Thursday, March 27, 2008
Google Calendar Sync
It has been a while since I have posted. I have been trying to decide exactly where to go with my blog. In the meantime, my colleague and I recently discovered a wonderful tool that you will hopefully find as useful as we did. Many people have found work-arounds to syncing their Outlook and Google calendars for a while. Well, Google has finally created an official way to do it. Announcing Google Calendar Sync!
I work in an environment in which there are five library team members: two librarians and three library staff. The other librarian and I are constantly in and out of the office in meetings and instruction sessions and the other team members have appointments and meetings, as well. We do not have an administrative assistant who keeps up with where we are throughout the day, so we needed some kind of tool to help keep us organized so I could keep track of appointments, sick and vacations days, and so the other team members would know where the librarians were if that information was needed. We wanted to find a way to create a shared calendar for our team that was accessible via the web but that would sync with all of our Outlook calendars. We couldn't seem to find a simple way to do this with Outlook. So, we turned to Google. While there have been ways to do this in the past that weren't too complicated, it was exciting to find that Google had finally released their own tool that would sync one way or both ways. This works perfectly for us! We each created personal calendars that we sync with our Outlook calendars. Next, I created a separate "Work Calendar" for our team; then, I "shared" this calendar with each team member. This is not a public calendar since it may contain personal appointments that we want our team members to know about, but not the world. We can add appointments to this calendar in Google or in Outlook. Since it syncs both ways, the appointments will show up in both calendars. There is an advantage to adding events and appointments in Google: there is an option when editing an event's details to copy to another calendar. This makes it very easy to not only add it to one calendar, but to then copy it to a second calendar. (In our case, we copy it to the team's Work Calendar.) So, when we are in Google, we can add an appointment to our personal calendar, and then choose to copy it straight to the Work Calendar so we share it with our colleagues.
What we discovered, though, is that to make your Work Calendar events appear on your Google calendar, you need to make sure that 1) you are using the Google account that is affiliated with the same account as your work email address. We found that not all of our appointments and events were being added to our Google calendar when we were trying to sync our Outlook calendar with a Google calendar affiliated with our Gmail accounts. 2) You can only sync your Outlook calendar with your Primary Google calendar. If you are like me, you have more than one Google Calendar. Make sure you are dedicating your appointments and main events to the first calendar on your list of calendars in Google. That is the one it will sync with your Outlook calendar.
I hope this all makes sense. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. I am no expert, but I can share our experiences. Happy Syncing!