Google Calendar sync with Outlook

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Google’s free tool to sync Outlook calendar with their online service gives you a powerful combination and new options.

Google’s online calendar can now synchronize with your Outlook calendar – it does it well, for free and is available now. There’s several reasons why you might want to keep a copy of our calendar data online without entirely forsaking Outlook.

Google Calendar Sync works with Outlook 2007 or 2003 on Windows XP or Vista.

Once you have a free Google Calendar setup (part of a Google onlne account) go to a help page for instructions and a link to the small Windows program necessary.

Google hasn’t just provided a way to copy your calendar once between Outlook and their service. This is a proper synchronisation tool that can update one or both calendars on a regular basis.

598 Google Calendar Outlook sync options - Google Calendar sync with Outlook

 


2 Way

is the default and will copy new and changed appointments between each calendar on a regular basis. This is a new Google program, still in beta. Any two-way sync tool can cause conflict and duplication problems so we’re inclined to stay away from this choice for the moment. No specific reason, just caution.


1 way – Google Calendar to Outlook

If you’ve been using Google Calendar but would like a copy to appear in Outlook then this is the choice for you. You might want a copy to view offline or simply an automatic backup. Keep in mind that changes made in Outlook will NOT copy back to Google Calendar.


1 way – Outlook to Google Calendar

This is the choice that really appeals to us. Your existing Outlook calendar get copied to Google Calendar which opens up to you the great set of features available online from Google. Changes made online will NOT be copied back to Outlook.

After you’ve installed the Google program, enter you Google Calendar login address and password plus sync preference then just sit back ant let it run. As you’d expect the first pass takes a while to collect the calendar info and transfer it. After that initial run the program runs happily in the background.

Google Calendar Sync is wonderfully unobtrusive. If Outlook isn’t running on the computer it just stays idle with no complaint. Similarly there’s no pesky warnings if your computer is offline, it does nothing until it detects a connection and can resume its work.

Google has a simple ‘Known Issues‘ page for the Calendar Sync app.

It doesn’t seem to handle the admittedly rare situation of multiple Outlook calendars. It would be nice to select the exact calendar and Outlook profile you want to synchronize.

Similarly the current version of Google Calendar Sync can only sync to your primary Google Calendar, not any secondary one you’ve created. A pity but tolerable.

Outlook Categories don’t get copied to Google Calendar because there’s no equivalent feature in Google’s service.

Google reminders have three options: pop-up, email and SMS. Outlook only has one: pop-up. So only pop-up reminders can be synced. Google Calendar lets you have multiple reminders for a single event (a great idea) but Outlook only has one so only one Google reminder per event can be copied to Outlook.

Once your Outlook calendar is up on Google’s service you can do some cool things which can show up dire lapses in Outlook or just expand it into useful areas.


Time Zones

Yes, I know it’s a bit of a cause here at Office Watch, but really the ‘support’ for time zones in Outlook has been so poor for way too long.

And if you need proof, copy your Outlook calendar to Google Calendar and see how easy time zone support can be.

In Google Calendar, just go to Calendar Settings and change the time zone. The change only applies to Google Calendar and not any other part of your computer (Outlook is linked to the Windows TZ setting).

We’ve been using the Google Calendar sync simply to give us a view of the same calendar but in a different time zone – something Outlook can’t properly do. This let us easily plan a trip to, say, London or New York while we and Outlook are in San Francisco.

This alone is a good reason to sync Outlook with Google Calendar but there are others.


Mobile Viewing

Corporate Outlook users can access their calendar via web pages, mobile phones etc because those features are part of Exchange Server. But non Exchange Server users, like most individual and small businesses, can only use Outlook or a compatible PDA.

Once the calendar is synced with Google Calendar you can view (and edit if you choose two-way sync) from any web browser, standard or tiny screens.

There’s even special support for the Apple iPhone/iTouch web browser.


Multiple Computers

Would you like to see your calendar on multiple computers around your home or work? Just open Google Calendar web pages on each computer – simple.


iGoogle

Once your details are up on Google Calendar you can make them appear on your iGoogle personal web page through a gadget.

There’s an official Google Calendar gadget from Google plus variations from other developers.


Notifications

Once your calendar is posted with Google you can get alerts for upcoming events via your mobile phone.

Outlook 2007 has a similar sounding feature but it requires subscription to external, extra payment, services. Google Calendar has no charge from Google and works with Outlook 2007 and 2003.


Mapping

Google Calendar events with a full address in the ‘Where’ field (same as ‘Location’ in Outlook) will link to Google Maps. Outlook has a similar, but clumsy, add-on for Microsoft’s online mapping services.


Expandability.

Google is encouraging developers to come up with hooks into their online services so you can look around for innovative ways to use you Outlook calendar as stored in Google Calendar.


Backup

Not only do you have a backup of your calendar, in case Outlook goes belly up but it’s a working copy that you can use immediately with no setup time.

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