7 iPhone calendar tips everyone should know

The stock Calendar app on your iPhone is sneaky-good.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read
Matt Elliott/CNET

When setting up your iPhone , there are a number of settings to change and tweak right away, but one that often goes  overlooked is the stock iOS Calendar app. It's simple but deceptively powerful if you set it up right. Who knows -- with a few minutes of work upfront, the Calendar app might crack your top ten list of favorite iPhone features. Here are seven tips to get the most out of the iOS Calendar app.

Family calendar

My life has been greatly aided and streamlined ever since my wife and I started using a shared family calendar. If you use Family Sharing to share app purchases among other items, then you should know that a family calendar has been created for you. You just may have overlooked it. To create an event that will appear not only on your calendar but also on those of the rest of your iPhone-toting family members, scroll down under the start and end times and you'll see a line for Calendar. The default is likely Home, which isn't shared. Tap Calendar and then you can choose to schedule your event on your Family calendar.

Choose default calendar

If you operate as your family's primary scheduler, then it might be helpful to change the default calendar from Home to Family. To do so, go to Settings > Calendar, tap Default Calendar and then select Family.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Stay alerted

Your calendar can keep you from missing an event or forgetting a birthday by alerting you to such things. Go to Settings > Calendar, tap Default Alert Times and choose to be alerted for Birthdays, Events and All-Day Events.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Holidays and birthdays -- yay or nay?

The calendar app pulls in holidays and birthdays, which can be helpful for planning your week, but I find including birthdays to be overkill (that's what Facebook is for). You can remove birthdays or holidays or both from your calendar by opening the Calendar app, tapping Calendars at the bottom, scrolling down to the Other section at the bottom, and unchecking Holidays or Birthdays.

Subscribe and save (your sanity)

I subscribed to my son's Little League calendar, which put every game and practice that the coach adds to the league website right on my calendar. And if a practice or game gets rescheduled, then my calendar gets updated without me needing to do anything. I was able to subscribe by going to the team's calendar on the league site, clicking a Calendar Feed button, and then choosing iCal. You can also subscribe to a calendar manually on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Accounts & Passwords > Add Account > Other > Add Subscribed Calendar and enter the calendar's web address.

Rotate for week view

My go-to view is the month view but with the list underneath that shows me the events I have scheduled for today (or any day I highlight in the calendar). I like seeing each day's events at a glance better than having to tap to see each day's schedule of events. Either way, the Calendar app is good at showing you the month or the day. What about if you want to take a look at your week coming up? Well, there's a secret week view. Just rotate your iPhone into landscape mode. Boom! Landscape-mode week view!

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Easy drag-and-drop rescheduling

For events that you created (as opposed to subscribed events), there's an easier way to reschedule them than opening the event, tapping Edit and then using the dials to change the date or start and end times. From the day view or the week view, tap and hold on an event until its shading turns darker. Once it's darker, you can drag it and drop it on its new day and time. You can also drag the just top or bottom of the time block to change just the start or end time.