Apple Mac, Google, How To

An Easier Way to View All Your Google Calendars on Your iPhone

So Google now provides a tool to allow you to pick the calendars that sync to your iPhone.  It is:

Once you’ve added your main Exchange gmail account, use this link to pick which calendars sync.  I just saw this link today via and have not yet tried it, but it looks a lot easier than my previous post.

Apple Mac, Google, How To

Alarm/Reminder Quirks with iCal and Google Calendars

Journey to iCal Land

iCal iconI’m a big fan of Google Calendar and the flexibility it provides.  In particular, I like the ease in which I can create new calendars for each of my family members to help us to track our appointments.  As mentioned in a previous post, I like to be able to view my personal calendars in conjunction with my professional work calendar, but keep them separate.  When I existed in the Windows OS world I would use a purchased add-on by CompanionLink that allowed me to sync all my myriad of shared Google calendars as items on my Outlook in different categories.  Once I transitioned to a Mac I was elated to learn how easy it was to add my primary and shared Google calendars to iCal via simply adding my Google account.  Equally giddiness-inducing was that when moving to Snow Leopard I could also interface to my work’s Exchange server in both Mail and iCal.


However, I learned a hard lesson after not receiving an alarm reminder on my iPhone for one of my synced Google Calendars for which I knew I had set to remind me.  it seems that there is a quirk when using iCal to view your Google calendars that you need to remember to avoid when setting alarms.

Why!? Tell Me, Why!

It seems that, if you want to set an alarm (to fire-off an alert on your iPhone and make a reminder noise) you have to set the calendar event alarm to only “Message.”  If you set it to “Message with Sound” it won’t add a reminder to the even that is created on the iPhone.  Now, it’s possible this has since been fixed, but I have since changed my preferences in iCal to not set a default alarm, and thus I’ve gotten into the habit of manually setting a “Message” reminder.

It’s not ideal, but it works.

Note, in this scenario the iPhone is pulling down the Google calendar events from the cloud.

Apple Mac, Google, How To

Adding Google Calendars Other Than Your Main One to an iPhone

Calendars Schmalenders

For those living in internet time, and wanting to get to the payoff, skip to the “Convoluted” section below for the how-to.

The scheduling of my life is managed almost entirely by Google Calendars.  It is a huge plus in terms of keeping tabs on my personal schedule, my wife’s personal schedule, and the schedule of our children.  It took awhile to convince my wife that it would make our lives easier, but a few years back I was able to move her away from a paper calendar as her primary calendar and now totally away from any paper calendar once I bought her an iPhone.

Both my wife and I have Google/Gmail accounts and my wife has created separate calendars for my children which she shares with me.  I’ve created a few extra calendars including one to keep as a reminder of all the anniversaries and birthdays of friends.  So, the “secondary” Google calendars are vital information.  While Google calendars is very sharing-friendly by allowing the use of the CalDAV protocol for syncing to any shared calendar, other calendar software is not so friendly.  In particular, Outlook.  As it is not in their financial interest to provide syncing to any other calendar system other than Exchange servers, they provide no help.  Several free tools now exist as add-ons to Exchange, but all cost extra.

Before moving almost exclusively to doing both my personal and work related computing on a Mac, in when using Outlook as my main mail client in Windows I began using a tool from CompanionLink called “CompanionLink Google Sync” (or something like that.) It has morphed a bit since then and many other tools have come about to make synching multiple calendars to multiple Outlook categories possible.  I used these tools in conjunction with an older Palm Treo to handle calendar syncing quite well.

iCal on the Mac syncs quite effortlessly to Google Calendars and requires only adding your main Google account to pull in all shared calendars (viewable under “Delegation” in the “Accounts” tab in iCal’s preferences.)  Unfortunately, the iPhone does not integrate nearly as easily to Google Calendars as does an Android phone (not unsurprising.)


My work, like most modern offices, uses Microsoft Exchange as it’s main mail and calendar service.  In managing my daily schedule, I prefer to keep personal data personal, and professional data professional.  Therefore, mixing/synching my work schedule information into my personal Google calendars is not ideal.  As my work calendar information may have confidential client information within it, it would be inappropriate for me to sync that information to my personal Google calendar.

My desired setup on my phone was to do something similar that iCal was affording me on my Mac:  the ability to add multiple separate accounts for my work Exchange calendar, and my Google personal calendars.  All of them would be synchronized “to the cloud” and never require me to sync my phone via the USB cable to my computer (at least for calendar, mail, and contacts.)


While the iPhone allows the syncing of your main Google Calendar, mail account, and contacts via (oddly enough) Google’s-provided Microsoft Exchange interface, this interface does not sync any other shared calendars.  Plenty of excellent tutorials exist for setting up your main Google account to the iPhone. However, setting up those secondary shared calendars is unfortunately a bit of an email cut-and-paste acrobatic feet.  Here’s how to do it so you can view them and even add and remove events:

On the PC/Mac

  • Go ahead and setup your main Gmail account per Google’s instructions.
  • Go your a computer where you can access your Google Calendars via the web.  Navigate to your Google Calendars.
  • In a second tab open Gmail (or use whatever mail client floats your boat.)  Create a new draft email.  We’ll be cutting and pasting addresses into this email to send to your iPhone.
  • In Google Calendars (in the top-right corner as of last time I checked) choose Settings->Calendar Settings


  • In Calendar Settings choose “Calendars”
  • Click on the name of the shared calendar you wish to add to your iPhone
  • At the bottom of the information of the calendar you will see a section for the “Calendar Address”.  Select and copy the calendar ID:

  • Now, in the email you have crafted stick the calendar ID into the format shown below[Put calendar ID here]/user

So, for example, if I were to put a made up example it might be:
  • Now repeat this process for all of the calendars you want to connect with your iPhone (I told you it was convoluted!)
  • Send this email to an email account that you read on your iPhone

On the iPhone (or iPad for that matter)

  • Open the email and copy the first listed address of the calendar.
  • Open the iPhone settings and open the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” setting.
  • Choose “Add Account”
  • Choose “Other”
  • Choose “Add CalDAV Account”
    • In Server enter:
    • In User Name enter your gmail address
    • In Password enter your gmail address password
    • In Description, name it the friendly name you’ll need to remember what it is
    • Tap “Next”
  • Once the calendar is added it will take you back to the list of calendars on the iPhone.
    • Choose the new calendar you added
    • Choose “Advanced Settings”
    • Under Account URL, paste the address you just copied (first deleting the previous text that was there)
    • Rinse and repeat for each calendar
  • That’s it!

It is a very convoluted process, but thankfully you only have to do it one time.  Once I completed this action for each of my shared calendars I have been able to enjoy adding, changing, and deleting events (from the one’s on which I have permission to do so.)

There is supposedly a simpler method that I did not try listed here:

However, I do not know if it “scrunches” all the calendars into one causing you to lose the distinct categories.  I’d be curious if someone has tried it and knows from experience.