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Things you should know about Google Calendar

While obviously being a calendar, apart from containing the days of the year and allowing you to add upcoming events, it bares little resemblance to those we hang on our walls,

Google Calendar is one of the core applications in Workspace and Drive. It integrates seamlessly with other core features such as Meet and Chat.

Google Meet is a video conferencing app for up to 100 people using the free version, and 300 users of a business account. Video meetings can be off the cuff or scheduled. View guide

Google Chat allows you to have private one to one or group chats. Either using the Chat app or from your gmail dashboard. View guide

How do I access Calendar?

The full blown version of Calendar is accessible from the app dropdown at the top of any Chrome browser you’re logged into, or from any Drive folder.

A slimmed down version can be accessed from any Drive file you’re editing, without having to open another tab. Allowing you to check your schedule and add upcoming events: video meetings and text chats, one to one or group..

How many calendars can I create?

There is no limit to the number of calendars you can have. You can also overlay them over each other to ensure there’s no clash of events between your work and social life.

All your calendars are listed in the interface sidebar, with hiding or showing them only a click away.

Why do I need multiple calendars?

While it may be convenient for you to see all upcoming events from your business and family life, you may not want to let your coworkers see what’s happening in your private life. Except maybe your holidays.

You have full control over who sees which calendar. Individual calendars can be shared with colleagues, friends and family. Reasons for separate calendars are virtually endless, but here’s just a few of them:

  • Work
  • Birthdays
  • Nights out and parties
  • Sporting and team events
  • School timetable

You can also allow others to add events to your calendar,

Who can see my calendar?

Calendars can be shared with friends, family and colleagues, or published for all to see. Alternatively: you can keep them completely private. Each calendar can be directed at specific people,

You may also allow others to add their own events to any calendar you have given them access to. Alternatively: you may just allow them to view events.

Problems you may encounter with the Calendar app

So far I’ve only encountered one problem with this application, and that is Google itself. I’ve already briefly mentioned the features and how Calendar can be accessed.

The problem lies with the guides. While they do exist, finding them in anything resembling chronological order, is a different story. As with most of their guides, it isn’t unusual to require multiple tabs open when learning the different aspects,

I’ve created this guide to give you a comprehensive insight into all of the features. More than enough to get you started with accessing, creating and sharing your calendars with coworkers, friends and family.

getting started with the Calendar application

Regardless of which app we’re using, all roads lead to the main app, so that’s where I’ll begin. You don’t need the Chrome browser, but you will need a Google account. Even better, if you want to follow along, a second Google account.

Please forgive me if you’re an experienced Google Drive user. Some parts may appear simplistic. But as some people are new to Drive and the concept of cloud computing, I want to make this guide suitable for everyone.

How to open Google Calendar

Once signed into your Google account: if you’re using the Chrome browser, you can get access to all the core applications by clicking on the icon in the top right.

Chrome browser with dropdown open

If you’re using an alternative browser, you’ll need to sign in to your account. There you’ll see the nine dot app icon.

If you’re already signed into Google Drive, the same icon will be visible from any open folder. I’ll deal with accessing the short version of the calendar from files later.

Your first calendars

Once you open Calendar you’ll notice Google has already added the default one, named after the account holder, along with a few others, namely: Birthdays, Reminders, and Tasks.

The default calendars

The checkmark to the left of the calendar listings denotes whether or not the calendar is active. When adding events of any kind, always ensure only the calendar you’re adding the event is checked.

There are a couple of traps for the unwary when adding anything to Tasks and Reminders, which I’ll deal with in a moment. Before that let’s create a new calendar.

Setting the calendar view

This is something you need to understand for the upcoming sections. When opening for the first time, the display will be of 7 days dissected into 24 hourly sections. In the top right of the interface, a dropdown will show the setting.

Opened view options dropdown

Clicking this will allow you to change the view to day, month, year etc. be aware that not all views display upcoming events.

Calendar background colour

in the following images you'll notice I've changed the background colour. This cannot be done directly and requires a Chrome extension to add background images and colours

View one week at a time
Google calendar week by week
View one month at a time
Google calendar month by month

How to view different days, weeks, and months

At the top of your view, next to the date, you see back and forward arrows. I doubt these need explaining. But when using the month view, we can also move to the previous or next month by moving the mouse wheel up or down.

I find this option extremely useful when wanting to see what the future holds. We can view each calendar separately, or open all of them and see all upcoming events from every calendar. All at the same time.

How to create a new named calendar

In the side panel, to the right of Other calendars, click the + sign and select Create new calendar.

popout for adding other calendars

In the popup that appears you can:

  • Name your calendar
  • Add a description
  • Set the time zone
Dialogue box that appears when creating a new calendar

Once you’ve completed these fields, click the blue Create calendar button. Your new calendar will then appear in the listing. Navigate to the main console using the back arrow in the top left

Calendars of interest

Following the same path we used to create a new one, but this time selecting Browse calendars of interest, we see we have access to specific event calendars. The main categories are:

  • Birthdays of people on your contacts list
  • Regional holidays (for your location)
  • Global religious holidays
  • Sports events

How you see these events, if at all, depends on your view setting:

  • Day: Any events that occur on the current day being viewed will appear at the top
  • Week: Events will appear across the top, directly under the date
  • Month: All events for the entire month will be visible from this view. Each on the exact day
  • Year: No, or only a few events will be shown in this view

Note: the no show in the year view only applies to calendars of interest. In the default ones, and those you create from scratch, events will be denoted by a coloured dot which you can hover over and click to expand,

Hopefully you’re beginning to get the hang of it. Now let’s start adding some events of our own.

How to add events, reminders, tasks, and video meetings to Google calendar

Anything that can be scheduled can be added to a calendar and shared with relevant parties. This includes: video conferences, chats, meetings, and parties.

Before we get too deep, there’s something I want to discuss concerning two of the default calendars that Google provides: Reminders and Tasks.

Being aware of this will likely save you a lot of head scratching later and concerns how some events are added to calendars. It may help if you open a calendar and follow along.

How to add an event to a Google calendar

Make sure you’re in the ‘week’ view and uncheck all calendars apart from the top one which will be named after the account holder.

Left-click on a time slot and add a title. Nothing serious, we can delete it later.

popup when adding an event

Several things to note about the image above: the two tabs below the name input field. The Event, is for adding any event, including video, and will be added to the named, main calendar.

If we click the Task, whatever we add here will only show on the task calendar, not on the main one. Our list of options will also differ.

//img task-to-main
popout that appears when the tasks calwndar is open and a time slot has been clicked on

I don’t know why we can’t add reminders in the same way, but at least let’s be aware of this behaviour.

Adding events and tasks to your calendar

You may think if we closed our main, and opened our tasks calendar, then added an event, the new event would appear on the tasks. However: this is not the case.

Close the event calendar and open your main calendar, and you’ll see it appears on that one.

The process and outcome is exactly the same as we experienced when adding to our main calendar.

Adding reminders, events and tasks to your calendar

Make sure only your Reminders calendar is open. Then click on a time slot.

popout that appears when the reminders calendar is open and a time slot has been clicked on

With the Reminders calendar open, we notice three tabs below the title input field. Thinking logically: we should have these three tabs available on all three calendar views, but we don’t.

Events will still be added to the main calendar. While tasks and reminders will be added to their respective ones.

Even if you have the reminders calendar open, and then click the Task tab, it will show up on the tasks calendar.

You may be wondering if we can add events, tasks, and reminders to the same calendar. Maybe one we want to publish or share. I’m going to discuss that next.

Adding events and tasks to your own calendar

Out of the box, we can add events to a calendar we’ve created ourselves, but not tasks or reminders. However: there is a workaround which I’ll cover in the following section.

Events can be anything: video meetings, meet-ups, or notice of when company policy changes come into effect.

When we add an event to a calendar we’ve created ourselves, it remains on that calendar and isn’t listed on our main default one.

How to add a video meeting to your calendar

If you’re using the calendar app, then you already have access to Google Meet. I’m not going to go into detail about using it, as I’ve already covered that in the previous guide.

For now all I want to do is create a calendar event in the form of a video conference. As this is best done by adding it to a shared calendar, I would advise against adding it to your main one.

Instead: add it to a specific calendar that you’ve created to share with others. Then all we have to do is invite others, which I’ll be covering in the next section.

When clicking on a time slot, in the popup we notice the option to Add Google Meet video conferencing. After clicking this we then get the option to Join with Google Meet.

Option to join meet

Beneath this is a link to the video. Anyone one who has access to this calendar can request to join the conference. This link can be copied and pasted to social media, but note anyone with the link can request to join.

Now we’re familiar with adding events, tasks, reminders, and meetings, let’s have a look at how we can fine tune who can access and edit our calendars and events.

Calendar sharing and restrictions settings

This is another area where the possibility for confusion arises. Setting options differ between the main calendar and the other default calendars: Tasks and Reminders.

The settings for calendars we create ourselves have similar settings to our main calendar. Let’s begin with the main calendar.

In the side panel, hover over the top calendar and click on the three vertical dots that appear. This will allow you to change the colour of the checkbox and access the Settings area for your default calendars.

Options to open calendar settings and colour palette to change checkbox colour

As the settings area contains several dialogue boxes, I’m going to review them one at a time. Clicking Settings and sharing will open up the settings window.

If you haven’t set a background colour or image, the sections will be identifiable by their headings. If you have, they’ll be denoted by shaded boxes.

 settings area with plain background
 settings area with coloured background

The first box allows us to change the name, add a description, and set the time zone.

Claendar settings where the name and description can be added

After renaming it to ‘Main’, it will appear as that in the listings in the main console.

View of calendar list when a calendar name has been changed

Access permissions for events

The next settings box allows us to make our calendar public and let anyone access it. Why this feature exists at all is a mystery. A quick look at what it allows will explain what I mean.

  • Delete the calendar
  • Share it with others
  • Edit or create events
  • Respond to invites
  • Receive email notifications when any changes are made

After allowing this feature, you’ll then have the options to allow others to see the actual events, or simply to show you’re busy.

Access event options

Share with specific people

Here’s where, by limiting who has access, normality resumes. This option allows us to type email addresses and add people from our contacts. After adding people we can then set permissions.

share with specific people in calendar settings

In the Share with specific people area. Click Add people. After adding at least one person a new dropdown will appear, which allows us to set permissions, as the image below shows, these include:

  • See only free and busy without the event details
  • See all events’ details
  • Add and make changes to events
  • Make changes and manage sharing
Privilege options when sharing with specific people

This provides us with much better control than publishing for all.

Event notifications

Event notifications in the calendar settings

Two areas where we can notify people of events they are invited to: Time restricted and All day.

We can set multiple notifications for the same event, of which they are two types: email and alert. The latter requires that participants have the actual calendar open.

Personally I wouldn’t choose just one, instead I prefer to set both. You can change the notification type and type, or use the default settings

Other notifications

If we’re allowing others to add or edit events, we can also receive notifications when changes are made, but only via email. The image below shows which notifications we can subscribe to.

Optoins for adding other notificatoin methods

In case you can’t see the notifications on the image, here’s a list of them:

  • New events
  • Changed events
  • Cancelled events
  • Event responses
  • Daily agenda