The 6 best tips and tricks to manage your Outlook Calendar on any device

Dave Johnson
·10 min read
business professionals working together at desktop laptop in office
Your Outlook Calendar can be customized in many ways to suit your professional and personal needs. Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images
  • You can use these tips and tricks to get the most out of your Outlook Calendar on a variety of devices.

  • The Outlook Calendar can be accessed in a desktop app, on the web, or in a mobile app, though only the Outlook desktop app includes all of the service's features.

  • You can create a free account to use the Outlook Calendar on the web, but a subscription to Microsoft 365 gives you the most features.

  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Microsoft has offered a full-featured calendar as a part of its Microsoft 365 suite of productivity apps for decades. But rather than being a stand-alone program like other apps, Office's calendar is so well integrated with the Outlook email app that they are literally the same program; the only way to see your digital calendar is via Outlook.

There are a lot of lesser-known features hidden in the app, and unless you're already an Outlook power user, you'll find that there are a lot of ways to get more out of your Outlook Calendar.

How to get an Outlook Calendar with or without Microsoft 365

Microsoft's digital calendar is only available as a part of Outlook. You can get Outlook three ways: with a Microsoft 365 subscription on desktop, for free on the web, or as a mobile app for iPhone and Android.

The most full-featured version of the calendar is on the desktop with a Microsoft 365 subscription, such as Microsoft 365 Family ($100 per year) or Microsoft 365 Personal ($70 per year). In addition to giving you access to the full suite of Office apps, these subscriptions also include OneDrive storage.

Without a subscription, you can still access the Outlook Calendar on the web or via the mobile app, though with fewer features and capabilities.

Where to find your Outlook Calendar

  • If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you can download and install Outlook from the Office website.

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Outlook is home to your digital calendar on the desktop. Dave Johnson/Insider
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You can use the Outlook calendar on the web for free even if you don't have a Microsoft 365 subscription. Dave Johnson/Insider
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Outlook Calendar is also available for your phone or tablet. Dave Johnson/Insider

Outlook Calendar tips and tricks

There are countless ways to personalize your Outlook Calendar to get the most out of the program. Here are some of the most useful tips and tricks.

Create new personal calendars

If you don't want business and personal activities to co-mingle in your Outlook Calendar, you can create any number of separate calendars to keep them apart. For example, you could add a personal calendar or separate calendars for specific hobbies or projects.

You can display your calendars side-by-side, or all mixed together with each color-coded for clarity (see the next section for details on that).

To create a personal calendar on the Outlook desktop app:

  1. Make sure you're on the "Home" tab and then click "Add Calendar" in the ribbon. In the drop-down menu, choose "Create New Blank Calendar."

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    You can add any number of independent calendars to keep your meetings and activities separated. Dave Johnson/Insider
  2. In the "Create New Folder" dialog box, give your calendar a name and then click "OK."

  3. You should see the calendar appear in the "My Calendars" section on the left side of the Outlook window.

While you can't make personal calendars in the mobile app, you can do it in Outlook on the web. Just click "Add Calendar" in the pane on the left side of the Outlook calendar webpage (it's above the list of calendars) and click "Create blank calendar." Then name it and click "Save."

View calendars side-by-side or blended

Once you add more than one calendar to Outlook, you can choose how you want to see them: one at a time, side-by-side, or blended so that they overlay in the same calendar space.

In the pane on the left of the calendar, in the "My Calendars" section, you can display as many (or as few) calendars as you like at one time - just check the boxes next to the calendars you want to see.

By default, these calendars appear side-by-side. If you prefer, right-click a calendar and choose "Overlay." The calendar should now appear blended with the default calendar. You'll be able to distinguish them because each calendar remains color-coded. To undo an overlay, just right-click the calendar entry and choose "Overlay" a second time.

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You can overlay calendars or keep them separate so they display side-by-side. Dave Johnson/Insider

Share your calendar with others

You can share your calendar with other people and specify how much permission you want to give them. Your shared calendar might only reveal when you're busy, show all meeting details, or even give other people the ability to edit your calendar.

  1. In the Outlook calendar desktop app, make sure you're on the ribbon's "Home" tab and then click "Share Calendar" in the ribbon.

  2. In the drop-down, choose the calendar you want to share.

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    Use the "Share Calendar" button to let someone else see your schedule. Dave Johnson/Insider
  3. In the "Calendar Properties" dialog box, click "Add" and then find the contacts you want to share your calendar with.

  4. Based on the individual's credentials, Outlook will let you choose from various permissions. Choose the one you want to share, such as "Can view when I'm busy" (which doesn't reveal the meeting details), "Can view all details," or "Can edit."

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    Be sure to choose the permission level you want to allow. Dave Johnson/Insider
  5. Click "OK" to send the calendar sharing invitation.

You can also share your calendar if you're using Outlook on the web. The steps are very similar - start by clicking "Share" at the top-right of the webpage and then enter the email address of the person you want to share with. In the drop-down menu, choose what permission level you want to grant and then click "Share."

To share your calendar in the Outlook mobile app, go to the calendar menu and tap the gear icon. Tap "Add people" to select who to share with, edit their permissions, then hit the checkmark.

Customize your calendar

There is a huge array of ways to customize and personalize your calendar. You can specify which days of the week are considered work days, what hours start and end the work day (to make it easier to schedule events), the default length of meetings and appointments, the default calendar color, and much more. All these options are easy to access and change to suit your needs.

To find the calendar settings in the Outlook desktop app:

  1. Click "File" and then, in the menu that appears on the left, choose "Options."

  2. In the "Outlook Options" dialog, click "Calendar" in the navigation pane on the left.

  3. After making your changes, click "OK."

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There are a lot of options to explore in the "Outlook Options" dialog box. Dave Johnson/Insider

You can also adjust calendar options on the web, though your options are less extensive:

  1. On the Outlook webpage, click the gear-shaped "Settings" icon at the top-right of the page.

  2. In the pane that opens, click "View all Outlook settings" at the bottom of the page.

  3. On the left side of the page, click "Calendar" to see all your options.

If you're using the mobile app, here's how to find your options:

  1. Tap your account icon at the top-left of the screen.

  2. In the fly-out menu, tap the gear-shaped "Settings" icon at the bottom of the screen.

  3. Scroll down to the "Calendar" section where you should see a list of settings to choose from.

Sync your Google Calendar with Outlook

When you subscribe to your Google Calendar in Outlook, it's a two-way connection - anything you change in Google updates in Outlook, and vice-versa. Note that when you "subscribe" to your Google Calendar, both calendars stay up-to-date, but when you "import" your Google Calendar to Outlook, it's a static, one-time import that does not update as changes are made.

To subscribe to Google Calendar in the Outlook desktop app:

  1. Open your Google Calendar webpage.

  2. In the pane on the left, click the three dots to the right of your calendar. In the drop-down, choose "Settings and sharing."

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    The three-dot menu to the right of the calendar reveals the "Settings and sharing" option. Dave Johnson/Insider
  3. Scroll down to the "Integrate calendar" section and find "Secret address in iCal format."

  4. On the right side of this entry, click the "Copy" icon and then click "OK" in the pop-up.

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    Copy the address of your Google calendar so you can enter it into Outlook. Dave Johnson/Insider
  5. Go to your Outlook Calendar on the desktop app, and click "Add Calendar" from the ribbon's "Home" tab. In the drop-down, choose "From Internet."

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    You'll paste the link to your Google calendar here. Dave Johnson/Insider
  6. Paste the link you got from Google into the field and click "OK."

  7. In the "Subscription Options" dialog box, name your calendar and then click "OK."

You can also do this in Outlook for the web. In the pane on the left, click "Add calendar" and then choose "Subscribe from the web." Paste the URL and name the calendar to complete the process.

Add your iOS calendar to Outlook

When you add your iPhone or iPad calendar to Outlook, it's only a one-way connection, unlike when you sync Google Calendar to Outlook. Any changes you make on your phone or tablet are reflected in Outlook, but not the other way around. If that works for you, here's what do to:

  1. Open your iCloud Calendar webpage.

  2. In the pane on the left, click the "broadcast" icon to the right of your calendar.

  3. In the "Calendar Sharing" pop-up, click the checkbox next to "Public Calendar" and then click "Copy Link" under the URL that appears below the checkbox. Click "OK" to close the pop-up.

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    Copy the public calendar link from your Apple calendar. Dave Johnson/Insider
  4. Go to your Outlook Calendar on the desktop app, and click "Add Calendar" from the ribbon's "Home" tab. In the drop-down, choose "From Internet."

  5. Paste the link you got from Google into the field and click "OK."

  6. Confirm you want to subscribe to updates to your iOS calendar by clicking "Yes."

You can also do this in Outlook for the web. In the pane on the left, click "Add calendar" and then choose "Subscribe from the web." Paste the URL and name the calendar to complete the process.

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