How to Share Calendars with Family and Friends

We all forget birthdays and feel guilty for not sending a card on time to a niece or uncle.  We all schedule social activities, tell our significant others, and then are disappointed when they forget and schedule something else.  Sharing common calendars takes a little bit of time to set up, but will provide immeasurable benefits for years to come.  Plus, it’s a subtle way to help your adult children remember Grandma’s birthday!

I recommend using Google calendars because if you’re sharing with others who don’t use Apple products, all they need is a Gmail account.  In other words, Google calendars will work on all smartphones, tablets and computers.  And, thankfully, it’s easy to include a Google calendar in an Apple calendar.  This example is for a family birthday and anniversary calendar.

  1. Log into your Gmail Account.
  2. Click on Calendar in the black bar at the top.
  3. On the left side of your calendar, click on the arrow beside My calendars.
  4. Click on Create new calendar.
  5. Type in a name for your shared calendar.
  6. Click Create calendar button at the bottom.
  7. On the left side, click on My calendars.  You should see your new calendar in the list.
  8. Click on the arrow beside your new calendar.
  9. Click on Create event on this calendar.
  10. Type in a title for the event, such as “Lynn Huffman Birthday”.
  11. Type in or select the date for the current year in the first date box.  It does not matter if the date is in the past.
  12. On the next line, click on the boxes to check All day and Repeat.
  13. Change the information in the Repeat pop-up to this:
  14. Click Done.
  15. Scroll down and click on Add a reminder.
  16. I like to set the first reminder as an email 1 week before the birthday or anniversary to give me time to purchase and mail a card or gift.  If you need a second reminder, you can add that by clicking on Add a reminder again.
  17. Click on  at the top.
  18. Repeat for all the birthdays/anniversaries that you want in this calendar.

Make your Calendar Visually Fun

Google provides meaningful little graphics that you can add to your calendar’s events for fun and to provide instant recognition for the type of event.  For birthdays, you can add a little slice of birthday cake that will show up beside each birthday event and a little heart for anniversaries.  If you’re creating a vacation calendar, there is an airplane, a car and a palm tree to spiff it up.

  1. From your main calendar page, click on the arrow beside My calendars.
  2. Click on Settings.
  3. Click on Labs at the top.
  4. Scroll down and click on Enable beside Event Flair.
  5. Click on Save at the top or bottom.  When you are back on your calendar page, you should see Event flair on the right.
  6. Make certain your calendar is in month view, and click the arrow at the top to get back to January of the current year.  You are systematically going to click on every birthday/anniversary event you created and add graphics.  You only have to do this once, and the graphics will be set for all future years’ events.
  7. Click on the colored bar of the first birthday/anniversary in your calendar.  If there are none in that month, go forward to the next month.
  8. A pop-up box for editing will appear and the Event flair graphics on the right side of your calendar.
  9. Click on the Event flair picture you want to add to the event.  Make certain that All events in the series is checked below the graphics.
  10. Click on the of the pop-up box.
  11. Repeat until you’ve added graphics to each birthday/anniversary for the current year.

Share Your New Calendar With Others

  1. From the main calendar page, click on the right arrow your beside birthday/anniversary calendar.
  2. Click on Share this Calendar.
  3. Do NOT check Make this calendar public.
  4. Enter an email address of someone with whom you want to share the calendar.  If you have the person’s email in your Gmail contacts, it will pop up for you.
  5. Select whether you want the contact to be able to 1) view only, 2) add/edit events, or 3) add/edit and share with others
  6. Enter as many addresses as you’d like for sharing and click Save at the bottom.

If you are sharing with other Gmail addresses or non-Gmail addresses who use Google calendars, they will receive an email notification and see the calendar on their Google calendar with the cute graphics.

If you are sharing with a non-Gmail address that is not a current Google calendar user, you have two options:

  • Select Invite when this question pops up
  • Select Don’t Invite.  Then click on the arrow beside the calendar name.  Click Calendar settings. Scroll down to Private address: and click .  Select and copy the long url address.  Click OK.  Then paste that link into an email and send to your non-Gmail recipients.  With this link, your recipients can include your shared calendar in Apple calendars, Microsoft Outlook calendars, Yahoo calendars, and many others.  They may need to google for instructions for their particular calendar.  Here is a good explanation for including a shared calendar in Microsoft Outlook.  Here is my previous post for including a Google calendar in an Apple calendar.

This wraps up my 5-part series on syncing multiple calendars with multiple users and multiple devices.  Do you have other challenges with digital calendars?  Please share below and I’ll try to help.

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