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8 ways to share calendars or events in Outlook

There are at least eight ways to share an entire calendar or individual appointment in Outlook software.

Sharing can be ‘live’ and connected.  Any changes or updates to the event or calendar are automatically sent to everyone sharing.

Or it can be a ‘one-off’ item. A special attachment which is emailed or a little .ics file. Receivers can add it to their calendar by clicking on the incoming .ics file.

Some work best if you have an Exchange Server account or while others are OK with any connection (using the iCalendar standard and .ics files).. We’ll explain both options so anyone can share single events/appointments or whole calendars.

Our ebook Effective Outlook Calendars shows all the tricks possible with modern calendars.

Historical events Calendar

For this article we’ll use some Apollo 11 events from 1969 as examples.

Most shared calendars are for current appointments but there’s a less well-known use as reminders of historical events. Add an event for the original date/time plus reminders for each year, 5 years or decade after that.

In an organization, a shared calendar could remind staff of important anniversaries.  Product Launch, moving head office, take over, arrival of important staff/managers.

Even families could use a shared calendar to track major events. Moving house, anniversaries of relatives/friends, school terms.  A single calendar that everyone in the family can see.

Birthdays are usually managed within Contacts but could be added to a shared calendar as well.

Share Calendar

An entire calendar can be shared with other people. Rather than share your personal calendar, make a separate or sub-calendar.  Multiple calendars can be viewed side-by-side or overlaid into a single view with your own calendar.

Make a separate calendar in Outlook by right-clicking on Calendar in the left Navigation Pane and choose ‘New Calendar’.

Add calendar items as usual. See Add events and reminders

Right-click on the Calendar then Share …

E-mail Calendar

Send a copy of the calendar as an email attachment.  This is a one-time thing. Any later changes made to the calendar are NOT copied to others.

There are choices to send only events in a certain date range, the level of detail and attachments.  The email has both a list of events in the message plus a .ICS file that can be added to the receivers calendar or added as a separate calendar.

Share Calendar

The better alternative is to Share Calendar. That’s a link to the calendar saved on a cloud service. Any updates to the calendar are seen automatically by anyone sharing the calendar.

Exactly how calendars are shared and what’s shared depends on your mailbox.

We recommend sharing calendars using the web browser version of your mailbox – not Outlook for Windows/Mac etc.  The online version will show the correct and latest sharing options available to you and receivers.  Outlook software might not show the same or all sharing available.

Find the calendar online, click the menu dots then ‘Sharing and permissions’.

Enter the email address/es of people to share the calendar with.  Emails go to each person that might look like this.

They click on Accept and View calendar.

(‘this URL’ at the bottom is the .ICS version of the calendar.  People with Gmail or other non-Microsoft systems can use that.)

Adding a shared calendar

The receiver clicks on the email link which opens a web page with the calendar link.  Copy that link.

In Outlook or online version, Home in Calendar view, Add Calendar | From Internet. Paste in the web link (starts with webcal:// ends with .ics)

Then the linked calendar appears in Outlook. Either side-by-side other calendars or overlaid.

Time Zone bonus!

Each person viewing the shared calendar sees the event at the right time in the computers current time zone! Here’s the ‘First Step’ calendar item in Outlook with two time zones (Sydney, Australia  just before 1pm and Europe in the very early morning).

This also shows a long-standing problem with Microsoft’s time zone ‘support’.  The time zone columns don’t properly show the date, just the time. It’s not clear that the Sydney time is the day after Europe/USA.

Share an appointment

People can be invited to appointments or events on your calendar.

Outlook sends an .ICS file via email and sends updates whenever you change the appointment on your system.

Any type of Outlook connection does this – Exchange Server,, Gmail or whatever. has promoted this for many years as something individuals can do to arrange things with friends and family.  In other words, it’s not just for businesses.

See Send and Receive appointments with Outlook

Save as ICS calendar item

To send a single event to many people can be done using an .ICS file.  It’s a plain text file with all the calendar details to be imported into the receivers calendar.

Find the event then choose File | Save As | Save Selected Appointment.

That saves an .ics file which you can send to anyone by any means.  Email attachment, instant messaging, USB stick, camel train, whatever.

See Beating Bots, Spies and Cock-ups for advice on privately and securely sending files (big and small).

Save Calendar as ICS

It’s a similar thing to share a calendar with multiple events/appointments.

Select the calendar then File | Save As | Save Calendar.

Choose the More Options … you like.

That saves an .ics file which you can send to anyone by any means.  Email attachment, instant messaging, memory stick, husky dog sled, whatever.

See Beating Bots, Spies and Cock-ups for advice on privately and securely sending files (big and small).

Copy to my Calendar

In Outlook an event in another calendar can be copied to your main calendar via Appointment Series | Actions | Copy to My Calendar.

As the name suggests, a copy of the calendar item is made, not a link.  Later changes in the original event aren’t synced to your calendar.

Forward vs Forward as iCalendar

Appointment Series | Actions | Forward and Forward as iCalendar send a copy of the event/appointment via email.

Forward sends an Outlook item that’s only compatible with Microsoft Outlook.

Forward as iCalendar uses the iCalendar standard to send the same information.  Choose this option, if you don’t know what software the receiver uses.

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