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The Ultimate Guide to Apple Calendar

As the default calendar app for MacOS and iOS, Apple Calendar requires almost no effort on the user’s end when it comes to scheduling. Without doing anything more than creating a single entry on your smartphone, tablet, computer or smartwatch, you can keep track of all your meetings, appointments and events across all devices. You can also view and update your calendar events from any device through iCloud.

Because of its convenience, ease of use and simplicity, the Apple Calendar app is widely used by Apple users across the globe. Its handy features such as the ability to set travel time, create reminders, set a location and invite other participants elevate this tool to something more than just a digital version of the standard wall calendar. However, the simple nature of it makes it more ideal for everyday users who need to schedule doctor appointments, soccer practices and pickup times rather than busy professionals who need to juggle multiple meetings with multiple participants at once.

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How To Setup Apple Calendar

Setting up iCal is easy, as it’s the default scheduling tool on all your Mac devices. Simply navigate to the bottom of your computer screen to find the miniature calendar. If you’re on your phone or tablet, the app should pop up on the first screen, but if not, swipe over. You may want to check your folders or pull up your launchpad if you still cannot locate the tool.

Once you find the app, click on it. It will open to the current month. You can change the view you automatically pull up to the current week or even the current day by going through the “Preferences.”


Before you begin to use iCal, change your preferences so that you can tailor it to suit your exact needs. To do this, navigate to the drop-down menu and select “Preferences.” From there, you will be able to navigate to four pages. The first page, “General,” offers several ways to customize your calendar.

Choose the Start of the Week

iCal automatically defaults the start of the week to Sunday, but the start of the week is different for many people. For instance, most people consider Monday the week’s beginning, while others may not begin working until Tuesday or even Saturday. Through the “Preferences” section, you can change the day you would like to pop up first.

Set the Time You Want Your Day To Begin

In addition to allowing you to choose when your week begins, you can also modify your calendar view to begin when your day typically does. Apple apparently begins its day at midnight, but considering you’re unlikely to be taking appointments any time before 8 a.m., you may wish to change the time to 7 a.m., 8 a.m. or even 9 a.m. Don’t forget to set your day’s end, either, that way you can keep anyone who has access to your iCal from scheduling meetings during family time.

Select the Number of Days You Want To Show

Do you want to see a week view? A two-week view? A 21-day overview? Through the “General” tab, you can choose how many days you’d like to glimpse in advance. Unfortunately, you cannot remove days from the lineup, but you can minimize your view to just seven days. For many people, this is sufficient.

Select Your Preferred Calendar

In the second tab, you can select which calendar you would like to take precedence. While this may seem confusing at first — After all, isn’t iCal your only calendar? — bear in mind that most digital calendar apps allow you to build multiple schedules. For instance, you may have a work schedule that you share with your colleagues and a personal schedule that you use to organize doctor’s appointments, school plays and gym time. By placing your events into particular calendars, you can limit who can see them.

The following sections explain more in-depth how you can create multiple schedules and share the availability of each across multiple platforms, as well as how you can import other calendars from platforms you’re already using.

If you have other calendars you prefer to use over iCal, you can even set those calendars as your default. In the General section, choose the calendar you wish to be your main display. If you have multiple calendars, iCal will automatically import events from each. However, if you don’t want to see every event from every calendar you use, use the second tab to check and uncheck calendars. If you later change your mind and want to see events from, say, your personal schedule, you can always go back into “Preferences” and reselect that agenda.

Set Alerts

The alerts are probably the most sophisticated aspect of iCal. “Alerts” are a lot like notifications, as they remind you of upcoming events. “Alerts” make it so you no longer have an excuse for missing that dreaded dentists appointment, or for being late to the weekly team meetings.

If you already use iCal, then you know you can set notifications for an event as far as one week in advance. Intervals for alerts include five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, one day, two days and one week. If you want, you can select all nine intervals. In addition to reminders, you can even set travel time. If you do set a travel time, you can set alerts to notify you of when you need to leave. Both these features are handy if you’re constantly running late, or if you need at least an hour ahead of traveling to get dressed and ready for an event. Bear in mind, however, that the type of alerts you can use vary depending on the calendar you set as your default.

Setting alerts is fairly straightforward. When you create an event through iCal (which you can do by tapping the + icon in the top right corner), you’ll be brought to a screen of prompts. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see the various types of notifications you can use. Just select those that apply to your situation.

Advanced Settings

As you may have gathered, there is not much that is “advanced” about iCal. However, the app still offers “Advanced Settings,” as most of Apple’s apps do. Most of the settings within this final tab are fairly basic.

There’s the time zone support setting, which proves to be helpful if you’re scheduling events across multiple time zones. You also have the ability to view events across an entire year. Though you may have a hard time making out what each of those events are, this feature is helpful to know which days, weeks and months you have available if you’re someone who plans far in advance.

If you want to count down to something such as, say, your company’s annual retreat, you can label each week with a number. Additional features include the ability to ask before sending changes to an event, as well as the ability to open an event to its own screen, which grants you to clearly read all of the event’s details.

The final advanced feature is probably the most “advanced” iCal has to offer, and it’s pretty helpful. When you sync your email accounts to your devices, iCal will automatically retrieve invites that you receive and respond to via email, social media or online. Unless you uncheck the event, it will go into your calendar and alert you when the event is coming up. Some people find this feature a little creepy, as they don’t recall receiving the invite or inputting it into their calendar. However, for those who regularly receive digital invitations, the automatic input is helpful, as it ensures no event goes forgotten.


How To Share Apple Calendar

If you want to share your availability but not grant access to others to make changes to events, navigate to the top left of your screen (if you’re using your desktop or laptop calendar) and click “Calendars.” A sidebar will pop up with the list of all your calendars. When you hover over your cloud-based calendars, you will notice a broadcast icon. Click that icon.

Once you click the icon, you will be given the chance to share the calendar. Before you do, enter the names or email addresses of those you want to join. The invitees will receive an email with a “Join Calendar” button. Once they accept, you will receive a notification. Bear in mind that to share a calendar or event privately, an invitee must have an Apple ID and be an iCloud user.

If you don’t want invitees to be able to change events, you must scroll through each name or email address and change their status from “Shared With” to “View Only.” This is an important step if you don’t want other parties to intentionally or accidentally mess with your appointments.

You also have the choice to make your calendar “Public.” This option does not allow you to choose who CANNOT see your events, which means everyone in your contacts is likely to have access to your calendar. It is unlikely that you want to broadcast your goings-on with everyone from your boss to your mother, so chances are you’ll be taking advantage of the first option.

To share calendars or events via your smartphone, click “Calendars” in the bottom center of your screen. Click on the information icon to bring up additional options, such as with whom you can share your calendar. At the top, you will see a section that lets you “Add People.” Use this tab to share with select individuals. If you want to share with the public, scroll to the bottom and turn the “Public Calendar” to On.

When you make an iCal event “Public,” you can still select certain individuals to which you want to send invites. Enter the names or email addresses of chosen participants. When you click “OK,” a link to the calendar’s URL will be sent via email. Recipients can open and respond to it regardless of whether or not they have an Apple ID or are an iCloud user.


How To Send an Apple Calendar Invite

You can add invitees to an Apple Calendar event either when you create the event or any time leading up to the event. If you want to add people when creating the event, click on the + icon to create the event. The screen will have several prompts, including places in which you can name the event, select the location and set the time of the event. After you set the travel time but before you set the alerts, you’ll see a section where you can add invitees. Click it.

Once you click “Invitees,” you’ll be taken to another screen where you can add the names and email addresses of any person you wish you to invite. True to Apple form, your phone or computer will begin to automatically search for contacts with the characters you enter. For instance, if you want to invite “Christina,” your phone is likely to pull her name up after you input “Ch.” Though a neat trick, be aware that if you hit Return before Apple has located the contact, the intended invitee will not receive the invitation. Let your device find the match before you move on to the next contact.

Apple utilizes dozens of algorithms designed to make your life easier. One such algorithm is to associate certain individuals with others in your contact and email databases. Once you input two to three names, your phone will start suggesting others for you. For instance, if you invite your marketing manager and web developer, Apple Calendar may ask if you simply want to invite your whole team. You can use this feature to your advantage if you regularly invite the same people to events. Create a “Group” within your contacts or email to make life even easier so that you can simply invite the whole group.

Another way you can add invitees to an event is by dragging and dropping participants’ names from your contacts to the event. Open your “Address Panel,” scroll through the list and drag and drop the names of people you wish to include. Going this route, however, is much more time consuming than the former method, so you may just want to start typing and let your device do the rest for you.

Check the Availability of Invitees

Another handy feature of iCal is the ability to check the availability of event invitees ahead of time. Once you share your calendar, you should notice a new option that reads, “Check Availability.” Once you click that button, you will not have access to invitees’ calendars, but you will be able to see if they are busy or free on the date and time you chose. If several attendees are busy during the selected time, you can drag the event to different dates and times to see which would work best. If you’re struggling to find a time slot that works best for everyone, you may have the option to click “Next Available Time.” Bear in mind that this feature is only available to individuals who regularly share their calendars with one another.

Check the Status of Invites

Want to know who for sure is coming and who can’t make it? Right above the “View” button, you’ll be able to see the various responses you get. If you want to see who specifically can make it and who cannot, click on the event.

How to Add Apple Calendar To iPhone

With iCal, you don’t have to worry about having to add it to your iPhone, as it’s Apple’s default scheduling tool. In fact, it’s one of the few apps on your phone that you cannot delete, along with the clock, photos and camera.

How To Delete an Apple Calendar

If you have a calendar in your iCal that has become obsolete, you may wish to delete it. To do so, go to “Calendars” and select the calendar you wish to delete from the list. Open the Edit menu, then choose “Delete.” In most cases, the calendar will disappear.

However, if you delegated the calendar to others, the schedule will not disappear until you have removed those delegations. To remove delegations, open “Calendar,” go to “Preferences” and then choose “Accounts.” Find the calendar you want to delete and select it. From there, you will have a visual of all the people who share the agenda. Go through and hit the (–) icon next to each name. Only once all delegations have been removed will you be able to go back and delete the calendar.

Before you delete a schedule, make absolute sure that it’s what you want to do. Once you delete an agenda, all the events on it will disappear. You should also double check with the delegates to make sure they don’t need to copy over events from the obsolete calendar to a new calendar before you remove their names. If you decide that you want to keep the calendar but don’t want to view its events or receive notifications from it, you can always hide it.

How To Add an Apple Calendar to Outlook

Unfortunately, Outlook for Mac does not currently support CardDAV or CalDAV internet standards, which means your Apple Calendar will not automatically sync with your Outlook calendar simply because you enter your iCloud email address. However, you can manually sync the two through the web. To do this, follow these eight steps:

  1. Open a new window and sign in to your iCloud account.
  2. Once in, click on “Calendar.”
  3. Find the calendar you want to sync with Outlook and click the “Share Calendar” icon. Make sure that you turn on the “Public” option.
  4. Once you make the calendar public, a URL should pop up. This URL is the link for your Apple Calendar. Copy this link.
  5. Open a second browser window. Go to Outlook.com and sign in.
  6. Once you’re logged into your account, find the calendar icon at the bottom of the navigation pane. Select it.
  7. From there, click “Add Calendar” à “From Internet.”
  8. Outlook will show you a calendar subscription dialogue box. Paste the link you copied in step 4 into the box. If you want to be able to easily locate it, give it a unique name. Click “Save.”

Once you complete step eight, you should see your iCloud calendar listed along with the other synced calendars in your Outlook account. Give it a few minutes to pop up in Outlook for Mac, however. If it does not pop up, you may have to restart your computer.


How To Add Outlook Calendar to Apple Calendar

Download iCloud

To add Outlook to Apple, you will need to download iCloud onto your computer. If you use a Mac laptop or desktop, iCloud should already be installed. If not, you can download either the iCloud Control Panel for Windows or the iCloud app via Apple’s website or the Microsoft Store. Though the functionalities of the control panel and app vary slightly, they both essentially get the job done.

If you opt for the control panel, go to Apple’s Download iCloud for Windows website and click “Download.” Once the download is complete, install it. After installation, hit Start. Move the iCloud folder into the Apps menu and open it. The process for downloading the app is more or less the same. However, instead of grabbing the control panel from Apple’s website, you would download it from the Microsoft Store.

Sign In

Once you download iCloud onto your desktop, sign in using your Apple ID and password. When the iCloud window brings you to your apps, you have your choice of which you want to sync and which you want to leave alone. Make sure to check Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks for Outlook. Click “Apply.”

Ready Your Phone

Before you can sync your calendars, you need to make sure your phone is in agreeance. Go to “Settings” and click your name at the top. Click “iCloud” and make sure “Calendars” is turned to On. Exit the screen.

Upload Calendars

Switch back to your desktop. In the iCloud screen, you’ll be asked if you want to upload your contacts, tasks and calendars to iCloud. You also have the choice of which contacts, tasks and calendars you want to sync. You can choose “All” or “Some.” Click “Some.”

From there, you can deselect which items you do not want to sync. Once you’re done with your selections, click “Continue.” Close iCloud and allow the synchronization to run. Open both Microsoft Outlook on your desktop and iCal on your phone to ensure the two are in sync.

Apple Calendar Frequently Asked Questions

How to add reminders to Apple calendar

You can set reminders in one of two ways via your Apple device. The first is explained in the How To Setup Apple Calendar section, Set Alerts. Go to the event, scroll down and set alerts for five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, one day, two days and/or one-week intervals. However, if you think of something on the fly that you need to do next week but that doesn’t necessarily require an event, you can use the Reminders app.

Reminders is another default app on Apple’s devices. The icon looks like a little notebook, but with little colorful dots along the left. Once you open the app, you will see four options: Today, Scheduled, All and My Lists. Under My Lists you will see “Reminders.” Click “Reminders,” and then click “+ New Reminder.” You can input the name of the event or task and have your phone alert you on a particular day, when you’re at a particular location or even when you get in or out of your vehicle. You can also prioritize tasks with “Low,” “Medium” or “High” settings, and add reminders to certain lists. For instance, you may have a worklist, kids list and personal to-do list.

Reminders are cool because they allow you to check off to-dos as you complete them. This allows you to better organize your tasks and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you check each one off.

How to add tasks to Apple calendar

Though you cannot add specific to-dos to your Apple calendar (unless, of course, you make an event), you can create a Reminder by using the steps above. Reminders will sync to your Apple Calendar so long as you have it turned on to do so. To double-check, go to “Settings” à “Your Name”à “iCloud.” Scroll down to make sure that “Reminders” is turned to On. If it is, Reminders will sync to your calendar across all devices that use both iCal and iCloud.

How to delete an Apple calendar

To delete a schedule for your Apple Calendar, go to “Calendar,” choose the calendar you want to get rid of and open the Edit menu. From there, you will have the option to delete. However, your device will not let you delete an agenda that has associated delegations. If you granted access to one other or multiple individuals, you must open “Preferences” within the calendar app and then select “Accounts.” Choose the schedule you want to delete to view all its delegations. Go through and click the (-) symbol next to each delegation. Once you have deleted all delegations, go back to remove the calendar.

How to add .ics to Apple calendar

.ics files are files created for Apple calendars, so you don’t need to do much to add them to your schedule. If you receive a digital invitation via your phone or email, chances are it’s an .ics. If you respond to the invitation in any way — meaning your “Accept,” “Maybe” or “Decline” — the event will be added to your calendar. You may have noticed this when you responded to events on Facebook or via another social media site.

How to add people to Apple calendar

There are two ways you can share an Apple Calendar — privately or publicly. If you want to share a calendar privately, the invitees must have an Apple ID and use the iCloud. Once you confirm that they do, use the following steps:

  1. In the Calendar app, click “Calendars” and choose the calendar you would like to share. If you’re on your desktop, hover over the name of the calendar and a broadcast icon should pop up. Click it, then select private calendar. If you’re on a mobile device, click the information icon.
  2. Regardless of the type of device you’re using, you will then be prompted to enter invitees’ names or email addresses. Press return after you enter each one. As explained in the section, How To Setup Apple Calendar, How To Share Apple Calendar, Apple will try to locate the invitee’s name before you finish typing it. If you want to take advantage of this feature, be sure you click the suggestion your device gives you, otherwise the person will not receive his or her invitation.
  3. Once you’ve selected all the invitees’ names, be sure the set their access privileges (“View Only” or “View & Edit”). To do this, you must go through each invitee and change their status from “Shared With” to “View Only.”
  4. Once everyone’s privileges are set, click OK. Your synced email account will automatically send email invites to participants.

Making the event public requires considerably fewer steps. However, most people choose not to make their events public, as this means everyone who has the host as a contact will have access to it. If going public is what you want to do, click “Calendars” and navigate to the bottom of your screen. Turn “Public Calendar” to On.

When you make a calendar public, you also have the choice to select invitees. Invitees are the only ones who will receive an email notification. When you make an event public, the invitees do not have to have an Apple ID to view and respond to the invitation.

How to sync Apple Calendar with iPhone

Apple Calendar is the default calendar on all Apple devices, including the iPhone. You do not have to take any extra measures to install iCal onto your smartphone device. However, if you want to tailor your calendar to your unique scheduling needs, follow the instructions in the section, How To Setup Apple Calendar.

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