The sparse, ultra-simplified Calendar app for iOS is so simple, you may find yourself scratching your head when it comes to performing the most basic of tasks—like, you know, checking which appointments you have on a given day.
Indeed, sharing a calendar with a friend can be something of a puzzle until you know which tiny, nondescript button to tap—same goes for seeing the entire week at a glance, viewing a list of all your upcoming events, or changing the color of a specific calendar.
Read on for ten tips that’ll help you get your bearings with Calendar, as well as a few advanced pointers on setting default alert times, dealing with time-zone changes, syncing a non-iCloud calendar, and more.
1. Switch between daily and “list” view
If you tap on a date in Calendar on your iPhone, you’ll get an expanded view of your daily appointments—just scroll up and down to see which hours are free and which are booked, with each event color-coded depending on the calendar to which it’s assigned. Swipe back and forth to see the next day or the last, or tap the Back button to see your entire month.
All well and good, but iPhone users familiar with older versions of Calendar often ask what happened to the handy “list” view—the one that let you see all your upcoming events in a compact, at-a-glance list. A flick of your fingertip used to let you scroll days, weeks, even months ahead.
Well, good news: Apple didn’t jettison this “list” view from Calendar. Instead, it’s hiding in plain sight.
Meet the List button. In the “day” view, you’ll find the button (which looks like a tiny bulleted list) in the top-right corner of the screen, to the left of the Search button. Tap it, and your upcoming events will be arranged in one big, scrollable list.
Note: There’s no “list” button in the iPad version Calendar—instead, you’ll have to settle for the monthly view, which boasts details for each day’s events.
2. See event details from the month view
The standard month view in Calendars for iPhone offers a blank, rather unhelpful grid of dates—tap one, and you’ll jump to the expanded daily view. Want to see the whole month again? You’ll have to tap the Back button.
That’s the routine, unless you’re hip to the Details button, which—much like the List button—sits unobtrusively next to the Search button in the top corner of the screen.
Tap the Details button, and a list of events for the selected date will slide into view, with the rest of the month still visible. Tap another day of the month, and you’ll see the events for that day. You can even switch months by swiping up and down.
3. See your entire week on your iPhone
The iPad version of the Calendar app has four clearly marked views to choose from: Day, Week, Month, and Year. On an iPhone, the Day, Month and Year views are (relatively) easy to find, but what about the Week view?
Easy—just tilt your iPhone into landscape orientation. When you do, your week will twirl into view, no matter which calendar view you were checking.
4. Drag and drop calendar events
The most obvious way to change the time of an event in Calendar is to tap it and edit its “start” and “end” times, but there’s actually a much easier way.
Just tap and hold an event until it pulses, then drag it anywhere you like in your calendar. You can also grab one of the little handles above or below an event to pad it out or cut it short.
5. Ask Siri to add or change an event
If you want to add or edit a calendar appointment without any tapping at all, just ask Siri.
For example, you can say “Add a meeting to my calendar” or “move my 12:00 p.m. meeting,” and Siri will take care of the rest, asking you to fill in any blanks.
6. Share a calendar with a pal
In just a few taps, you can let any fellow iCloud user view and/or edit any of your calendars. Where do you tap, though?
First, tap the Calendars button at the bottom of the screen to see a list of all your iCloud calendars.
Now, see the little “info” button next to each calendar? Tap one, then tap the “Add Person” link in the “Shared with” section.
Go ahead and add anyone you like—well, anyone with an iCloud account, that is.
Bonus tip: You’ll only see the “Shared with” option for iCloud calendars, not Google or other third-party calendars that you’ve added. That said, you can always share, say, a Google calendar with someone using Google’s own sharing options.
7. Turn off shared calendar alerts
If you share a calendar with someone and give them editing privileges, you’re going to start getting alerts whenever that person adds, edits, or deletes events from your shared calendar. That can be handy if you need reminders of new and nixed appointments, but all those alerts can get pretty annoying—particularly given that they’ll pop up on all your connected iCloud devices.
To turn off alerts for shared events, go back to the Calendars button at the bottom of the screen, tap the “info” button next to the calendar you’ve shared, then flip off the “Show Changes” switch.
8. Change the color of a calendar
Each of your events in Calendar is color-coded depending on which of your various calendars the events were created on. If you’re not happy with the color of a given calendar, there’s an easy fix.
Tap the Calendars link at the bottom of the screen (again), tap the “info” button next to a calendar, then pick a new hue under the Color section.
Note: Nope, you can’t change the color of a Google calendar—don’t ask me why.
9. Set a default alert time
There’s no need to waste precious seconds setting up an alert each and every time you add a Calendar event on your iPhone and iPad. Instead, just set up a default alert time that will apply to each new event going forward.
From the iOS home screen, go to Settings > Mail, Calendars, Contacts, scroll down to the Calendars section, tap “Default Alerts Times,” then pick an option: Anything from five minutes before an event to a full week beforehand.
You can also set up separate default alerts for regular events, birthdays, and all-day events.
10. Start the week whenever you want
According to most Western calendars, Sunday marks the beginning of each week. If for you, though, Monday (or Tuesday, or even Wednesday) feels like the start of your week, no problem.
Go back to the “Mail, Calendars, Contacts” section in the main iOS Settings screen, tap the “Start Week On” setting, then pick a day.
What are some of your favorite Calendar tricks? Let us know in the comments.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices.