Forcing a shared Outlook calendar to send an email when altered?
April 8, 2019 6:51 PM   Subscribe

How do I force a shared calendar in Outlook 2016 Professional to email me with a notification when other users add or change a meeting or other calendar item?

I know this function has existed in previous versions of Outlook (we had it in Office 2010 at my previous workplace), but it seems to have been removed from Office 2016.

I'm getting tired of conversations along the lines of:
Me (workforce planner): "I wish you'd have emailed me to say you'd approved Agent_Name to come in late today; I'd have scheduled someone else to take their place in the training session today if I'd have known."
Agent_Name's_Leader: "Oh. I put it in the department calendar yesterday afternoon - I sort of assumed you'd have noticed it."
Me: "We've talked about this: Outlook doesn't notify me or anyone else when you do that unless you make it a meeting and send them an invite. And having to watch the calendar like a hawk and checking the timestamp on each and every item a couple times a day is prone to error and not an effective use of anyone's time."

I'd like to take some ambiguity out of the equation, not least because every time I *do* spot a new entry I find myself doubting myself, checking my emails worried that it was something I'd been told about and overlooked.

I suspect this is something that would require some VBA scripting, though I hope I'm wrong: I'm more than a bit rusty when it comes to VBA, and have never done any VBA work in Outlook itself. I pretty much manage to get by editing my own Excel macros by trial and error with a little help from Professor Google, but that still puts me at the bleeding edge for anyone in my department that doesn't work for ICT, and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty.
posted by MarchHare to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does your company use Office 365 (and have webmail access)? You could setup a utility on Microsoft Flow that will trigger to send you a notification when an event in a certain calendar is added or modified. I just whipped up a test one and it'll let you select your calendar and if an event is modified or created, it'll send you an email with the contents of the appointment and a lot of the data points in the event to include in the email. If you make a new flow, search first for 'outlook' and throw in the calendar item, and then for the notification step, search 'notification' and it'll let you build out your email to send you. Here's a screenshot of what I threw together. It notified me in about 5 seconds after making an event.
posted by msbutah at 7:14 PM on April 8

msbutah: that looks *great* - it's exactly the sort of IFTTT-style solution that I'd prefer, but sadly we've no webmail access. There's an indication of a proposal to investigate the possibility of eventually migrating to 365, but that's not going to happen for an as yet unspecified length of time.
posted by MarchHare at 7:31 PM on April 8

MarchHare, how tech-savvy are you? I know that I have a PowerShell script run at a certain time every day and it sends me the next five days of my attorney's calendar. I also know at one time I investigated trying to get it running on our own PTO calendar -- I think it wasn't working 100% but it might get you part of the way there.

You could also conceivably mandate that everyone include a particular user account that would be "owned" by the PTO calendar, and then have that account automatically forward invites to you and/or other individuals as appropriate. I.e., To: Joe Boss, Jane Staffer, VacationCalendar.
posted by WCityMike at 2:06 PM on April 9

[comment deleted within edit window by user in favor of next one, corrected]
posted by WCityMike at 9:03 AM on April 12

Was waiting for a reply from OP as to how tech-savvy they were before I provided the scripts, but I'm just going to provide them and then un-bookmark the thread. So here is the script that currently is working and transmits a copy of a shared calendar every day. And here is the non-working variant that I had begun to adapt to try to e-mail the shared calendar that had vacation time. It is commented and there are some source webpages at the top that may be of use if you want to work from first principles.
posted by WCityMike at 9:10 AM on April 12

WCityMike - thanks for that! I really appreciate it. Sorry for the late response; as a workforce planner the two weeks bracketing Easter were something of a crunch, and I've had some extra-curricular stuff going on since then that's sucked up a lot of the calm self-care time I use to browse MeFi..
posted by MarchHare at 5:34 PM on May 9

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