How to sync Outlook calendars: the truth about synchronization between different calendars

July 3rd, 2024

Some time ago, I was really pissed off. If you've read me before, you already know that I work for a number of different companies and that I obviously have several calendars to manage.

So I wanted to synchronize several Outlook calendars together. When I asked Chat GPT 4 if this was possible, this is what it told me:

Is it possible to synchronize mutiple Outlook Calendars Together

"Yes, it is possible to combine multiple Outlook calendars together." Is he serious? 🤨 Are we agreed that this isn't what synchronization is all about? I'll write a specific article later to understand everything about synchronization.

But my priority today is to explain what I've come to understand about synchronization between different Outlook calendars. Spoiler alert: Outlook doesn't offer this feature. Nor does Google Calendar, for that matter. So I'm going to share my solution with you.

Why do I need to synchronize my different Outlook calendars?

I need it to simplify my life, both in terms of time management and collaboration with my customers.

Simplify my time management

It's amazing how the wrong tools can hinder my ability to work. Here are some of the problems I've encountered:

  • Wasting time: I waste a lot of time opening each calendar one after the other. This exasperates me and makes me less efficient. What's more, I also waste time looking for ineffective solutions, watching Outlook configuration tutorials or reading Microsoft support information.

  • The impossibility of synchronizing an Outlook calendar with a Google calendar : no, I don't choose my clients "calendars"! I work with Outlook, but many customers prefer to use Google Calendar. They're not going to create a new calendar for me, are they?

Simplify collaboration with my customers and colleagues

Scheduling every appointment and event manually is not only time-consuming, it's also error-prone. The risk of duplicates and overlapping events is constant. Believe me, it's happened to me: there's nothing like it to undermine your credibility in the eyes of your colleagues! If I can't manage my own schedule, how do you expect them to trust me with the rest?

I'll stop bitching. Before explaining my solution, let's review the various possibilities offered by Outlook, which Chat GPT mistakenly considers to be cross-platform synchronization.

Outlook's limitations

Here's what Outlook really does. Not to be in bad faith, there are possibilities. It's not what I need, but it's there.

Calendar overlay

Calendar overlay is a purely visual feature: it offers a combined view but does not synchronize calendars with each other. Each calendar remains distinct, and changes in one calendar are not automatically reflected in the others.

One view, multiple calendars: events from each calendar appear one on top of the other, with different colors for each calendar, helping you to see where events overlap.

The handling differs according to your version of Outlook, and is explained on the Microsoft support page View multiple calendars at the same time in Outlook.

Outlook Overlay

Creating a calendar group

Similar to the previous function, but with a difference. Creating a calendar group does not visually merge calendars in the same way as overlaying. Instead, this feature opens multiple calendars that are displayed side by side (or in separate tabs, depending on your display configuration). Each calendar remains in its own section of the screen, allowing you to compare calendars without visually blending them.

Overlay is most useful for assessing overall availability and potential conflicts between events in different calendars, while group viewing is useful for maintaining clear separation, viewing calendars in parallel and facilitating the management of multiple calendars that don't involve direct comparison of overlapping events.

In both cases, these are simple viewing options that don't interest me: I need to reflect an event on all my calendars.

Share calendar

You can share your calendar with other Outlook users. By adjusting permissions, you can control who can view or modify the calendar. Elena has detailed this in a comprehensive article on understanding Outlook.

For example, it's useful for me as CEO, because my assistant can see when I'm free and schedule appointments.

The problem is that for a customer to make an appointment with me directly, I'd have to grant them a very high level of permission, that of modifying my calendar, and I don't like that idea.

Importing and exporting calendars

To synchronize events from one calendar to another, you can use the import and export functions. Export the original calendar in .ics format, then import it into the target calendar.

The problem is that you can only view this calendar, not edit it directly in Outlook. It's like taking a photo.

Hopefully, I heard that SyncthemCalendars is cooking something...


Choose to sync Outlook Calendars from two differents accounts

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience.
To consent for cookies to be used, click accept.