January 14, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I've read tons of advice on how to sync iCal on my mac with iCal on my iPhone via Google, but I'm still confused. Could a patient explainer explain to me how it works?

Apparently, both iCals can be synced using gCal as an intermediary. What I can't visualize is how it works in two directions at once. I was hoping someone could walk me step by step what happens when I make an update on one calendar and it propagates to the others? What happens if they conflict?

I stumbled into this in the context of trying to figure out how to view on the iphone the carefully-color-coded subcalendars I have on iCal on my mac, while only syncing via wi-fi. Is there a way to have, for example, bill deadlines in red on both calendars? (If it matters, I am using Snow Leopard and iOS 4.2.1.)
posted by skidoom to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would encourage you to use google calendar on your iphone (and on your mac). I switched a while back from doing what you're doing to using Google calendar on the cloud/the mac/the phone. It works like a charm. The nice thing is that it also, then, integrates tasks, contacts, etc....
posted by HuronBob at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2011

They won't conflict because, if you use Google Calendar as your calendar, it's the system of record. I don't do this with multiple calendars, although I am pretty sure it's possible. You'll want to set those calendars up on Google Calendar, then, as I've read online:
In iCal's Preferences, go to Accounts, then Delegation to check off as many secondary calendars as you want to sync to iCal.

The iPhone support is via Google's Exchange-emulating mode, so it should sync things around as usual.

It works in multiple directions because you really only have one set of calendars, stored by Google. If you add an item in one place, it's pushed to Google, and then immediately pushed to all other synced devices. I set up my Mom with this sort of arrangement over Christmas. I added an item to her calendar on her Macbook, and it appeared on her iPad a foot away within a second.
posted by mikeh at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2011

this might seem like a stupid question - but why use both google cal and ical? (sorry to piggyback your question.) i'm forever behind in things like contacts/cals - especially with regard to google.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2011

Response by poster: Not a stupid question...I would prefer to use ical only, but as I understand it, the only way to wirelessly sync my iphone cal with my mac cal is via iTunes and a cable. So you have to find some kind of intermediary.

So it sounds like I would need to re-create my calendar in Google (including my subcalendars) then push it to both devices, is that right?
posted by skidoom at 9:34 AM on January 14, 2011

I just use GCal for inputting events, but I can have my iDevice (and iPod touch for me) sync my GCal events so they can be displayed in the native iCal program (you can also do this for iCal on your computer)

In your Google Calendar on the left-hand side there should be a list on the calendars, (I have one called "$NAME" and "Exercise") and there should be a drop-down menu where you can click "calendar settings." You can export the iCal format. AFAIK you cannot edit your Google Calendar through iCal because it is a calendar you "subscribe to."
posted by sararah at 9:39 AM on January 14, 2011

So I do this and it was a bit of a pain to set up but once I got it working everything works fine. Note that I did all this right off the bat, I'm not sure how to get existing iCal calendars onto gCal exactly.

Note I use Google Apps to handle both my email and calendaring, but use iCal, Address Book and as my email and calendar access apps.

You have essentially two steps here that are distinct. The first is the iCal to Google Calendar sync. The steps for doing so is here:

This should basically get you going with iCal and gCal, those two should now sync. Note the bit above about which calendars to delegate. Once you have iCal and gCal sync'd then move on to your iPhone.

The usual way to do this is to setup an Exchange Account on your iPhone those instructions are here

Note when you set up the account on your iPhone you can usually chose what to sync, such as email, calendar and contacts. You likely just want calendar and, maybe, contacts.

I've had issues with contact syncing but the calendar stuff seems to work fine.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2011

See this Google support page. If you are using recent iPhone and OS X iCal software, this works perfectly. I set it up a few months ago after years of trying different syncing strategies, and I hated them all. Now you can create appointments anywhere -- on your iPhone, in iCal or on the Google Calendar web page, and they're synced everywhere automatically. Also works if you have multiple Google calendars; they show up as different calendars in iCal with the same color you give them in Google Calendar.
posted by ldenneau at 10:18 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I do this I end up with calendars in iCal that are local to the Mac in the "On My Mac" section, and Google calendars under my Google account name. always inserts calendar invites into the local calendar by default. Entries I make on my Android devices get made by default in my Google calendar. So the two calendars over time start to diverge, as I've got entries in the Google calendar and entries in "On My Mac". This to me wasn't sync, but rather subscription (i.e., the calendars weren't in sync, but rather the Mac was subscribing to the Google calendar). I finally solved the problem using Spanning Sync, which actually copies entries between the two.
posted by Runes at 11:01 AM on January 14, 2011

Best answer: Runes, you put your finger exactly on the problem...I want to sync the two with each other, not link both to a third calendar. I checked out SpanningSync and ended up subscribing. If anybody else is interested, you can use coupon code R99ABK to save $5.00 on a year's subscription, and I'll get a referral credit.

Thanks, all!
posted by skidoom at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2011

« Older Defaulting on a HELOC in California?   |   Combating Perception vs. Reality Issues Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.