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Syncing your Google and Outlook calendars

Google Calendar Sync, a free utility from the search giant, makes it easy to keep your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook calendar on the same page. There are a few caveats, though.

Last January, a Worker's Edge post described how to swap data between your Google Calendar and the calendar in Outlook 2003 or 2007, using the import/export functions of each product.

A few months later, Google released a free program that not only moves data between the two calendar apps, but it also syncs the calendar entries automatically at the interval of your choice.

Google Calendar Sync is so fast and simple to use that my calendars were synced before I knew it. When you install the program, you're asked where you want to place the utility's shortcuts; by default, they'll be added to your Start menu and desktop.

Google Calendar Sync installer shortcut options
Uncheck the installer's shortcut options to prevent a new icon to be added to your Start menu or desktop. Google

When the installation completes, the program's main window opens, prompting you to add your Google ID and password, and to select either two-way syncs, syncs from Google Calendar to Outlook, or syncs from Outlook to Google Calendar. You can also reset the frequency of updates; the default is every two hours.

Google Calendar Sync settings
Decide whether you want two-way calendar syncs, or one-way transfers between Google Calendar and Outllook. Google

If Outlook's not open on your machine, you'll be prompted to enter your Outlook username and password. Then the data in each calendar will be added to the other (if you selected the two-way option). When I installed the Google sync utility, I was surprised how quickly the dozens of entries in my Google Calendar were added to Outlook.

I didn't I notice any missing or garbled entries. In fact, the similarity of the two calendars' appearance was a little spooky: I thought for a second that Google had taken possession of my copy of Office. (I probably jumped the gun on that thought by a couple of years.)

Google offers some caveats about using its Calendar Sync program. For example, you need to uninstall any third-party calendar-syncing applications on your PC beforehand. If you've been using another method, you must choose which of the two calendars you want to use as your primary one and clear the entries from the other. Finally, you have to perform a one-way sync from the primary to the secondary before you can schedule automated syncs.

Another limitation of the utility is that only your pop-up event reminders will transfer from Google Calendar to your Outlook calendar because Outlook doesn't support e-mail and SMS alerts. If you encounter problems using Google Calendar Sync, check the information on Google's troubleshooting page for the program.

After seeing what Google can do to enhance Office applications, I'm thinking that a Windows-killing desktop operating system from the company isn't such a bad idea.