DEV Community

Cover image for How to Share Google Calendar: Manage Multiple Calendars & Defend Your Availability
Kristi Anderson
Kristi Anderson

Posted on

How to Share Google Calendar: Manage Multiple Calendars & Defend Your Availability

Many of us are managing several calendars --- a work calendar, a personal calendar, maybe even one for your family, or a side gig. Viewing them all in one place can be challenging, especially when they live on different platforms.

On top of that, simply sharing your calendar won't effectively defend your actual availability. So it's tough for busy professionals to avoid double-booking --- spinning into days-long games of email/Slack tag. But it doesn't have to be a headache!

We'll show you how to share any Outlook, Google, or iCloud Calendar with your Google Calendar, making it possible to manage all your events in one place. Then we'll cover how to actually block your availability for events from other calendars to make scheduling a breeze and ensure you don't get double-booked.

Table of contents

Google shared calendars: What they are and why they're insufficient

There are essentially two categories of calendars in Google Calendar: primary and secondary calendars. Shared calendars are a subset of secondary calendars.

Primary, secondary, and shared calendars

Your primary calendar is the account you're currently logged in with in your calendar app or your browser, and the first calendar you'll see in the list of calendars when you open up Google Calendar under "My calendars." It's where all your events will be created on your calendar by default, and is the calendar that folks will see when they go to book time with you using Google's Find a Time feature.

All other calendars are secondary. Secondary calendars can be either shared calendars or additional calendars that you've created on your Google account that may or may not be shared.

Shared calendars are a type of secondary calendar that has been shared with your Google account.

Any events on secondary calendars will appear overlaid on your primary calendar. But if others go to book time with you using Google's Find a Time feature, they don't see any of your time blocked for events from those secondary calendars. They'll *only *see events on your primary calendar.

The problem with traditional calendar sharing

Sharing calendars is essential for time management, but sharing alone is impractical for defending your time without a massive headache.

  1. No privacy between work and personal calendars: You could invite your work email to personal events, but now your personal events are on your work calendar for everyone to see.
  2. Difficult to maintain: Even if you create a copy of your personal appointment to your work calendar, it's tricky to maintain because any changes to the original event won't get synced.
  3. Doesn't prevent double-booking: Even if you share your personal calendar with the people at your work, they won't see your personal events when they use Google's Find a Time feature. So you're still at risk of overscheduling.

So how do you defend your time and share your actual availability?

We recommend using a combination of shared calendars and smart calendar syncing.

  1. Start by sharing your calendars across your own accounts, following the instructions below so that you have complete visibility and access to all your events.
  2. Then use smart calendar syncing to block time on the calendars you share with others to avoid double-booking and maintain privacy.

How to share Google Calendar with another Google Calendar

Sharing a Google Calendar is straightforward. The Google Calendar app for mobile currently does not have the share function, so you'll need to head to a browser on your computer.

  1. Open Google Calendar and expand the My calendars section using the down arrow on the left sidebar.
  2. You'll see all the calendars you have active on your account: your [name] calendar, possibly alongside other generic preset calendars like "Reminders," "Birthdays," and "Tasks." Those are secondary calendars that others will not see if you share your primary calendar with them.
  3. Hover over the name of the calendar you want to share and click the three dots that appear next to it.
  4. Select Settings and sharing
  5. Click Share with specific people
  6. Add the email address of the Google account you'd like to share your calendar with. (We'll cover specific sharing details below about how others see your calendar when it's shared with them.)

If you're sharing your work calendar, sometimes your IT administrator might have locked down sharing. If you're unable to share your calendar, you might need to contact them.

Create a new secondary Google Calendar without creating a new account

Sometimes you need an additional calendar --- maybe an "OOO / PTO" calendar for your whole team, or a content calendar to plan out your publishing schedule. You can create a new secondary calendar in Google without creating a new account.

  1. With your Google Calendar still open, find the Other calendars section under My calendars on the left side.
  2. Click the plus mark.
  3. Select Create new calendar from the pop-up menu.
  4. Give your calendar a name. A description isn't necessary, but you can add something there if you like.
  5. Then, click Create calendar.

Nice! Your new calendar will be visible in the left sidebar in your calendars list.

How to share Google Calendar with an Outlook Calendar

Sharing your Microsoft Outlook Calendar with a Google Calendar is also easy from your desktop:

  1. Click the Share button in Microsoft Calendar.
  2. Type in your Google email address and hit the "Enter" key.
  3. Select the level of access you'd like recipients to have.
  4. Hit Share. You can modify sharing access at any time from the Currently sharing with field.
  5. Then head to your Gmail account and accept the shared calendar invitation.

Now your Outlook Calendar will be visible in your calendars list on the left sidebar of your Google Calendar.

Like with any work calendar, sharing could be blocked by your organization. If you're unable to share your Outlook Calendar, contact your IT admin.

How to share Google Calendar with an iCloud Calendar

If you're using an Apple Calendar connected to iCloud, you can share it with your Google Calendar by making a public URL.

From the iCloud Calendar app:

  1. Click the share option in your iCloud Calendar to the right of the calendar title in the left toolbar.
  2. Tick the checkbox next to Public Calendar to generate a calendar URL.
  3. Now, you can either send an email link to your Google account or simply copy the link to paste it directly into your Google Calendar.
  4. If you emailed it to yourself, accept the invite from the notification that just arrived in your Gmail account.
  5. If you copied the link, head to your Google Calendar and click the plus mark next to Other calendars in the left sidebar.
  6. Select From URL.
  7. Paste the URL and click Add calendar.

You're done! Your iCloud Calendar will now be visible in your list of calendars.

Note: This makes your iCloud Calendar public. Anyone you give the URL to will be able to see your calendar. So take note of anyone else you share your calendar link with.

How to share a calendar via a URL with your Google Calendar

You can share a calendar from any source with your Google Calendar if you have a shareable link. The instructions are easy and identical to the last few steps of sharing your iCloud Calendar:

  1. Copy the link you want to share with your Google account and head to your Google Calendar.
  2. Click the plus mark next to Other calendars in the left sidebar.
  3. Select From URL.
  4. Paste the URL and click Add calendar.

Easy as pie!

How to set privacy and visibility settings for your Google Calendar when sharing with others

Now that you've shared all your other calendars with your Google Calendar, it's important to understand how other people see your events when you add people to any shared calendar.

When you set sharing settings, these settings will apply to everyone you've shared your calendar with. So if you're sharing a calendar with yourself (i.e., another one of your other accounts) as well as others, the settings you choose will determine how the calendar displays to you (when logged into your other account) and other people.

So, you have to share all details and sacrifice privacy, or share nothing and sacrifice context. Fortunately, as we'll show at the very end of this post, there is an in-between option to show some context and still defend your time if you sync your calendars using Reclaim.

To set your Google Calendar privacy settings:

  1. Click the three dots beside the calendar being shared.
  2. Select Settings and sharing.
  3. Manage public and organization-wide sharing under Access permissions for events:
  4. You'll see one to three checkboxes depending on your account. Personal Google accounts tend only to have "Make available to public," while GSuite accounts have a couple of extra options. Most notably, "Make available for [organization]."
  5. From the drop-down menu on the right, choose the level of detail you want to share with your colleagues:**

    See only free/busy (hide details): This allows people to see that there's an event on your calendar, but they can't see any event details. It will just show "free" or "busy" as the event title.\
    See all event details: People who can see your calendar can see full event details, including event name, attendees, description, location, and any meeting links.\
    Make changes to events: People with this level of access can see and edit all details for the events on your calendar. They can edit the title, timing, duration, description, location, video conferencing details, and invite other people to your events. The only thing they can't do is share your calendar with anyone else.\
    Make changes and manage sharing:* The user you're sharing with can see and edit details for all your events, *and they can share your calendar with other people.\

  6. Manage sharing with individuals by scrolling down to the Share with specific people section.

  7. Adjust your sharing settings. Here you'll see any individuals you've shared your calendar with, including your other accounts. You'll have the same sharing options here as you did at the organizational level.

  8. I always like to give my other personal accounts full access to make changes and manage sharing, so I can manage my accounts wherever I'm logged in.

Some of these permission settings may be locked by your administrator. So contact them if there's a reason to make an exception to the company policy.

An important note: any calendar that you share with your Google Workspace account in your organization can be seen by an IT administrator, even if you don't share it with them explicitly. This is a lesser-known feature of Google Workspace, and there isn't currently a way to turn it off. So: share cautiously! It's rare, but sometimes companies will even designate managers (e.g., your boss) as Google administrators, which theoretically gives them permission to spy on your shared calendars. The last thing you want is for them to see "Job Interview" on your calendar.

Another important note: sharing a calendar with your Google account doesn't block events on your primary calendar. If one of your coworkers searches for your availability using the "Find People" or "Find a Time" tool, they'll only see your primary work calendar, not any other calendars that you've shared, even if you're explicitly shared it with them. So if you want to maintain privacy and actually block your availability on your primary calendar, you still have one more step to go: sync your calendars using Reclaim.

Start scheduling smart with Reclaim's Calendar Sync

Now you have complete visibility into your schedule and can manage your calendars across accounts. But how do you truly block your availability for seamless scheduling with others and avoid double-booked meetings? It's all about smart calendar syncing.

Set up your calendar to do the heavy lifting for you with Reclaim's Calendar Sync. Calendar Sync automatically blocks events on your primary calendar from whatever secondary calendars you choose while keeping your synced events up to date when they change.

It solves the privacy issue by allowing you to set custom visibility for your synced events. Don't want people spying on your doctor's appointment or job interview? Just set your privacy settings to display events from your personal calendar as "Busy" or "Personal Commitment."

Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 14.40.06.png

Your time is blocked without sharing the context you don't want to share. It's really the only way to share your availability accurately while maintaining privacy where you want it.

Calendar Sync is free forever at Reclaim between one personal calendar and one work calendar. So try it out to eliminate scheduling mayhem and take control of your schedule.

Discussion (0)