Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar are finally going to play nice togeth. That’s good news for people who use both tools and who have friends or co-workers who do the same. Now, when someone adds an event to one of these programs, it will show up in the other almost instantly. That’s a great step forward from the days when each program had to be updated separately, and sometimes with different results.
Getting these two programs to talk to each other isn’t as hard as it might seem, either. Both apps let you export your events in iCal format, which can then be imported into the other app. You can do this manually or you can set up automatic integration. The latter option is the better choice, since it means you won’t have to worry about double booking your appointments or forgetting to update your coworkers.
To make this happen, you’ll need an account at both services and a browser that can access both. You also need an email account that can sync with both programs. In many cases, that means using an Exchange email account such as a work or school account. If you don’t have an Exchange account, you can still import your Google Calendar data into your Outlook calendar, though it might take a little more effort.
The first step is to open your Google Calendar and click the gear icon (Settings) in the upper-right corner of the screen. Select “Share this calendar” and choose whether you want to share it with everyone, just your contacts or only certain groups. Then copy the ICS link that appears in the Share this calendar box. Next, head to Outlook and open the Calendar section by clicking Calendar > From Internet. In the section that appears, paste the iCal URL from your Google calendar into the box and click OK. You can repeat the process to add more calendars from Google to your Outlook.
When you’re done, your appointments will be synchronized in real time so that they show up on both calendars and appear to be the same. You can edit these appointments in both places, too. And changes in either will be reflected in the other, so you won’t have to update multiple calendars if you change something on your PC or smartphone.
Outlook offers more ways to share your calendar with others, including letting you send it in an email message or publish it online to a WebDAV server. However, those methods require other users to have the same version of Outlook as you do, which isn’t always possible.
The free Google Calendar website offers several levels of permission for other users you add to your calendar, from viewing only your availability to editing and inviting others to meetings. Microsoft’s subscription-based Office 365 software also enables you to create collaborative calendars, but these are more complicated than the simple Google Calendar options. In addition, the two platforms differ in terminology and functionality. For example, Google Calendar doesn’t distinguish between appointments and meetings, while the Outlook program does.