All about calendar sharing

Sharing Google and Yahoo calendars

iCloud presents a distinct advantage to those who want to share calendars with other people: It allows you to do everything in Calendar—create the calendars, choose recipients, and send invitations all from within the Calendar application. In the case of Google calendars, you can view and edit them within Calendar, but you can’t create them. For this you must go to your Gmail page within a Web browser. When you’ve done that, you can view your calendar. You can’t, however, share any of these calendars from within the Calendar application. Again, it’s back to the Gmail site to do that.

With a Yahoo account you can create calendars within the Calendars application. But, as with Google calendars, you can’t share these calendars unless you do so from Yahoo’s site.

Calendar publishing

Calendar publishing sounds suspiciously like calendar sharing but I assure you that they’re completely different things. Publishing, for example, starts with the letter P. There are other differences as well.

To publish a calendar with the Calendar application, that calendar must be created on your Mac rather than in iCloud, Google, or any other service. This is a calendar that you want to share outside of these services.

You’ll need some kind of hosting service to do this. For example, Box.net allows you to publish calendars via its free plan. The process goes something like this.

The Publish sheet.

Sign up for a Box.net account. Create a new calendar on your Mac. (If you don’t have On My Mac as an option when you select File > New Calendar, go to the Accounts preference, disable the Enable This Account option for any iCloud, Yahoo, or Google account you have, and then choose File > New Calendar.) Add a couple of events.

Now select that calendar and choose Edit > Publish Calendar. In the window that appears enter https://www.box.net/dav and then enter the email address and password associated with that account. Click Publish to publish the calendar. You’re then provided with the option to email that link to those you want to share the calendar with. They then receive the email and choose to subscribe, and they’re good to go.

Subscribing to calendars

As promised, we’ll now discuss subscribing to calendars. As you now know, you can subscribe to a calendar via an emailed invitation. You click on the subscription link in the email message, Calendar launches, you then click the Subscribe button, and a sheet appears. Within this sheet you can configure the calendar’s options. You can change its color, choose a location for it (in iCloud or on your Mac, for example), choose to remove any embedded alerts and attachments, and select the auto-refresh interval (every minute, every 5 minutes, every 15 minutes, every hour, every day, or every week). Click OK and the calendar is added to the Calendars pane.

If you aren’t provided with a direct link to a calendar—which automatically starts this process—you can manually add calendar links that you’ve copied from your Web browser or some other source. Choose File > New Calendar Subscription, and, in the sheet that appears, paste the link. Click the Subscribe button and off you go.

As I pointed out in a recent Mac 911 entry, the advantage of adding such a calendar to iCloud is that it will be synced with all devices (iOS devices as well as other computers) that use your Apple ID. You can’t add subscribed calendars to a Google or Yahoo account within Calendar.

You'll see these options when subscribing to a calendar.

Calendars you subscribe to are read-only, meaning that others can’t add or remove events. And that makes sense, given that a lot of these calendars are used for publishing holidays, sports team schedules, concert dates, and release dates for upcoming movies. The San Francisco Giants organization would not look kindly on you were you to turn May 7th’s Phillies matchup into a night game.

Where do you find such calendars? At one time, sites that held calendar repositories for a wide variety of events—holidays from around the world, team schedules, media release dates, and band concert schedules—were all the rage. They no longer are. Most of these sites still exist but their calendars are wildly out of date. Instead you should determine what you’d like a schedule of and then use your Web browser to search for it. Find a link to an “iCal” calendar or a .ics file, and you should be able to easily subscribe to the calendar.

About account delegates

Google and Yahoo allow others to share their calendars with you. Let’s say, for example, your company uses Gmail’s calendars. Within your company Gmail account, you can create your own calendars—a project schedule, a days-off calendar for tracking your time off, and a calendar for keeping track of work-based events that will require you file an expense report for travel and entertainment. When you add that account to Calendars, these calendars will automatically appear under the Google heading in the Calendars pane.

At the same time, your company may choose to share some of its calendars with you—a “who’s taking the day off” calendar, another for scheduling meetings, and yet another for the company software team. These calendars don’t automatically appear in Calendar. But it takes little effort to add them.

Just choose Calendar > Preferences and click the Accounts tab. Select your company Gmail or Yahoo account and click the Delegation tab to the right. Here you’ll see listed any calendars shared with you, along with the privileges you have (read only or read and write). Tick the checkbox next to the calendars you want to view, and they’ll appear in the Calendars pane below a Delegates heading. As members of your company update these calendars, those changes will be pushed to your copy. Likewise, if you have write privileges, any changes you make will affect everyone else’s copy of the calendar. For this reason you want to be careful about adding any “Pie the boss, Friday 2PM” events to this calendar. Save that kind of thing for unshared calendars.

And that wraps up just about everything you need to know about calendars.

Next week: Introducing Contacts

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