All about calendar sharing

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Last week we took a very long look at the workings of Mountain Lion’s Calendar application. This week, we’ll delve into some of the details. Specifically, getting calendars in and out of the application and how to use Calendar with services such as Google and Yahoo.

Export/import business

We’ll get to shared calendars in a bit, but now I’d like to discuss copying calendars and events out of Calendar as well as importing these things into the application.

Copying calendars

You’ve learned how to create calendars and the events within them. But suppose you want to send someone a copy of a calendar or event. It’s easily done.

To create a copy of a specific calendar, make sure the Calendars pane is exposed (click the leather bit’s Calendars button if it isn’t) and select the calendar you want to copy. Now choose File > Export > Export. Seemingly redundant though the command may be, it produces a sheet where you can choose a location for your saved calendar. (A slightly faster avenue is to Control-click, or right-click, on the calendar and choose Export from the resulting menu.) Click the Export button, and you’ve saved your copy.

The resulting file will end with .ics. This indicates that the file is in the iCalendar format, which is a standard file format that most calendar clients can read.

Exporting an event is even easier. Just drag the one you want to copy to the desktop. This file is also in the .ics format, but  it bears a different icon, which hints that it’s a single event rather than a calendar.

You can also produce a copy of all your calendars, including their events and any attached notifications. To do this, choose File > Export > Calendar Archive. By default, when you click Save in the sheet that appears, you’ll produce a file called Calendars and Reminders date and time (where date and time is the date an time presented in this format: 4.25.13 3.45 PM).

Three exported Calendar files: Calendar backup, calendar, and event.

This is not a file in the iCalendar format. Rather, it bears a .icbu extension (an extension is what we call the few letters that follow the period in a file’s name—.jpg, .doc. or .mov, for example). This extension tells us that it’s a Calendar backup file (or an iCal backup file if you’re using an earlier version of the Mac OS). These files can’t be imported by other calendar programs. Only Apple’s iCal and Calendar can import them directly. And while we’re on the subject of importing…

All roads lead to import

Your fellow coach has sent you a copy of the fall-winter-spring-good-lord-doesn’t-this-season-ever-end Pee-Wee soccer schedule. It’s a .ics file and you’d love to bring it into your copy of Calendar. Here’s how.

Launch Calendar, select File > Import > Import, and, in the window that appears, navigate to the file. Click the Import button, and an Add Events window appears. From its pop-up menu you can choose to add the calendar’s events to any calendar already in Calendar’s pane. Or, you can choose to create a new calendar. If you opt for the latter, the calendar will bear its original name. Alternatively, you can drag the calendar file to the Calendar icon in the Dock. Calendar will launch and display the Add Events window. Or drag a calendar into an existing calendar. Or just double-click on the file. All roads lead to import.

You can’t incorporate calendar archive (.icbu) files into existing calendars. If you attempt to import one, you’ll be told that you must replace (and lose) all of your current calendars with the calendars stored in the archive. Why on earth would you choose to do that? If you want an exact copy of your current calendars on another Mac (say a new MacBook Air you’ve purchased for travel) or within another account on your computer, you could simply import a backup file.

Sharing and publishing

It’s hard to argue with the convenience of being able to send someone a copy of your calendar, but suppose you update that calendar. Do you really want to send updates each and every time you make a change to your calendar? Probably not. Thankfully, with the power of calendar sharing and publishing, you don’t have to. Let’s see what these two operations do and how they differ.

Sharing calendars with iCloud

If you’ve followed along with these lessons from the beginning (and if you haven’t, you can start here), you should have an iCloud account by now. One of the many benefits of iCloud is that you can use it to share calendars. And it’s not hard to do.

Add the email addresses of those you want to share a calendar with.

In Calendar choose File > New Calendar > iCloud. A new calendar will appear under the iCloud heading. Enter the events you’d like, and then choose Edit > Share Calendar. In the small window that appears, enter the email addresses of those you want to share the calendar with (separating each address with a comma). Click Done, and a link to your calendar will be sent to those you’ve chosen to share it with. Those sharing it will need an iCloud account to access your calendar.

By default when you share a calendar with someone in this way, they can edit the calendar—add and remove events. However, if you click on the triangle that appears next to their name in the Sharing window, you can choose View Only, which means they can see events added to the calendar but they can’t create events of their own or delete existing events.

Just click the Add Calendar button within an email message to join a shared iCloud calendar.

You’ll also notice the Public Calendar option in this window. If you enable it, a Web address for that calendar appears below. (This is a calendar that can be viewed but not edited.) If you click the Share button, and you can email a link to that calendar, send an iMessage that contains the link, or post the link to your Facebook page.

When the recipient receives this message, all they need to do is click the link and Calendar will open, offering them the opportunity to subscribe to your calendar. If they click Subscribe, a sheet will appear, where they can configure their subscription settings. (Something we’ll get to shortly.)

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