yes, bruzl, why in this 21st Century can we not change the settings so that we don’t have to see what happens from 12 AM through 6 AM or after 9 PM? I don’t work during those times; I don’t schedule anything during those times. Why must I view that part of the day? Duh…

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