Desktop calendar applications are great if you're always at your desk or if you're diligent about synchronizing with your tablet or smartphone. But if you like to travel light, it may be time for you to switch to a calendar that you can access from any Internet terminal. Also, you have a club, team or company and you want to be sure that everyone knows about upcoming events or everyone is available in a specific day and hour for an important business meeting.
Therefore, you'll need an online calendar. And one of the most robust online calendars is available in Google Calendar. Google Calendar lets you keep track of your own events and share your calendars with others. It's the ideal tool for managing personal and professional schedules. It is both simple to use and very powerful.
Google Calendar can be accessed via mobile devices, Outlook and CalDAV
In Google Calendar, you can pick a time with the mouse to add an appointment or use the „Quick Add” field that understands some „natural” language (such as „dinner with company CEO tomorrow at 7pm”). Repetition options, thankfully, are also flexible. If you use Gmail, you can turn emails into events easily, too. In reverse, Google Calendar sends you as many reminders as you like, not only to any email address, but also via SMS or pop ups in browser. Google Calendar can be accessed via mobile devices (including iPhones, BlackBerries and Windows Mobile), Outlook and CalDAV (Mozilla Sunbird, iCal). Google Calendar can also import data from other calendars in the iCal or CSV formats. This comes in handy if you plan on migrating your schedule to Google once and forever. But for people who want to use both Google and Outlook, Google makes a utility that keeps data from both sources in sync with each other.
Choose how to see the calendar and what details to associate to each event
Once you're logged into Google Calendar, you can quickly switch between day, week, month, and other views by clicking the tabs along the top of the calendar. The Agenda view conveniently displays your appointments in chronological order, starting with the present date, without the screen clutter of a day, week, or month view. You can also customize your view, to display your preferred time period, from two days to four weeks. Click „Settings” in the upper right corner of the screen and then scroll down to „Custom view” to choose your option from the drop-down list.
Google Calendar provides a couple of easy ways to add items. One way is to click „Quick Add” in the upper left area of the calendar page and start typing. A second approach is to click a „day” or „time” in the main calendar and to start typing in the box that opens. Google Calendar recognizes most expressions of time and it schedules the associated calendar events accordingly. Also, something happened and you need to reschedule. You can easily change dates and times by dragging and dropping an appointment.
You want to know, also, if you completed all the event details. Double-clicking any event you can see all of its associated details. You can change or add some details by choosing „edit event details”.
You can share your entire calendar or just individual events
Your calendar is not yours exclusively: everybody wants a share, or at least know what you're up to. In Google Calendar, you can make entire calendars public for the world to see or share them with. And the setup is flexible.
By default, only you can see events on your calendar. But you can make entire calendars (or just individual events), public if you like. To change the default setting, click „Settings” in the upper right and then „Calendars” tab. Click the link under „sharing” to open the appropriate calendar. Then use the checkboxes to instruct Google Calendar whether to share everything with the whole world or just an event. To share with specific people only, leave those checkboxes empty and use the controls underneath to add the names of the privileged people. Click „Save”, and Google Calendar will offer to send them an invitation.
If a recipient uses a Gmail account, the event will appear in the invitee's calendar with a question mark icon. The recipient can click the event and choose „Yes, No, Maybe, or Delete” directly in the calendar. Invitees can also use the „add a comment” feature to leave notes for the group to read. To receive notifications about invitations and replies, click the arrow next to the calendar name, and choose „notifications” from the pop-up menu. You can also choose how you are notified (by e-mail, SMS or desktop alerts). Naturally these settings affect only how you are notified, not how your guests are. They'll have to set up their preferences on their own calendars.
Print, embed or check your calendar without logging in
Sometimes you need your calendar information to appear somewhere other than in Google Calendar. Therefore, Google Calendar permits you to print, save, and embed your calendar in other Web sites or blogs. The print icon lets you print your current view or export it as PDF. You also can check your calendar without logging in. To do this, you may use the buttons in the Private Address section to get the URL for a read-only version of your calendar.
A few things to remember:
- Google Calendar lets you create multiple, color-coded calendars.
- Each calendar can be shared with other Google Calendar users using flexible permissions (admin, make changes, view only, etc).
- Google Calendar includes daily, weekly, monthly and custom views as well as an agenda. And each view can be printed.
- Flexible scheduling repeats events automatically. Flexible reminders notify you via email, SMS or desktop alert.
- Google Calendar includes some keyboard shortcuts, and events can be created using natural language as well as mouse dragging.
- The Gmail Tasks to-do list is available from Google Calendar, and you can create calendar events from Gmail, too.
Sources: Google Official Blog, Google Enterprise, PC World, about.com (a part of New York Times Company)