Tips and tricks for Google Calendar
March 17, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Tips/tricks for Google Calendar.

I'm using Google Calendar for the first time. (And, actually, using a calendar program for the first time.) Know any cool tips/tricks/hacks/widgets? Have you found a work-around for any annoying elements? Found a cool desktop/sidebar gadget? Please share your favorites uses of Google Calendar. Thanks!
posted by Laura Macbeth to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
What I love the most about google calendar is sharing. Both myself and my fiance have our own calendars that we share with each other so that we can easily see at any time and never have to ask the question "what are we doing next Saturday" ;)

Also, if you have an iPhone, the calendar will sync... so you can update your calendars on the go!
posted by groovesquirrel at 9:55 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check out Lifehacker's articles on Google Calendar:
posted by chengjih at 10:04 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a "possibilities" calendar with lots of recurring events I don't go to all the time (farmer's markets, boardgaming meetups, etc.). If I'm looking for something fun to do, I add it to the view of my main calendar and see what I have time for.
posted by momus_window at 10:10 AM on March 17, 2011 [21 favorites]

To me, the best thing about Google Cal is the ability to layer different calendars. I have one for home, one for business, one for social events, one for local events, etc. I can view them all at once or one at a time.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:21 AM on March 17, 2011

As you start using it, keep in mind that if you want to color code events (work related green, personal red, events with your s.o. blue) you have to make separate calendars for them, and plan how you organize them accordingly. Instead of thinking of events in categorized by type of activity, I think about who I want to share them with, and organize my calendars that way.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:22 AM on March 17, 2011

That should read: "Instead of only thinking of events in categorized by type of activity, I also think about who I want to share them with."

So for example, I have a personal calendar where I put all my doctors appointments (and other personal things), but if I have a doctor's appointment in the evening, when I would normally be home, I put it on the calendar I share with my boyfriend instead.

Now all we need is a hack to make sure that we actually look at each others' calendars.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: If you use Chrome, they've got a great webapp to customize it called Minimalist.
posted by marcin_zissou at 10:42 AM on March 17, 2011

If you're on a mac, a wonderful desktop calendar display is Timeworks. ($9.99 on the Mac store).

You can subscribe to your Google calendars on iCal and it will automatically display your events/appointments on your dekstop as boxes moving towards a line which represents present day.
posted by special-k at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with the layering, e.g. I just created a calendar of games for my soccer team and shared it with them. BTW, if we had a web site, we could embed it there in any number of interesting ways.

I use notifications a lot, particularly SMS ones since I don't have a smartphone at the moment. I tend to set up default notifications for particular calendars.
posted by idb at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2011

SMS notifications are awesome. I tend to set those up for things I absolutely cannot forget to do (write a check to the nanny, doctor's appointments). I don't pay for unlimited texting though. If I did, I might set up SMS notifications for everything. You can set different notifications for different periods of time. Like, email 1 day before, popup 2 hours before, SMS 30 minutes before. If you're like me and need a lot of prompting to remember stuff.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Multiple calendars are awesome. I have one for work and one for home and travel (synced to the TripIt app on my phone). Plus my gf has one, and we share with each other. It's great to see everything in my life on a single interface, and still have the ability to limit the view to only one calendar at a time if I want.

Phone syncing is great as well, making sure I'm never late for a meeting (I've never used the SMS notifications -- sounds nice!)
posted by coolguymichael at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Almost forgot: Check out Google Labs. There's always some functionality there that might be useful, but that isn't available yet on the regular interface. I've enabled Google Doc Attachments, which is really convenient.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2011

If you have an iPhone (I don't know, maybe it's available on other platforms), I *love* teh CalenGoo app.

I'll second everyone else on the multiple calendars.

One idiosyncratic use I have of it is that I usually put everything in the subject line, and don't use the separate 'where' and 'description' boxes. I find it's just as handy or handier and I haven't felt any drawbacks from that yet.

Also - importing public calendars. I have the Jewish calendar from HebCal and it's super useful to have it all laid out there. There are other holiday calendars too (for different countries, religions, etc) and probably other cool ones too.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:42 PM on March 17, 2011

If you also use Contacts in GMail and fill out the birthday and anniversay fields, you can "subscribe" to your contacts' birthdays.

In Calendar, on the left under "Other Calendars" select "Add" --> Browse Interesting Calendars --> More tab --> Contacts' birthdays and events (subscribe). It even displays little birthday cakes next to people's birthdays!

I use separate calendars for different activities and share my "Entertainment" calendar with my boyfriend so that he knows what my plans are in the evening if he's making a plan with someone else for both of us. This works out well for our planning.

In Labs, I like "Jump to Date", "Year View" and "Event Attachments". The last is because I also use Google Docs a lot.

Inputting an address into the map field (with city) creates a link to Google Maps, which is handy.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:51 PM on March 17, 2011

I have two calendars, "bills due" and "bills paid" - I enter the name and dollar amount as the appointment on the day that a bill is due, so that I have that information as I plan for other events during the next few days (and whether they'll cost me money).

Once a bill is paid, I switch that entry to the "bills paid" calendar, which color-codes it differently, and that's that.
posted by danwalker at 1:03 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can bring your Facebook events into Google Calendar too. Just click Events, then all the way at the bottom "Export Events". They give you a link you can use to make a new calendar layer in Google Calendar. Events just pop onto your calendar. To remove them, you'll need to decline or remove them on Facebook - it can take an hour or two to sync up.

Also on Facebook there's an app called "Birthday Exporter" - you can export an iCal file of everyone's birthdays that you can import into a Birthday calendar. It's been a while since I used this, so YMMV.

You can create events by typing things like "9pm dinner with someone at somewhere" - and it'll populate the fields and automagically.

On Android there's a cool app called CallTrack that puts your phone calls into a calendar of your choosing. I have one called "Phone Calls" that I can show/hide. You can track Incoming, Outgoing and Missed - or any combination.

Google Calendar changes your calendar times depending on the local timezone of where you log in from. This can take some getting used to if you're planning on a trip in another timezone and you want to specify a dinner date. To accommodate these, enter the time as "6pm PST Dinner with Someone" - and the time entered will reflect the proper time relative to your current timezone. The World Clock labs is useful for this as well.

You can specify an additional timezone in your settings - if you do, you'll see both timezones in the agenda view. This makes it easier to plan stuff across timezones as well.

From Labs, I also like "Dim future repeating events" - it makes repeating events get dimmer and dimmer the further forward you go in your calendar.

Finally, you can add XKCD to your calendar. It shows a little XKCD icon in the header of each cell in the calendar. Clicking on it shows the cartoon for the day, complete with hover text.
posted by Fat Elvis at 2:04 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm really a pen and paper calendar girl, but I did start using the Google calendar a few months ago. I really liked the email alerts, especially for random things like parking ticket due date and whatnot. Then I realized I wasn't consistently receiving these alerts, and eventually found some in my spam folder. Google was sending its own alerts to spam. So watch out for that issue.
posted by JenMarie at 2:34 PM on March 17, 2011

I've found that setting my custom view to two weeks is the most useful way to look at my schedule. One week isn't enough, and an entire month just isn't useful for me.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 3:06 PM on March 17, 2011

I can't find XKCD! Fat Elvis, please say more.
posted by cyndigo at 3:18 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: These are great. Thank you!
posted by Laura Macbeth at 3:56 PM on March 17, 2011

You know about natural language event inputs, right? To set up an event, you can just write "Dinner with Jay at 2pm on mar 4" and it'll take it from there. Pretty sweet.
posted by awenner at 7:25 PM on March 17, 2011

Aside from one for work and one for tracking my favourite waitress's schedule—kidding—I have a calendar called log, which I primarily use in reverse: for tracking past events. Like when I get a toothbrush, I make a note so I can search in a few months time when it's pretty mangy and figure out a replacement is way overdue. Or what I had for dessert, so when I'm trying to recall the last time I had durian sorbet I can remember and prove Goodfellow Triangle wrong. So, try using it as a diary as much as a calendar.

Also, regularly check it. It's all very well having your appointment marked down, but if you're not checking your calendar what's the point? Try and make it a habit.
posted by oxford blue at 12:19 AM on March 18, 2011

@cyndigo - I did some poking around and found this page for adding the XKCD calendar, Seems to work nicely!
posted by lucyleaf at 7:55 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take a look around the calendar labs, and you will find neat little tricks that suit you individually.

I found a lab in Gmail that allows the calendar function to be added to the sidebar. That way you can check what is happening in your calendar when you check out your email.
posted by MechEng at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: fdcal from facebook adds your facebook freinds birthdays on your google calendar.
posted by radsqd at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2011

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