Multiple Calendars in Outlook

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Microsoft Outlook has provided the capability to work with multiple calendars in a single installation of Outlook since at least Outlook 97. However, in Outlook 2003, new functionality was added that makes this feature far more practical and easy to use.

By Kara Monroe

Microsoft Outlook has provided the capability to work with multiple calendars in a single installation of Outlook since at least Outlook 97. However, in Outlook 2003, new functionality was added that makes this feature far more practical and easy to use for families sharing a single installation of Outlook, employees sharing a computer, or just an individual who needs to manage multiple calendars in an easy to use format.

This easy to use viewing format is the new feature that is only available on Outlook 2003. All of the other items discussed below can be used with Outlook 2000, 2002/XP, and 2003. Where different steps are required for each version, those will be provided.

WHY CREATE MULTIPLE CALENDARS?

You might wonder why you would want to have more than one calendar in Outlook. If you search for Multiple Calendars in Office Help, you will get instructions for printing a blank calendar. This is one nice reason to create a second calendar. If you need a paper calendar that is blank, you can create a second, blank calendar and print this calendar in any view. But, this is a limited view of the possibilities of the use of multiple calendars. Here are a few of my favorite uses for multiple calendars:

  1. A calendar named vacation schedules can be used to track the vacation schedules of your staff members without clogging up your own calendar.
  2. A calendar named office schedule can be used to set the schedule for an office that must be covered at all times by individuals working a variety of hours.
  3. A calendar named after a project you are working on can be utilized to plan a project before you place all of the items on your own calendar.
  4. My favorite – I create a My Trip calendar for any vacation I’m taking so I can list flight times, planned activities, and other items.

BEFORE YOU PLAN, YOU SHOULD KNOW…

While Office 2003 makes using Multiple Calendars a bit easier, there is still a long way to go before this feature is truly as helpful as it could be. For example, there is no way to simply merge two calendars. This would be very efficient in the third and fourth examples above. In both of these examples, the created calendar could allow you to continuously tweak the project or trip plan without cluttering up your primary calendar. I’d love to be able to merge these quickly from the created calendar to my primary calendar once everything is set. There is no easy way to do this.

You can move items from one calendar to another by dragging and dropping, but be careful! Calendar items dragged from one calendar to another calendar will stay in the location where dropped, not necessarily on the time and date that item was listed on the created calendar. Check the times and dates carefully to make sure no dates or times get changed.

Each calendar can be separately customized. This means you can set a different font and font size for each calendar or change the time interval (15-minute, 30-minute, etc.) for each calendar. To access these features, right-click the Calendar you want to change and select “Other Settings…” from the menu. You can not set different background colors for each calendar – another feature that would further extend the functionality and ease of use of this feature.

If you just want to see groupings of your appointments and events then consider using Categories within a single calendar. For example, any travel events (air, hotel or car bookings) could be assigned to a category then viewed separately or color coded.

Now that you’ve been warned against the possible problems you could encounter in using multiple calendars, let’s take a look at how to create and work with multiple calendars.

CREATING MULTIPLE CALENDARS

Creating Multiple Calendars is a simple process. Follow these steps if you are using Outlook 2000 or 2002/XP:

  1. Be sure your Folder List is showing. If the Folder List is not showing, select Folder List from the View menu.
  2. Right-click Calendar in the Folder List and select New Folder.
  3. Give your second calendar a descriptive name.
  4. The “Folder Contains:” drop-down list should already say Calendar Items. If it doesn’t, select Calendar Items from the list.
  5. In the “Select where to place the folder” list, Calendar will be selected by default. Leaving the default will make your new calendar a sub-folder under Calendar. If you’d prefer it to be listed as a “top-level” item rather than a sub folder item, select Personal Folders. Click OK.

Your calendar has now been created. To view this calendar, click the name of the calendar from the Personal Folders list.

Follow these steps to create a second calendar if you are using Office 2003:

  1. Click the Calendar button from the Outlook Bar.
  2. Right-click the area just under the “My Calendars” heading on the left. Select New Folder.
  3. Follow steps 3 – 5 above.

Regardless of which version of Outlook you are using, you can also create a second calendar by clicking the drop down arrow just to the right of the New button on the standard Outlook toolbar and selecting Folder… from the menu. Once you’ve selected folder, follow steps 3 through 5 from the instructions for Outlook 2000 and 2002/XP.

VIEWING TWO CALENDARS AT ONCE

While Office 2003 makes it easy to view multiple calendars at the same time, it wasn’t impossible utilizing earlier versions of Outlook. We’ll look at earlier versions first and then conclude with Outlook 2003.

In earlier versions of Outlook, you’ll again need to be able to see your folder list. Remember that you can open the folder list from the View menu in Outlook. Then follow these steps:

  1. In the folder list, select one of the two calendars you want to view.
  2. In the folder list, right click the second calendar you want to view. Select Open in New Window from the menu.
  3. The calendar will now open in a second window. The easiest way to see these two calendars side by side is to right-click the Windows task bar and select “Tile Windows Vertically.” (Note that if you have more than just these two windows open, you may want to close extra windows prior to completing this step.)

In Outlook 2003, this step can be accomplished much more easily. In Office 2003, go to the Calendar area. Under My Calendars check the calendars you want to see. The calendars are now displayed side-by-side. In Outlook 2003, you can right-click the area under “My Calendars” and select the Move Up in List or Move Down in List to change the order of your calendars in this list. If you would prefer than one of the calendars not show in this list you may also select Remove from My Calendars. This does not delete the calendar – you can still access it from the folder list – it only removes it from the My Calendars view.


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